• Introduction
  • The object of the game
  • The point system in disc golf
  • Teeing off
  • Gameplay
  • Putting
  • Tournament officials
  • Game time & intervals
  • The disc golf course
  • Rules and regulations of disc golf equipment
  • Discs
  • The basket
  • Other rules of disc golf
  • Sources


  • A full round consists of 18 holes.
  • Par: the average number of throws required to reach the basket. Ranges from 3 to 5.
  • Birdie: reaching the basket one throw under par.
  • Eagle: reaching the basket two throws under par.
  • Bogey: reaching the basket one throw over par.


  • Each hole begins with a tee throw. All succeeding throws must be thrown from where the disc lands (lie).
  • Players must have their foot planted behind the lie when releasing the disc.
  • Normal run-ups and follow-throughs are allowed unless the lie is under 10m of the target.
  • If the lie is under 10m from the target, both feet must be planted when throwing.
  • If the disc flies too close to another player, yell “fore”.


  • The player furthest to the hole throws.
  • The player with the least amount of throws in the previous hole tees off first.
  • The disc must come to rest in the basket/chains to finish a hole.
  • If the disc lands out of bounds, the player receives a +1 and must play the next disc 1m from there the disc went out.
  • If the disc is laying above the ground (unplayable lie), it must be thrown directly below where it lies.
  • Some holes have a line that must be crossed on the fairway. This is known as a mandatory, and it is indicated by arrows.

Game styles

  • Traditional/stroke play: each player counts their shots according to pars.
  • Matchplay: players count how many holes they win.


The history and rules of modern disc golf are hard to pinpoint, with several people creating similar rules around the same time. In 1959, Kevin Donnelly from Newport Beach, California, was playing ”street disc golf” and promoting it as a recreational sport. George Sappenfield, a Parks and Recreation supervisor from Thousand Oaks, California, became friends with Donnelly and together they created the first disc golf courses and tournaments.

At the same time, Jim Palmieri and his group of friends were already participating in regular disc golf tournaments in Rochester, New York. Interestingly, two colleges, the University of Michigan and Berkeley both created their first disc golf courses around the same time. 

The rapid growth of disc golf also caught the eye of ”Steady” Ed Headrick, a Wham-O executive, who was assessing the value this might have for their business. After becoming enamored by the sport, Headrick went on to develop the official rules of disc golf as well as invented and patented the disc golf chain-and-basket target. He even founded the Disc Golf Association (DGA) and the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) in 1976. ”Steady Ed” is widely considered the father of disc golf. 

Nowadays, disc golf is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, with over 70,000 registered players and even more recreational players from all over the globe. Its biggest events include the PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships and the Amateur Disc Golf World Championships.

The object of the game

The basic rules of disc golf are extremely simple. Your aim is to finish a full round of 18 holes with as few throws as possible. Naturally, your opponents have the same objective as they attempt to finish the course with fewer throws.

The point system in disc golf

A full round of disc golf consists of 18 holes. Each hole has a par ranging from 3 to 5, which indicates how many throws are ideally required to finish. The score of each hole is determined by how close to par the player is able to throw.

  • Eagle: -2p
  • Birdie: -1
  • Par: 0
  • Bogey: +1
  • Double bogey: +2 
  • Etc.

In traditional stroke play, each player attempts to finish the full course with the fewest amount of throws possible. Alternatively, players can also count how many holes they win and subtract the number of holes they have lost (match play). Other playstyles include Skins, Nassau, Validator, Bag raid, Worst shot, as well as various team games. 

Teeing off

Play begins with the player throwing from within the hole’s teeing area, also known as a tee. This area may be a specific tee pad or an area that extends three meters perpendicularly behind the tee line (the line at the front of the teeing area) or the line between the outside edges of two tee markers. 

When teeing, the player must have at least one supporting point (a part of the body in contact with the ground) within the teeing area at the time of release. A violation of this rule results in one penalty throw.

After the first hole, all subsequent tees are determined by the scores on the previous hole. Thus, the player with the lowest score will throw first, etc. Ties do not change the throwing order.


After teeing off, the player whose lie (the location where the disc has landed) is the farthest from the target throws next. If a player makes another throw from the same lie, such as a re-throw, they will remain the next player in the throwing order. However, the player who is not next may also throw with the consent of the player next in order. Throwing out of courtesy is considered a violation.

After the disc has landed, the player may place a mini-marker touching the front of the disc on the line of play. During their next turn, the player must have at least one supporting point in contact with the lie, while having no supporting points beyond the lie, or out-of-bounds. 

When a disc lands out-of-bounds, the player may throw the next disc from the previous lie or 1m perpendicular from the out-of-bounds line where the disc went out. If a disc is lost, the player has 3mins to find it, and all players of that group must search for the disc. In both of the aforementioned cases, the player receives one penalty throw. 


When players are within 10m from the hole, they must have full control of balance behind the marker while putting. This means that players may not lean or step forwards while they throw. Doing so will result in a warning while continuous offenses result in a +1 penalty.

A good rule of thumb is to have both your feet firmly planted as you make your final throws.

Tournament officials

The official rules of disc golf state that competitive tournaments must have a PDGA-Certified Tournament Director, or a Tournament Marshal, as tournament officials. The tournament officials’ rulings supersede the rulings of the playing group. However, players may also appeal to the appointed Chief Official of the tournament. 

If a tournament official also participates in the tournament, they are not allowed to oversee rulings regarding his own group.

Game time & intervals

On average, an 18 hole round of disc golf takes roughly two hours. Although there are no set rules for timekeeping in disc golf, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, players have 30 seconds to throw the disc after the previous player’s throw, and the lie has been determined. Excessive time first results in a warning, after which the player will receive one penalty throw. 

Another thing to consider is that if there is a faster group of players behind you, it is customary to let them pass at the next teeing position.

Lastly, the round can also be suspended due to bad weather, etc. In this case, players must stop the play and mark their lie before taking shelter. When the weather has cleared, players resume play in a normal fashion.  

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Remember to yell "fore!" if the disc flies too close to another player.

The disc golf course

Disc golf courses usually consist of 9 or 18 holes, although some courses may have 6, 12, 21, 24, or even 24 holes. According to PDGA, a course should have an average of 61-122m (200-400ft) per hole, with a minimum of 30m (100ft) distance per hole. The longer the distance from the tee to the hole – the higher the par (3-5).

Most courses are designed around natural obstacles such as water hazards, trees, elevation changes, and distance variations. These are often combined with man-made rules like mandatory flight paths and out-of-bounds-areas. Thus, players need a variety of different throws and skills to perform well in each course. 

Much like traditional golf, some disc golf courses also have multiple tee positions on each hole to cater to players of different skill levels.

Rules and regulations of disc golf equipment

Aside from an ideal location, disc golf only requires two pieces of equipment; your favorite discs and the basket. 


According to the official rules of disc golf, the discs must have a diameter of 21-30cm (8.3-11.8in) and a maximum weight of 200g (7.1oz). They are usually made from polypropylene plastic and come in various sizes, shapes, and purposes. These can be divided into three categories; drivers, mid-range discs, and putters.

  • Drivers: the fastest discs made for long-distance throws. They have sharper edges with most of their weight distributed on the outer rim for improved aerodynamics.
  • Mid-range discs: made for accurate and predictable medium-distance throws. They have a dull beveled edge and a moderate rim width. Great all-around discs especially for beginners.
  • Putters: slowest and most accurate discs made for controlled shots to the basket. 

The discs also have four numbers ranging from 1 to 15 representing the disc’s flight properties. 

  • 1st number: Speed
  • 2nd number: Glide
  • 3rd number: Turn
  • 4th number: Fade

The basket

The official rules of disc golf state that the basket must have a diameter of 54cm (21.3in) wide at the rim and 65cm (25.7in) at the lower basket. The basket also has 12 vertical chains that taper down from the main basket to the lower basket, helping discs to land after a successful throw. 

Lastly, the basket must be 1.3m (52in) above the ground with the height of the lower basket at 65cm (25.7in). In some tournament situations, the basket can also be raised up to 15cm (6in) according to the terrain. On average, a basket weighs around 8.2-11.3kg (18-25lbs). 

Other rules of disc golf

In addition to the rules of disc golf previously described here, the sport also follows a long list of guidelines regarding sportsmanlike conduct. For example, players should be quiet during other players’ turns, not litter or damage their surroundings, follow local rules, and refrain from aggressive behavior such as swearing. 

If groups want to listen to music, they should make sure it does not bother other groups. Players are also encouraged to return any lost discs they find from the course. 

These are just a few additional rules of disc golf that you may want to keep in mind as you start your next round. For a full list of rules, feel free to check out the official PDGA rulebook. 

Did you learn anything new about the rules of disc golf? Let us know in the comments.

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