Rules School - Mandatory Update - 804.02


The mandatory rule not only has a new rule number for 2013, but it's also had some changes. This is an updated 2013 version of the original Rules School story on Mandatories. First, a refresher on why or how mandos can be used in course designs. Some feel mandatories are a design crutch and should never be used. When a course designer has full control to develop a layout and unlimited budget, mandatories can usually be avoided. But how often do designers have that luxury? In some cases, mandatories were never part of the original course design. However, storm damage or structural changes in the park require hole designs or locations to change where a mando or two might be appropriate.

A mandatory directs throws along a more restrictive route for players to make legal throws on the hole without penalty. The primary reasons a designer should consider using a mando are: (1) routing considerations, (2) adding challenge and (3) reducing possible interference with other players, pedestrians, vehicles, sensitive foliage or property boundaries.

However, using a mando to reduce safety concerns is a tricky proposition. For example, if a potential hole design would have a playground off to the left about 150 feet from the tee on a mostly open fairway, that's not going to be safe regardless whether a mandatory tree directs throws to the right. Players are just not that good and bad throws will end up in the playground even if the throw is penalized.

A better example of using a mandatory to improve safety is when a tree is marked as mando to prevent players from throwing out over a lightly used park road. You don't really want players on the park road. But it's not a severe safety problem if the occasional bad throw lands in the road and gets penalized for missing the mando. Using mandos to add challenge can be appropriate but they should be used sparingly and only on properties where there are few trees, water or other hazards to provide challenge. Mandatories to direct routing can be the most desirable. These mandos are typically embedded in the woods or way off to the side to prevent players from taking crazy routes that might interfere with other holes or leave the property.

swedish mando
Mando in the 2010 Scandinavian Open (photo courtesy of Tony Söderström)

For example, maybe the hole is designed as a wooded dogleg that bends to the right. But what if a player pitches backwards and to the right off the tee about 60 feet and it opens up a throw over the car-filled parking lot that could reach the pin through an opening in the woods? Here's a case where a simple mando off to the right of the tee, where it can't be missed if players follow the intended fairway, prevents players from trying this "unauthorized" and inappropriate route.

804.02 Mandatories

  1. A mandatory restricts the path the disc may take to the target. A disc must pass to the correct side of the mandatory before the hole is completed. A disc has passed the mandatory once it establishes a position beyond the mandatory line.

    This is a significant change for 2013 where a disc must land past the 'made' side of the mando to officially complete the mando. In the previous rules version, the disc merely had to pass the 'made' side of the mando during its flight and the mando was completed even if the disc subsequently bounced off a tree back across the line.

    1. The mandatory line is the line marked by the director or course designer to indicate when a disc has passed or missed the mandatory.

      First, an arrow of some sort should be on the mando object pointing the direction the disc must pass around the 'made' side. Then, ideally there's a physical line marked on the ground on both sides of the mando. But sometimes a simple arrow painted on the ground pointing the direction from the mando object or flags indicating the lines away from the mando object in both 'made' and 'missed' directions are used.

    2. If no line has been marked, the mandatory line is defined as a straight line through the mandatory, perpendicular to the line connecting the mandatory to the previous mandatory, or if there is no previous mandatory, the tee.

      Note that even though the default line on both sides of the mando is perpendicular to the line from the tee (or previous mandatory), it does not have to be marked that way if there’s a reason to angle lines another way. But it’s usually a good practice to mark the line perpendicular since it’s what players have come to expect.

      mando line

    3. In the case of a double mandatory when no line is marked, the mandatory line is the straight line connecting the two mandatories, and extends beyond them in both directions.

      The default 'made' line is the connection between the mando objects. the 'missed' side lines on either mando typically follow that same line but can be angled more forward or backward if desired as long as the lines are well marked.

  2. A throw has missed the mandatory if it passes the incorrect side of the mandatory from the direction of the tee, and establishes a position completely beyond the mandatory line.

    In the case of a disc crossing the 'missed' side, the mando has not been missed unless the disc ends up at rest across the 'missed' side. if it first crosses the 'missed' side but then bounces or rolls back to the tee side of the line before it stops, the mando has not been missed but it also has not been 'made' yet.

    Consider the case where no mando lines have been marked and a player's disc lands very close to a point where the group needs to judge whether it missed the mando or not. may as well give the choice to the player (benefit of the doubt). it's probably a toss up whether the player would benefit more with no penalty, faced with a tough angled throw to make it around the good side of the mando on the next throw versus just taking the 'missed mando' penalty and play from the drop zone.

    Some players mistakenly think they have missed the mando on their tee shot if they don’t cross the good side of the line on that throw. as long as their throw hasn’t ended up across the 'missed' side of the mando line, the player is safe. the player then just tries to throw across the 'made' side on their next throw. there are even tricky mandos where laying up short of it on the tee shot then trying to throw across it on the second throw might be a good strategy.

    Note to TDs & Course Designers: Please mark your mando objects well! Indicate clearly what path a disc must take past the vertical mando object to either pass or miss it. Bushy or short trees, and especially trees with major trunk branches, can be poor choices as mandos. In the diagram below, the most conservative approach would be to require players to throw completely to the right of the tree to successfully pass the mando. However, some may feel it’s okay to define making the mando if the disc passes just the left trunk on the right. That’s usually not a good choice.

    mando line

  3. A throw that has missed the mandatory results in a one-throw penalty. The next throw shall be made from the drop zone, as designated for that mandatory.

  4. If no drop zone has been designated, the player shall play from the previous lie.

    These two rule sections were combined in the previous rule version. The key change is that the default drop zone - if one has not been marked - is to return to the player's previous lie for the next throw.

    Note to TDs: Since Missed Mando, OB, Lost and Above 2m all have the same 1-throw penalty, the group has to watch and determine which rule was violated first. In the case where there's a missed mando line that passes through OB, whichever line the disc crosses first is the penalty to apply. The following diagram shows some examples.

    mando lineFor Throw A, the disc crossed the OB line first and the lie is marked at the last point inbounds by the lower red dot or the player may retee. For Throw C, the disc missed the mando first and the player would go to the Drop Zone. For Throw B, if the group decides the disc went OB first, the player either gets the lie by the upper red dot where the mando line enters OB or they can retee. If the group can't decide because it was too close to tell, the player gets to choose. In this example, the player would likely choose to go to the Drop Zone.

    In the case where the disc ends up above 2m past the missed mando line, the player goes to the Drop Zone for missing the mando. If a disc is lost that likely missed the mando on the same throw, the player must follow the lost disc penalty even if the group clearly saw the disc cross the missed mando line before being lost. Although this goes against the “which penalty happened first” part of the rule, the lost disc penalty takes precedence when the disc is not found because there's no certainty it actually crossed the missed mando line.

    Note to TDs: We recommend that when you have hole designs with mandos where other penalties could also apply, as with this example, specify that players go to the Drop Zone regardless whether they Missed the Mando, went OB, Lost their disc or any combination of penalties. This will make it much easier for players to make these tricky calls and determine where to play their next throw regardless what penalty applies.

  5. If, after a mandatory has been passed, a subsequent throw crosses the mandatory line on the correct side but in the reverse direction, the mandatory has no longer been passed. The player must still pass the mandatory on the correct side. A line connecting the lies for the hole must pass to the correct sides of all mandatories for the hole.

    This rule change for 2013 tries to prevent players from crossing the 'missed' mando line even after they have successfully crossed the 'made' mando line. In the diagram below on Throw 1, the player successfully crossed the 'made' mando line. However, on Throw 2 their disc hit the tree and bounced back across the 'made' mando line. For Throw 3, they could make a direct throw at the target but it would cross over the 'missed' mando line (see dashed line with ‘X’). Under the old rules, that throw could be made. Under 2013 rules, the player must make the curving throw back over the 'made' mando line again (labeled Throw 3) to successfully complete the mando. 

    Mando bounceback

    Note that if Throw 2 hit that same tree but the disc curled around the other side of the mando, crossing the “missed mando line” and ended up near the red X, the player could directly throw at the basket because their Throw 2 did not cross back over the correct 'Made' side of the mando line. When a mando is located relatively near the target players will need to watch potentially errant throws until all players have holed out.

  6. The nearest mandatory which has not yet been passed is considered to be the target for all rules related to marking the lie, stance, obstacles, and relief, if the line of play does not pass to the correct side of that mandatory.

    The “mando line of play” (MLOP) takes precedence over the actual line of play (LOP) to the basket when marking your lie. Check out the following hole diagram. The mini is placed as if the mando ahead were the hole instead of in the direction of the target on this dogleg hole.

mando lop