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2018 Official Rules of Disc Golf & Competition Manual for Disc Golf Events Released

2018 Official Rules of Disc Golf & Competition Manual for Disc Golf Events Released

New revisions go into effect on January 1st 2018

Monday, October 23, 2017 - 14:37

After years of research, debate, and sometimes heated discussions, a new revision of the PDGA Offical Rules of Disc Golf and the PDGA Competition Manual for Disc Golf Events has been finalized, printed, and published. The new version represents many changes, some big and some small, but we believe that all of them were necessary. 

The text below is taken from pages 36 and 37 of the new PDGA Official Rules of Disc Golf. Links to the current and new revisions are available at the bottom of this article. 

Summary of Changes

In the opinion of the PDGA Rules Committee, the 2018 revision represents a large step forward. Far more effort has gone into it than into other revisions. There is a significant amount of change, which is summarized below. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write to the Rules Committee using the contact form on the PDGA website.


The rules have been restructured to more closely follow the order of events during the play of a hole. That makes it much easier to find the right rule, and it keeps related rules together. Rules that cover infrequent scenarios (such as misplay) are toward the end.

There is no longer a separate section for definitions. Terms are defined where they first appear. That way, there is no need to flip back and forth between the definitions and the rules. Each defined term is listed in an index in the back, along with the rule where it is defined.

The text of the rules has been rewritten into a less formal and more conversational style. For example, the word “shall” no longer appears.

New sections have been added to gather together similar rules: Regulated Routes, Regulated Positions, and Regulated Areas.

Rules for Match Play and Doubles have been added.

The Q&A’s have been rewritten, reorganized, and greatly expanded.

New Stuff

Relief Area: A Relief Area is essentially a penalty-free OB area. A TD can use a Relief Area to keep players out of certain areas of the course, for example, an area around a yellowjacket nest, an area under construction, or an area with protected plants.

Hazard: A Hazard is an area where you get a penalty but do not relocate the lie.

There’s a new OB option, available at the discretion of the TD: you play from the closest in-bounds point (similar to a lateral hazard in golf).

Major Rule Changes

The lie is now an area. It’s a rectangle 20cm wide and 30cm deep centered behind the marker. 




Click to view full-size image.

Minor Rule Changes

  • If a throw does not change a player’s lie (for example, missing the island on an island hole), they throw again instead of waiting for others to throw.
  • There is no longer a re-throw after a stance violation. The throw counts.
  • There is no longer a warning for the first stance violation.
  • The five-meter limit on casual relief has been removed. You may go back along the line of play to the first available lie, however far that is.
  • A player may take free optional relief (back along the line of play) when placing the lie after taking a penalty for OB or above two meters.
  • A player may abandon a throw at the cost of one penalty throw (other penalties are not counted). Abandoned Throw replaces Optional Re-throw.
  • The mandatory rules have been clarified by limiting them to penalizing throws that pass the wrong side of the mandatory. The most important part is that the only line that matters is the one that extends to the incorrect side of the mandatory (two lines to the outside for a double mandatory).
  • A target for a hole other than the one being played is subject to the two-meter rule.
  • If an OB area has a drop zone, the TD may allow you to go directly there at the cost of two penalty throws (rather than trying to throw over an OB lake, for example).
  • You are guaranteed a lie up to one meter from all OB (handles OB lines that create a corner).
  • The rule for completing the hole has been simplified. Your disc must enter the target correctly and then be supported by the target.
  • Practice throw has been redefined.
  • A throw that travels less than 5 meters in the air to return a disc to a player or your bag is not a practice throw.
  • The consensual interference rule (formerly 804.03.G) has been removed.
  • Accidentally interfering with your own throw (for example, if your putt rolls back and hits you or your bag) incurs a one-throw penalty. As before, intentional interference with your own (or anyone else’s) throw incurs a two-throw penalty.
  • You can move a disc that has landed on or behind your lie.
  • A player who is not present to play a hole gets par plus four.
  • A player who starts on the wrong hole and/or in the wrong group receives a two-throw penalty.


Click to view full-size image.


Click to view full-size image.

A new set of rules inevitably means we will need a new PDGA Certified Rules Official Exam. If you are currently a PDGA Certified Rules Official, your status will continue and will remain until its current expiration date. At this point, we are not requiring anyone that already certified to re-take the exam, nor is the new exam something that is available to the public as of yet. 

Please keep in mind that the current revision of the PDGA Official Rules of Disc Golf and the PDGA Competition Manual for Disc Golf Events will remain in effect through the end of 2017. 

The 2018 revision of the PDGA Official Rules of Disc Golf and PDGA Competition Manual for Disc Golf Events is available for purchase now at the PDGA Store. All new PDGA members and members renewing their membership for 2018 will receive a hard copy of these new revisions in their 2018 membership package so join now or renew your membership today.

PDGA Official Rules of Disc Golf 

PDGA Competition Manual for Disc Golf Events

Update to provide context for the 2018 Official Rules of Disc Golf  - Section 803.02 (October 20th, 2017) 

Three new diagrams have been added to the article based on feedback we’ve seen and heard from PDGA members and nonmembers alike. The first diagram helps explain what is considered a legal stance in the new lie area behind a marker disc (802.05). The second and third diagrams help demonstrate different situations that pertain to the Relief from Obstacles section (803.02). 

Update to provide context for the 2018 Competition Manual for Disc Golf - Section 1.10 (October 19th, 2017)

The changes in this section came about for various reasons after many, many PDGA Competition Committee discussions that included other PDGA BOD and Staff members alike. Some of the most notable talking points that helped push these changes were as follows: 

  • Amateur player complaints (and a BOD request) concerning a player winning an Amateur Worlds title despite previously accepting cash in a Professional division, in a PDGA-sanctioned event, prior to becoming a PDGA member.
  • Amateur player and Tournament Director complaints about non-members jumping back and forth and "poaching" both cash in Professional divisions and merchandise in Amateur divisions.
  • Professional player complaints about non-members and Amateur members taking winnings out of the Pro divisions purses.
  • Tournament Director complaints about having to come up with large quantities of merchandise to payout Amateurs in Pro divisions.

The PDGA Competition Committee will be releasing another article next week that explains the reasoning behind many of the most significant changes in both the PDGA Competition Manual for Disc Golf Events. We will continue to add what we see as some of the most vital feedback directly to this article as we work toward the release of the full article next week.


A throw that travels less than 5 meters in the air to return a disc to a player or your bag is not a practice throw. That is awesomesauce. Now I can pitch my disc to my caddy without someone getting all butthurt now. =)

Submitted by jonasgr on

...and can you keep pitching the disc of your caddy throws it back to you? A lot of players would benefit from practicing 5 meter putts during a round.

Submitted by jonasgr on

Not a good answer. A good rules does not introduce grey areas but your answer does. One throw to the caddy on hole 2 and one on hole 17 also are “throwS” but these won’t be punished. How about 4 throws spread out during a round? 8? Where do we draw the line? The line will be subjective which is a BAD thing.

How about the disc golfer that aims to throw a 4 meter throw to his caddy, but the caddy trips and fails to catch the disc which flies 11 m before it lands? Or the fellow competitor that “fails” to grab the disc so it flies much further?

Adding rules like this is imo a waste of space: every single rule and sentence in a rule book should be as precise and compact as possible, and a disc golfer who walks a couple of miles in one round will not die from fatigue by walking two more steps and handing the disc instead of throwing it.

The rule adds nothing positive to the game but adds confusion.

Submitted by Mytun80 on

No I beg to differ. It's no longer a practice throw. So it should count as a throw and changed the lie. So instead of teeing off from the teepad wouldn't you be teeing off from your bag?

Submitted by keylime on

Question: Do the new regulations permit or bar clubs from provided early registration to their members, regardless of PDGA status, versus non-club members that are PDGA members? I see no language in either the current, or the 2018 rules, that state explicitly whether this is permitted.

It is included in all 2018 membership packages. Only 2017 items have shipped so far; we've been waiting on the new rulebook revision.

Only 2017 items have shipped so far. If the membership card that you received is green and white - it is not the 2018 membership card. Therefore 2018 items will be in the mail soon. 

Submitted by Frzb Lloyd on

Practice throw has been redefined.
A throw that travels less than 5 meters in the air to return a disc to a player or your bag is not a practice throw.

So you are just going to let people practice putt to their bag with no penalty? Please said this isn't so

Submitted by tedbigham on

I think the key word here is "return". Removing a disc from your bag, with no intention of actually using it in play, only to practice throwing it, would likely still fall under "practice throw" or even "cheating".

Submitted by tedbigham on

Not really. The main practice throw rule still applies:

801.06 Practice Throws

A practice throw made during the round shall result in one penalty throw being added to the thrower's score.

Submitted by Frzb Lloyd on

A. A practice throw is any throw that is not made as a competitive attempt to
change the lie, except for a throw that is made either to set aside an unused
disc or to return a disc to a player and that travels less than five meters in the air.
A drop is not a practice throw. Practice throws are disregarded.

Im good, if they act like they are practice putting, i'm calling them out on this. it is a nonchalant toss back to their bag or ground their okay

Submitted by Moosedr00l on

"You can move a disc that has landed on or behind your lie."
any example or elaboration on this?

810.H Interference explains it. I can see the potential for argument from a player whose disc was moved about accurate placement after the throw.

Submitted by mjames on

Typo/formatting, the following sentence is broken into two list items:

"* The rule for completing the hole has been simplified. Your disc must
* enter the target correctly and then be supported by the target."

Submitted by nealpdga on

I'm not seeing this formatting issue on the native file or the PDF. Please clarify so I can fix. Thank you. - Neal

Submitted by Greatzky on

I think you are confusing two things. You are confusing the current rule on casual relief (which allowed you to go back to the nearest available lie, but only up to 5m) and the new rule for allowing a free optional relief for placing your lie after going OB or 2m.

Under the new rule if you choose to take the free optional relief after going OB you would be able to go back, on the line of play as far back as you want forever.

Also under the new rule you can take casual relief from an obstacle to the nearest available lie except now you can go further back then 5m if needed. Remember with casual relief you must take the nearest lie that is available. it doesn't mean you can just go back until you are satisfied like you can now do with the free optional relief OB rule.

Submitted by cdamon on

After an OB or two-meter penalty, you can place your lie as far back along the line of play as you want. Not to be confused with the change to the casual relief rule (eg a puddle), which removes the 5m limit and allows you to go back to the first available lie behind the obstacle (not as far back as you want).

Got it: 803.02: E. No penalty throw is added if optional relief is being taken following a penalty
taken for a disc out-of-bounds or above two meters

Shouldn't this be added as an option in 806.02 D?

Submitted by Greatzky on

yes it should, but it's technically not an option until you have chosen one of the listed options first. the options available after an OB shot have to do with establishing your position first. to take the free optional relief is only done after your have chosen where you plan to establish your lie.
It should be mentioned as something you can do though instead of it only being in 803.02E
I am hoping when we get closer to the start of 2018 they will release a statement explaining why the changes were made and how to handle them. I do feel this one isn't precise enough.

Submitted by cdamon on

We're planning on doing exactly that. I've written up a longer description of the changes which goes into more detail about the thinking behind each change. The Rules Committee is reviewing that document and I should be able to send it to the Board soon for posting on the website.

Submitted by davidheath on

I still see no rules related to health time-outs. For instance, I recently played a course with a bunch of rabbit holes. No-one did, but I could easily see a sprained or twisted ankle occurring. We need some kind of expression of suitable medical time-out - much like they do in tennis. Similarly, I might be hit in the back of the head by a (very) wayward throw by a player on a different hole. In both cases the injury is probably fixable with a few minutes away from play. Of course we should make no allowance for any kind of pre-existing condition.

Submitted by Greatzky on

in tennis it is one side vs the other. you can't hold up anyone else by taking a medical time-out. In disc golf you have 72+ people on the course that need to play golf. a medical time-out would slow down all holes behind you and could cause a huge problem with finishing events in a timely manner depending on the amount of time needed and the amount of people who need medical time-outs. I don't see it being feasible to allow any extra time for anything, but I am willing to be it is something that the RC has talked about before.

Submitted by davidheath on

from a flow-of-play perspective I agree entirely, but from the perspective of the injured player, I'm not so sure... neither do I have a good solution... about all I can think of is that the entire playing group stands to one side and permits following groups to pass through until the injured player is good to play (or some suitable time-out occurs - perhaps 15 mins).

Of course the only 2 existing rules that might apply are the 30 seconds throw limit and the par-plus-4 for missing a hole. Suggesting that the player might have to move with the playing group and not throw until they're sufficiently recovered, taking a 4-shot penalty on each missed hole.

Still thinking about the best option here!

Submitted by jonasgr on

Without checking the new rules, the 30 seconds start when a player arrive at his lie and the player have "reasonable time " to get there.

A player who gets hit in the head by a Lizotte driver will either DNF, die, or he can absolutely add a minute or two to his “reasonable time” buffer.

Shit happens, and this include disc golf competitions. I played in USDGC some years ago and had to wait a couple of HOURS before teeing off on hole 5 since a car was towed up from the lake but this does not mean that I want this occurrence regulated in the rules. Common sense will handle almost everything and if it doesn’t, the TD will judge, and if he doesn’t, PDGA will.

Submitted by adamsm on

Stance---so the new rules say there is 4 inches side to side behind your marker.

Does this distance include your entire foot or would just the side of your shoe need to touch?

Submitted by ERicJ on

Four inches from the *center* of the marker.
The Stance rule says "Have at least one supporting point that is in contact with the lie", thus you only need to be touching some part of the rectangular lie area.

Submitted by steelniel on

Thanks to everyone at the PDGA who has worked so hard on this for years. We appreciate you trying to improve the game we love and for taking disc golf to the next level. A new rulebook was needed and im sure we will all learn to adjust to it over time.

Submitted by Fallerii on

The new rules define a height-restricted double mando. I understand this to be the same thing as a gate. What if the thrown disc passes the vertical bar or "height restriction" from the incorrect side, bounces from something and returns crossing either of the mandatory lines? If I'm reading the rules correctly, this would be judged as missed mando since it passed the height line on the incorrect side and did not return the same way back.

Vis-à-vis a situation where the throw misses the gate from either of the sides (or crosses either of the actual mandatory lines) and bounces back crossing that same line again, the result is different because it's not a miss.

Regarding mandatory gates, in many occasions it is virtually impossible to say if the throw passed the height-restriction (bar) first instead of either of the mandos (poles). To me, the spirit of the rules would suggest that the two situations are identical but the written rules disagree?

Submitted by cdamon on

The Rules Committee is discussing that exact scenario. It gets complicated because the third mando (the bar that restricts height) does not have a line associated with it. One possible way to look at it is as a plane with a hole in it, where the hole is the gate that you're supposed to throw through. A disc that breaks that plane without coming back through that plane has missed the mando. Conversely, a disc that breaks that plane anywhere (for example, over the bar) and then comes back through the plane anywhere (for example, to one side of the gate) has not missed the mando. I'm not sure if that's the interpretation we'll settle on (and whether there is sufficient support for it in the rules as written), but I like its consistency and I think it captures what should happen. Either way, we will likely add an online Q&A to address it.

Submitted by SeanMcDonn on

It seems like "lie" violations will be much more difficult to notice now, curious what brought about this change.

If you can elect to use either a mini marker OR the position of the thrown disc to mark the front edge of the "lie" zone... doesn't that mean the back edge of the "lie" will vary depending on how which way you choose to 'mark' the lie? It almost seems like you should always be required to mark the lie with a mini marker.

Submitted by Greatzky on

regardless of how you choose to mark your lie you get the same exact size box to play inside. this rule didn't change for 2018 and has already been this way. the only thing that changed is the definition of "lie" to be a box instead of just a line.
You are correct that if you choose to mark with a mini your lie is now closer to the basket than if you used the disc to mark your lie. that's an option that has always been available.

There is also a reason that a disc on the playing surface is considered marked without needing to use a mini. It was used to erase a loophole regarding shot time violations.

Submitted by cdamon on

There are actually two different things in play here. Using the disc on the ground as a marker (the "thrown disc lie") was added primarily for efficiency. Older players especially did not like having to bend down an extra time for every throw, especially for fairway lies where gaining a free eight inches toward the target really doesn't matter. Which brings me to the next point. The main reason that 20cm was chosen as the width is that it's very close to the diameter of a typical golf disc. In line with that, the Rules Committee was hoping to de-emphasize the use of minis by having the mini placed even with the back of the thrown disc, so that the lie is the same regardless of how it is marked (which makes sense for a host of other reasons as well). That change was narrowly rejected by the Board.

Submitted by ERicJ on

Tail marking FTW. Or better yet: remove minis altogether from the rules. Why should players have to carry mini marking discs when they already have plenty of other full sized discs that could serve as perfectly acceptable markers for OB, above/below the surface, relief, etc.?

Submitted by cdamon on

Right there with you. The Rules Committee has strongly recommended going to tail marking in the last two revisions (2013 and 2018), but the Board has rejected it each time. At least this year it was close. Beyond that, I think it's hard to make a convincing argument that minis are necessary.

Submitted by akane on

I have tried to, but can't understand their reasoning not to change to marking at the rear edge of a disc. Has there been feedback or reasoning provided for this change not to be made?

Submitted by cdamon on

One argument from the Board (other than "we've always done it this way") is that if you're in the woods and your disc is resting against the front of a tree, you won't be able to mark in front so that you can place your foot in front of the tree. Instead, you'll need to mark behind the tree. I consider that argument to be marginal at best. A summary of why I feel tail marking is a clear step forward is here:

That page includes the arguments against it that I have heard (along with rebuttals).

The "Update to provide context" misses the mark almost as badly as the terrible rule change itself.

The payout changes and elimination of AMs playing as Pros will effectively eliminate all sanctioned pro play below the A-Tier level. It will take away all of the payouts for Pros who win and will create absolute barriers to AMs moving up.

Along with eliminating the Pro divisions from sanctioned tournaments, it puts the TD in the position of being "the bad guy" to the player who just had the tournament of his life playing against better competition.

Taking the money out of Pro divisions in B and C-Tier events will cause me, and many other TDs to stop sanctioning any events where Pros are invited to play. It will cause Pros, even local pros to stop entering sanctioned events because 'being Pros' they do this for money and there's more to be made in a $5 round at the local course than there will be to win at a C-Tier event, and far less risk.

The cowardess of the PDGA to hide behind the VOLUNTEER TDs to do their dirty work is truly disgusting.

Les, aka 53Clubs, what exact wording are you referencing that makes you believe pros will stop playing events, and that there is any need to take money out of the pro divisions in B and C tiers? I dont see anything that implies that at all.

Nothing "requires" taking money out of MPO on the part of TD's. The money 'automatically' disappears from that division because fewer people sign up to play. The math is simple really, it could even be considered remedial... if 10 people sign up to play MPO at $60 each, there's $600 going in. If 4 people sign up, there's $240. When you eliminate the significant portion of the field, you eliminate the significant portion of the money. For a C-Tier event - which the PDGA defines as a "Local" event, there aren't enough Pro Open players to fill a card, let alone, an entire field such that there will be a purse large enough to attract even the most local of them.