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

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.


Thanks for your reply. We live in different worlds. In my world this change will have little to no impact at the large majority of events. Your right, it could impact pros signing up because others are not signing up in their division, but in my area, minimal impact.

I have a question regarding 807; Completing the hole. This could just be a case of me not understanding it fully, since English is not my native tounge.

A. A target is a device whose purpose is to clearly determine completion of a hole. A basket target is designed to catch discs and generally consists of a tray, chains, and a chain support mounted on a pole. An object target generally has a marked target area. B. In order to complete a hole with a basket target, the thrower must release the disc and it must enter the target above the top of the tray and below the bottom of the chain support, and come to rest supported by the target. C. In order to complete a hole with an object target, the thrower must release the disc and it must strike the marked target area of the object.

Section B: yes, the disc must enter correctly. But how about this? A disc that just touches chains (or a spit out or a splash out), hits the ground, stands up and rolls to be standing, supported by the pole? That disc has entered correctly and has now come to rest supported by the target? Or in the case when the target has a moveable foot, as in many cases on temp layouts? A chain out on such a target is not unlikely to come to rest in contact (supported by) the foot (target).

Would someone please clarify this?

Submitted by akane on

I saw this too, Martin. I believe the interpretation necessary to clear this up comes in the definition of the target.

“A basket target is designed to catch discs and generally consists of a tray, chains, and a chain support mounted on a pole.”

It’s really subtle, but the way the sentence reads the target is the tray, chains, and a chain support. That target is mounted on a pole. This would mean the pole is not part of the target.

Submitted by Greatzky on

I would agree with that assessment and I honestly don't think this part of the rule book needed to be changed. the way it was written and applied in the 2013 revisions was, IMO, written way better than this.

Submitted by cdamon on

The reasoning behind the change is that it removes the ambiguity from a few scenarios that are unclear under the current rule, with its language about the "inner cylinder" of the tray. Is a disc spanning the nubs supported by the inner cylinder? What if it's tilted toward the bottom of the tray? Under the 2018 rule, it's clearly good.

Submitted by cdamon on

This will be clarified in a QA. The pole is part of the target. The disc must be supported solely by the target, which is not the case for a disc on the ground leaning against the pole. The base of a temporary target is not considered part of the target.

Submitted by calebmoser on

The following section is very confusing, and I'm fairly certain it is not a finished sentence:
If a perpendicular lie as described above is not available, a lie designated
by a marker disc placed on the playing surface at the point that is nearest to
where the disc was last in-bounds, and that is up to one meter away from any
out-of-bounds area.

Submitted by calebmoser on

First, according to this definition, if a thin strip of "fairway" that you are meant to throw over the top of is less than 2 meters across and this scenario comes into effect, would you not be allowed to place your lie all the way up the fairway at the point in which the fairway gets wider than 2 meters?
Second, does this rule only apply to discs that have gone OB? It seems the same issue that you're trying to prevent could occur with a disc that does not go OB.

This is just one of those reasons that the PDGA needs to STOP WRITING THIS CRAP THEMSELVES AND HIRE A TECHNICAL WRITER. You can't use terms like "Fairway" in this manner without first defining the meaning of the word. You also can't just create some distance or length standard without having similar standards defining how a course must be constructed such that the standards being created "fit" into some form of structure. Two meters may as well be "Two Parsects" for all they relate to.

The PDGA Rules can never be taken seriously until the PDGA decides to take them seriously enough to write them well... which will never include 6 disc golfers, a round table, and a case of Heineken.

Submitted by calebmoser on

"fairway" and "Two meters" were my writing. Fairway was in quotes because I'm not sure it would actually be considered a fairway if it was that thin of a strip of playable area. Two meters was in reference to "up to one meter away from all out of bounds". If a playable strip has OB on both sides of it, but is less than 2 meters across and this rule comes into effect, you could potentially move your disc hundreds of feet up the playable strip until it became 2 meters wide thus having a spot to place your marker that is at least 1 meter from any out of bounds line.

I'm good with that, and can 'recant' my statement about the word 'fairway' - but still, the rules inherently create more questions that they clear up, and this is because the PDGA isn't willing to deal with the writing of the rules in a professional manner. It still is a bunch of disc golfers "trying to figure out how to word things. The rules are inherently inconsistent and made more so by changes that attempt to make them more consistent.

The most glaring and obvious example of this is when they talk about Mandos and OB. Both are defined when the disc comes to rest, but they are granted precedence by "which one happened first"... which, by definition, is something that happens simultaneously "when the disc comes to rest". There is nothing wrong with throwing over an OB area, and throwing over an OB area is not the same as "being OB", in fact, it's part of the design of many, many great holes. For that matter, a disc never ever passes the wrong side of a mando while it is "at rest".

A technical writer would catch this stuff. Well defined rules are absolutely critical to fair competition. "Re-defined rules" are the opposite of that.

Submitted by calebmoser on

I have thought about the issues with the old rules a lot and long ago thought up how this scenario or loophole might be created if they tried to fix the issue. Sure enough, the way it is worded, my imaginary loophole might become a reality if it is not rewritten.

Submitted by ERicJ on

If your sub 2-meter strip of "fairway" is 300' long between tee and target, and you cross out OB 140' from the tee, then the "nearest point to where the disc was last in-bounds" would be backwards towards the tee. However, if you cross out further than 150' from the tee the "nearest point..." would appear to be forward towards the target.

Tangentially related: have you ever seen a course/hole with a sub 2-meter wide fairway that was several hundred feet long?

In fact, I can think of several places, even locally, where you throw over a strip that is less than 2 meters wide and return back to inbounds areas... i.e. teepad, ground... water... ground... etc.

Submitted by calebmoser on

The issue only exists if a lie is not available though, which I believe would only occur in a corner of OB where when put the marker anywhere on the 1 meter line, you would not be able to place your foot in bounds behind the disc.

Submitted by akane on

I don't see the problem here. The lie does not have to be one meter away. It's UP TO one meter, so in your two meter strip example, there would be plenty of space for a lie regardless of if you were marking for a disc that went OB or if the disc is in bounds. To me, this caveat is added to help in situations where there maybe small strips of in bounds playing surface where a player would not be able to take a legal stance.

@53Clubs, the rule didn't use the word "fairway", Caleb did. In fact, the word fairway only appears once in the book and is in the question part of the Q&A. The context of those questions is from a player's perspective and try to represent what players may ask and how they may ask it.

Submitted by calebmoser on

Now that I think about it, the item does not really need to be a complete sentence as it is a description of an area and an item in a list. Still, the loophole exists. The only scenario I can think of where this comes into effect is when a disc goes out of bounds at the corner of two OB lines on a strip of playable area that is less than 2 meters wide. It's a longshot that this would ever be the case on a course, but if it did, the loophole still exists. If they wanted to stick to the same phrasing and content as the previous rule, but eliminate this loophole, I would propose it be written as follows:
“If a perpendicular lie as described above is not available, a lie designated by a marker disc placed on the playing surface at any point up to one meter from the point where the disc was last in-bounds.”
This gives the player the option to move it towards the basket up to 1 meter, but he will need that one meter to be able to stand behind his marker anyways as there will be out-of-bounds area directly behind him. If the basket is in the direction of that second out of bounds line, this special scenario will not take place anyways since his lie will be behind the marker. Even if the scenario did still occur due to the OB lines being at a smaller than 90 degree angle from one another, he would not be able to push his marker any closer to the basket with my proposed change to the wording regardless.

Submitted by ERicJ on

The goal of the RC was "to guarantee a stance that's not even partially in an OB area, so we allow the player to find the nearest available lie one meter from any OB." If you restrict it to one meter from where the disc was last in-bounds you're not guaranteeing a reasonable lie. If you've already taken a penalty stroke for OB, it sucks to get effectively double penalized with a horrible lie on your next shot.

Submitted by calebmoser on

That was the intent, yes, but by strictly forcing the lie to be "the nearest available lie", you are potentially giving them an extremely bad lie anyways as there is no option in it. If you can't get a reasonable lie within 1 meter of where it went out of bounds, then the hole should have a designated drop box or have it's OB line moved. And while the intent was good, there is still an issue of someone being able to move the marker far up field if the strip of playing surface is less than 2 meters across. Or far worse, the marker may need to be moved much further away from the basket if that is the nearest lie within these rules. The issue needs to be addressed regardless of the intent. Would you like me to draw the scenarios on a map and send them to you to review?

Submitted by cdamon on

The goal of this minor addition is to make sure that a player always has the ability to take a stance that is in-bounds. It is rare but possible to have a corner of OB that affords less than a meter in which to take a stance. That's what this rule is intended to address.

It is difficult to imagine a hole that is used in tournament play that results in a bizarre outcome based on this new rule. It is very rare for the initial situation to occur, where there is no in-bounds lie a meter from where the disc last crossed into OB. Picturing 6-inch wide strips of fairway snaking 300 feet up to the hole is entertaining for the purposes of argument, but it's not useful in a practical way.

On a separate note, there will be a new QA to clarify what is meant by "first" when multiple violations occur on a single throw (for example, missed mando and OB). There's a link to the 2018 revision at the beginning of this article. The second QA, QA-APP-2, addresses this question.

Submitted by calebmoser on

It's not a 6 inch wide strip. It's a 2 meter wide strip. It does not need to be 300 feet long to give a player an advantage. It only has to be possibly 50 feet long. I sent pictures detailing the whole layout to one of your colleagues. This actual scenario almost takes place on a course that I know of. It is a course on a golf course that has a cart path parallel to a fence. You throw from the path and right of the path is OB and left of the fence is OB. 200 feet up the fairway it opens into an island of trees with the basket in the middle. If a player took a backhand left-hand hyzer line over the fence, there disc would go over the very corner of the thin fairway. If there disc never came back across the fence, that corner would be their last point of being in bounds. With this caveat to the rule, they would move their disc 200 feet up the fairway and only be 25 feet from the hole with no trees in their way. Anyone with a backhand right-hand hyzer line that did not go OB would likely be stuck on the outside of the trees from the basket for an upshot and a 3 for the hole while the person who went OB would have a very easy putt for 3 as well.
As for "clarifying" this with a QA section, the QA section is for actual clarification. It is not to explain the spirit of the rules which should then be followed over the letter of the rules.

Submitted by cdamon on

The new rule applies to situations where there is less than one meter of in-bounds space available at the point the disc last went OB. For the player to be able to relocate to the nearest spot where one meter of space is available, the fairway would need to be less than one meter wide. For the player to relocate 200 feet up the fairway, the fairway would need to be less than a meter wide for 200-300 feet. That's hard to picture. If the hole does indeed have, say, a very long two-foot wide strip of fairway surrounded by OB, it may need to redesigned given this rule change. How does a player who throws under 200 feet play the hole? Do they have to aim for the base of the fence to hit that narrow strip of fairway? I've never heard of a hole like that before. Assuming I'm picturing it correctly, it sounds like a poorly designed hole.

Submitted by mrtho on

On the new rule where it says supported by the basket

The old rule says that if you throw a blind hole where nobody sees the disc go in then you find your disc in the basket it is assumed that it entered properly. What if on the new rule you throw a blind hole then find your disc resting on top of the cage, or find it dangling outside the basket supported by the "nubs"? In both cases I could argue that my disc must have hit the chains (entered properly) then bounced off and that it is supported by the basket. Do I get the benefit of the doubt that i entered the target properly? How can you say that these shots that are frequently posted to reddit with "does this count" that were not good before are NOT good now because they ARE supported by the "nubs"?

The new rule also still says that if you throw on a basket that has two rows of chains and you get the other fluke you see on reddit where your disk is dangling from the inner chain support, then it obviously entered the target properly and came to rest inside of the target area, but it will still be counted as a miss because the inner chain support is NOT considered part of the target.

In my opinion the new rule makes the rule more vague.

Submitted by cdamon on

The new rule makes it unnecessary to determine which part of the target is supporting the disc, making the rule easier to apply. There's no need to decide if an S-hook or the inner chain support is part of the officially defined "chains". They are obviously part of the target.

In the case of a blind hole, it is up to the group to determine what most likely happened. To summarize: in the tray is good; wedgie is almost certainly no good; on the tray (eg spanning nubs) is good since it entered the target area correctly; same for one dangling on outside of tray - it would have been almost impossible for it to get there without having entered the target correctly.

I'm not sure where the idea comes from that shots that used to be good that are supported by the nubs are no longer good. Those are more likely to be good with the new rule, since it has no constraints on which part of the target is supporting the disc. With the current rule, it's limited to the inner cylinder of the tray (which can be hard to determine precisely), the chains, and the pole.

Submitted by mrtho on

So the rules are now "as long as ANY part of the disc properly enters the target area and the disc is supported by the target then it is good"? I'm just trying to clarify because this is the only way that one hanging by the "nubs" on the outside of the basket could be counted as good.

If this is the case then a disc that is dangling on the outer chain hanger would also be good, as long as some part of the disc hit the chains themselves, because the part of the disc that hit the chains "entered the target correctly" or else it couldnt have hit the chains.and the outer chain hanger is still part of the target.

Again I'm just asking because I want to be clear on the rules.

BTW I never said one that counted before doesnt count now. I was confused because it seems that the new rule counts the chain hangers as part of the basket. In the old rule the example of the disc hanging by the inner chain hanger would not have counted but it does now.

Submitted by cdamon on

You're correct that a disc that is hanging from the chain support (upper nubs) now counts as good, because the way we are defining the target area is as a cylinder going from the top of the tray to the bottom of the chain support, and the disc has broken that cylindrical plane. That's an undesired consequence of the simplified rule, but I think it's exceedingly rare.

Hazard area: When a hazard area borders an OB area and the disc goes from the hazard area in the OB area, where do you position the lie?

1 - From where it left the inbounds area and went into the hazard area.
2 - From where if left the hazard area and went into the OB area

Submitted by cdamon on

You can take a stance in a Hazard, so it's treated the same as in-bounds with regard to the nearby OB area. You would take your stance in the Hazard (option 2).

Submitted by ljordan on

Question regarding relief, lie, & stance.
803.02 states:
If a large solid obstacle prevents the player from taking a legal stance behind the marker disc, or from marking a disc above or below the playing surface, the player may mark a new lie immediately behind that obstacle on the line of play.

The term "large solid object" is vague, and open for interpretation issues leading to disagreement if you are using a obstacle relief (no stroke penalty) or optional relief (+1 stroke).

How does 803.01 come into play here? Can I push dense follage or branches out of my way to see my line of play?

A 50 yr old oak is large and solid, but how about a dense 10 foot high grouping of brush or saplings, such that you cannot place your marker on the ground or take a legal stance because your foot is unable to reach the playing surface? How does a large thicket of thorny blackberry bushes fit into this definition? Should a player have to choose between loss of competitive play or physical injury?

Say a disc is inbounds, but came to rest 1m off the ground in the center of a large hedge shrub. You can just reach the disc to retrieve it, but no way of placing a marker disc below or taking a stance, as there is no 20cm x 30cm area of open surface above or below. Its a large object, but is that considered solid? I know some guy is gonna say its not... I dont want to have flow of play always effected as the group decides if this bush or that thicket is a solid object or not.

Seems like a huge lack of definition here...

Should I be granted at least a 20cm x 30cm of open playing surface under the disc to place my lie and thus be able to achieve a legal stance?

Y'all opened a can with the change of the definition of lie from a line (no surface area) to a 600cm2 area.

Obstacles are by far the most common issue here in the northwest, just trying to figure out how to deal with potential tournament disagreements in an objective and repeatable manor.

I will really appreciate the clarifications...

Submitted by cdamon on

The intent of 803.02.B is to handle situations where it is physically impossible to mark a disc or take a stance. That is why it uses the word "prevents" and not "makes it difficult".

You are not allowed to push foliage out of your line of play. Relief rules only apply to the lie and the area on the ground behind it.

A bush is not a solid object. If it is physically possible to mark your lie and take a stance, that is what you are required to do. If that is difficult or possibly painful (due to thorns etc), you can choose to take optional relief at the cost of a penalty throw. So yes, a player whose disc is in the middle of a blackberry bush must choose between playing the disc as it lies (and potentially getting some scratches, depending on their clothing), and moving their lie back at the cost of a throw.

Whether a dense hedge is a solid enough object to make marking or taking a stance physically impossible is a group decision. It's hard to imagine that happening often enough to affect the flow of play.

You are not guaranteed the entirety of the lie, just the ability to take a stance. A legal stance means having a supporting point (usually a foot) in contact with the lie. The new lie area makes it more likely that you can do that without having to move behind the obstacle.

Submitted by coryfle03 on

In a PDGA sanctioned tournament, are the course rules expected to be written down?

In the players meetings they explained all the OB, island play etc and as a Deaf player I rarely catch any the rules and tend to read the hole by hole. However, some of the sanctioned tournament don't come with one and taking an OB on a island play you didn't know about is hard to swallow.

My question, are all sanctioned tournaments required to have a written course rules for players? If not, how players like me avoid these hiccups?

No, there is no such requirement.

I certainly don't mean to be insensitive, as I do understand your conundrum - and I also recognize that there is an almost shockingly large and vibrant deaf DG community, but to a degree, some of these lesser understood difficulties fall back to you, the player who is more likely to understand the potential difficulty.

As a TD, I know that I would, if I realized it to be a potential issue, create a written form of the player meeting ahead of time. It's honestly just not something I would normally thing about. This said, if you reached out to me as a player, with a little lead time before an event, I would absolutely do this for you - and it could potentially become just a greater benefit to the entire event and for everybody involved.

These types of things are usually provided at larger (B/A-Tier, NT) events, but rarely at a C-Tier level event... but again, if I knew there was even a single player in the event for whom there would be difficulty without it, I absolutely would create it and I am confident that most of the 'quality TD's' I know would as well.

In any case, I would definitely reach out to the TD before the event and let him/her know of your situation so he could create a solution ahead of time - because once you are at the event, if it doen't exist, there's little he/she can do.

For the record Cory, now that you have brought up this potential difficulty, I will be far more likely to be sure the player meeting information is provided in written form as well. So,... thank you.

Submitted by coryfle03 on

Thanks for your response. Agree, the tier A & B tournaments do provide the rules and I do see some highlight the score card stating which hole is what.

As for C tier, I will be more aware and ask the TD in future tournaments. I try to avoid being a pest sometime and assume I catch everything, but learned today that I can't assume in these tier C tournaments.

Again thanks for your time to answer my question.

Best - Cory


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