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Disc Golf Rules School – Episode 8: Obstacles and Relief

In disc golf, we are always hoping for a lie that is clear, flat, and generally provides good footing for our next throw.

Unfortunately, we are sometimes left with lies that are less than optimal: on the side of a slippery muddy slope, in a ditch, under a rock, and so on.

In this episode, we’re going to look at ways that players can take relief from obstacles and other obstructed stances during their round according to the Official Rules of Disc Golf (ORDG) section 803.02.

Moving Casual Obstacles

The rules allow you to move casual obstacles that are on the playing surface where you can legally place a supporting point when taking your stance.


Casual obstacles are pieces of debris, like leaves, unattached sticks and branches, and rocks.  You can move these items even if they extend in part in front of your lie.


Casual Relief with No Penalty

There are certain situations where the position of the thrown disc means we get casual relief: there are obstacles on or behind the lie physically preventing you from taking a stance, or there are potentially harmful insects or animals like wasps or rattlesnakes, or anything else designated by the tournament director.

Where casual relief is available, you can mark a new lie back along the line of play no farther than the nearest point that provides relief.

For more information on the line of play, see Rules School Episode 2: Marking Your Lie.

Optional Relief with Penalty

If, on the other hand, the lie is, say, difficult but casual relief is not available, you may choose to take optional relief at any time, as far back from your lie as you care to go, on the line of play, by adding one penalty throw to your score on the hole.

Optional Relief with No Penalty

If you have received a penalty throw, either because you have landed Out-of-bounds, or because the two meter rule was in-effect (see ORDG section 805.02) and your disc landed more than two meters above the playing surface, you may take optional relief from your new lie without incurring an additional penalty.

To do this, mark your new lie from where the disc went out of bounds (up to a meter from the OB line, see Rules School Episode 6: Out-of-Bounds), or below your disc that is stuck above two meters, and then mark another new lie anywhere along the line of play as far back as you care to go.


Relief From Out-of-Bounds Lines

Players may also take relief if their disc lands within one-meter of an out-of-bounds line, in which case they mark a new lie anywhere along a one-meter line perpendicular to the OB line that passes through the thrown disc. Note that this means the player may actually move their lie closer to the OB line if they wish.

Class Dismissed!

If you are unsure whether or not casual relief or optional relief are available, consult with your group. If the group decision is not clear, or if you disagree with the group’s ruling, consider playing a provisional shot from both locations and asking a tournament official to make a ruling when it’s convenient to do so.

For more information visit the Official Rules of Disc Golf and be sure to check back each Thursday for a new installment of PDGA Rules School.

See you out on the course!