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PDGA Mid-Event Suspension & Cancellation Policy

PDGA Mid-Event Suspension & Cancellation Policy

Last updated: Thursday, October 12, 2023 - 13:32

Dangerous situations and/or extreme weather conditions can negatively impact a tournament or league. It is the responsibility of the Tournament Director (and Assistant Tournament Director) to know and follow these guidelines for the safety of their players, staff, and spectators.

The purpose of this document is to help TDs make good decisions concerning event suspensions and/or cancellations based on player safety, and on maintaining the integrity of the competition.

Pre-Planning for Delays or Cancellations

Prior planning is essential for a TD to quickly and confidently deal with event delays or cancellations. Prior to the start of the event, a TD should already have carefully considered their event’s format and formed multiple contingency plans to ensure that the integrity of the competition is maintained. Specifically, these plans should be designed to ensure a final result where all competitors within each division have played the same total layout. Events with larger field sizes and spectator galleries should consider using apps or tools that engage in proactive detection and provide early warning. TDs must prepare players with the protocol for leaving the course in the event that play must be suspended. There should be someone dedicated to monitoring weather conditions during events.

Possible Hazards -– Be Prepared

PDGA-sanctioned events generally continue during wet weather conditions.However, TDs need to be aware of potential conditions that could cause injury or death.

These dangerous conditions may include: 

  • Lightning - lightning can strike within 10 miles of a storm. Accordingly, TDs should observe a 15-mile safety radius around a tournament location during the event. Any lightning strike within 15 miles will suspend play. Play is to be suspended for 30 minutes after the last strike within 15 miles and can resume thereafter. This should be verified by a lightning reporting app/website. Any audible thunder indicates lightning is at least within a 10-mile radius, and this can be used as a rough measurement in the absence of cell/internet service. Downloadable lightning apps can be found on the App Store and Google Play
  • Tornadoes - signs of a tornado are listed as: 
    • Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base, 
    • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base (sometimes they have no funnel), 
    • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
    • Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder
    • Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado
    • Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is visually in ground contact or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
  • High winds - especially on wooded courses (danger of falling branches/trees). In the US, consult the National Weather Service to find out about high wind threats in your area. 
  • Downed power lines
  • Flooding - especially on courses with flash flood areas or creeks/streams that need to be traversed. Here are the US FEMA map service, the Canadian Flood Maps, and the European Commission’s flood maps for Europe and the world. 
  • Slippery Conditions - especially on those courses with inclines that need to be traversed
  • Extreme heat - the general rule of thumb for this warning is that “when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 105° or higher for at least 2 days and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75°; however, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas not used to extreme heat conditions” (from You can learn more about the Heat Index at the NWS website.
  • Extreme cold - if sudden onset of cold weather is expected, players may not be prepared with appropriate clothing.
  • Air quality hazards (typically from fires, but also may be found in highly populated areas). You can use a resource like for a guide to AQI levels and to stay informed about air quality in your area. 
    • If the air quality index indicates “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” to “Unhealthy” (orange and red), this should be communicated with all registered players, volunteers and staff by both email and webpage.
    • If the air quality index indicates “Very Unhealthy” to “Hazardous” (purple and maroon), play must be postponed or canceled. This must be communicated with all registered players, volunteers and staff by both email and webpage.
    • European AQI is available at
    • Asian AQI is available at
    • Worldwide AQI info is available at 
  • Other natural disasters not previously mentioned - hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides

Other issues may include: 

  • Unexpected course closures
  • Park/course double-booking 
  • Fallen trees
  • Damaged or unsafe bridges
  • Property owner dissent 
  • Slowness of play causing loss of daylight
  • Police activity
  • Political protests or rallies
  • Fires
  • Sinkholes
  • Dangerous wildlife: Territorial raccoons, weasels, snakes, skunks, alligators, crocodiles, dangerous birds, foxes, big cats, wolves, moose, bears, hippos, and coyotes protecting their domain 
  • Dangerous plants: Invasive wild parsnip, poison ivy, or poison oak
  • Dangerous insects: ground hornets, honey bees, fire ants, paper nest wasps.

Typically, most dangerous wildlife issues are contained to specific parts of the courses and course adjustments can usually be made.

  • Deletion of hole
  • Replacement of hole
  • Changing the hole to avert danger
  • Granting free relief from or using a drop zone to avoid a dangerous area

During-event examples: 

  • An approaching, fast-moving lightning storm may require that a TD suspend play before conditions at the course have exhibited significant signs of danger.  
  • 911 scanner apps that monitor police activity in a high-crime area may alert the TD to a dangerous individual or situations in the surrounding area.
  • Air quality devices that measure potential air quality hazards may indicate to the TD that the Air Quality Index is too high for safe play.
  • Someone certified may need to perform CPR if someone is unconscious and not breathing.
  • Someone certified may need to use an AED if someone is experiencing cardiac arrest.
  • Heat-Related Illnesses is a serious matter. This CDC chart shows recommendations on what to do! Please read this information prior to your event.

Examples of other useful precautions:

  • Scheduling a designated spotter to help with holes where there are safety concerns or speed of play issues (blind holes that have high probability for lost discs.
  • Know and have good relationships with the course neighbors.
  • Walk the course(s) regularly to identify areas of potential concern.
  • Re-check park availability prior to opening registration and a few weeks prior to the event.

Simple formats with players contained on a single course playing shotgun rounds can be relatively easy to recover from delays or cancellations, while complex formats with divisions that span multiple pools and/or tee times can be much harder to provide for recovery and will need more complex planning and execution. Items to consider when planning for event recovery:

  • Number of days of the event
  • Number of rounds and holes of the full event
  • Number of rounds and holes per day
  • Round format – shotgun, tee times, or both
  • Any pooling (course or divisional) and how that affects recovery

Take Action!

Once a dangerous situation is identified, TDs need to suspend play immediately while ensuring that ALL players, staff, and spectators are aware that play has been suspended so they can seek safety. 

TDs should use tools such as lightning detectors, online lightning maps, weather tracking apps, and 911 scanner apps to assess both the onset and passing of the hazardous conditions to judge and anticipate the speed and direction of the hazard. 

With each of these in mind, consider the various stages of the event and the impact a delay or cancellation would have and what would need to be done to recover. The results of the event must be based on a common set of completed round(s) to ensure that all members of each division have completed the same total layout.

Wherever possible, it is critical that a TD take the competitor’s hard work into account by trying to complete as much of the event as possible. TDs should always attempt to complete any partially completed round first, but may need to consider drastic measures to allow for a fairly-contested competition. 

Previous rounds take precedence

By regulation (Competition  Manual 1.07.F), completion of a previous round takes precedence over starting a new round, even if it becomes necessary to do so the next morning, prior to the start of any other round. This may require canceling a later round. 

However, if a round is cut short due to unforeseen circumstances, and if that course cannot be used the next day to finish the round due to different division(s) playing it or contractual obligations, then the shortened round can be dropped to the common holes, and that division(s) may move on to the next round, with approval from PDGA Director of Event Support.

Additionally, in the case of a larger event that has a division or divisions that are large enough to cover multiple pools, it may be necessary, as a last resort, to vacate different completed rounds from different pools to ensure all competitors within a division have completed the same total layout for final standings.

Exceptions will be granted only in extreme circumstances, on a case-by-case basis, and must be approved by the PDGA Director of Event Support. To request an exception during an event, email Event Support or call 762-253-2200.

Decision process for cancellations

Under no circumstances should players be expected, or asked, to return on a day following the last day of the regular scheduled rounds to finish the event. 

If a TD has to cancel during the final round, the round scores should be calculated by reducing to the common holes completed by all competitors per division (as long as at least 9 holes were completed)

Any throws and their associated penalties made on holes that have been dropped are disregarded (see 802.01.C). All marking, time,and courtesy warnings, as well as any penalties incurred for courtesy violations during play on holes that have been dropped still apply (see 812). Tournament warnings, player misconduct penalties, and disqualification determinations are not affected by dropping holes from the round. 

If a DNF occurs in a round that is truncated, it may depend on the specific situation (including what hole the DNF occurred on) as to whether the DNF would still apply or not. If the situation is not clear, the TD should reach out to Event Support for guidance.

It is a good practice to retain scorecards or export hole scores from Tournament Manager for record keeping before recording any edited round scores. 

A TD may be faced with a cancellation if there is no time left to safely complete the event. In these cases, it may be necessary to vacate a partially completed round and in the case of pooled events, possibly vacate previously completed rounds to ensure all competitors within a division have completed the same total layout. Use table 1 to determine your situation and process. Tables 2 and 3 are tools listed to give TD’s estimated times to complete tournament rounds. 

Table 1: Shotgun or Tee time Start
Round Option Holes completed Processes
Final  1st  Players completed fewer than 9 completed common holes  Finish round after delay
Final  2nd  Players completed fewer than 9 completed common holes  Cancel round
Final  1st Players completed 9 or more but fewer than 18 completed common holes Finish round after delay
Final  2nd  Players completed 9 or more but fewer than 18 completed common holes Cut back to # of common holes completed
Other  1st  Players completed more than 9 but fewer than 18 completed common holes Finish round after delay
Other  2nd  Players completed more than 9 but fewer than 18 completed common holes Finish round prior to start of next round
Other  3rd  Players completed more than 9 but fewer than 18 completed common holes Finish round instead of playing next round

If “Other rounds” become the “Final round” due to mid-event emergencies, then TD’s will use options for “Final Round”. Ratings will only be processed for rounds that contain a minimum of 13 holes. 

Table 2: Estimated time required to complete Tee time rounds for all competitors
Type # of holes # of competitors Estimated time in hours
Tee time 18 90+ 6.5 - 8.5
Tee time 18 72 6-7
Tee time 18 54 5-6
Tee time 13 90+ 5.5 - 6.5
Tee time 13 72 5-6
Tee time 13 54 4-5
Tee time 9 90+ 5-6
Tee time 9 72 4-5
Tee time 9 54 3.5 - 4.5
Tee time 9 36 3-4
Tee time 9 Top 4 competitors 1.5
    Breaking ties 0.5

(estimated values based off par 3 holes, courses with higher difficulty may extend estimated values)

Table 3: Estimated time required to complete Shotgun rounds for all competitors
Type # of holes # of competitors estimated time in hours
Shotgun 18 90 4.5 - 5.5
Shotgun 18 72 3.5 - 4.5
Shotgun 18 54 3-4
Shotgun 18 36 2-3
Shotgun 18 18 1.5 - 2.5
Shotgun 13 90 3.5 - 4.5
Shotgun 13 72 2.5 - 3.5
Shotgun 13 54 2-3
Shotgun 13 36 2-3
Shotgun 13 18 1.5 - 2.5
Shotgun 9 90 2.5 - 3.5
Shotgun 9 72 2-3
Shotgun 9 54 1.5 - 2.5
Shotgun 9 36 1.5 - 2.5
Shotgun 9 18 1-2
Shotgun 5 90 1.5 - 2.5
Shotgun 5 72 1-2
Shotgun 5 54 1 - 1.5
Shotgun 5 36 1 - 1.5
Shotgun 5 18 1

(estimated values based off par 3 holes, courses with higher difficulty may extend estimated values)

First-Place Ties

 A factor when vacating partial or previously completed rounds is that with the fewer rounds counting towards final scores, it is more likely to be left with first-place ties. 

PDGA regulations (Competition Manual 1.09) normally require that first place ties be broken by sudden-death playoff so a winner can be declared and the first-place prize awarded.  

Playoffs should only be held if the hazardous situation has cleared and there is time to complete the playoff during the final day of regular scheduled rounds for the competition. If the playoff cannot be held in safe conditions during the final day of regular scheduled rounds for the competition, it is PDGA policy that a first-place tie will stand with the players declared Co-Champions with prizes for the number of places split evenly between the players. 

Under no circumstances should any non-sudden-death playoff criteria such as hot round, head-to-head scores, etc. be used to break first-place ties. 

Additional Support

Unusual circumstances may occur. This document outlines typical hazards and situations that events may encounter, as cataloged by the Event Support Team. This reference guide should have the answers to most of your questions. If you need clarification or if circumstances arise that are not covered by this document, feel free to email us anytime (including weekends) or call the Event Support hotline at 762-253-2200. The Event Support Team’s hours are 9:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern, Monday through Friday, with weekend coverage from noon to 5:00 pm Eastern (note: staff may also be available on weekends from 9:00 am to noon or from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm Eastern, depending on scheduling).