Disc golf putting rules are not complex in most situations, yet they are frequently misunderstood and a subject of debate. There are of course some uncommon situations not explicitly covered by putting rules and you need to understand how to apply the rules. Putting is an essential part of disc golf and if you don’t understand the rules you can easily earn yourself penalty shots. We want to see you score well so here is our explanation of disc golf putting rules in normal language.
What Are The Disc Golf Circles?
There are two Circles in disc golf which are used to indicate the putting area of each hole. Circle 1 is any area within 10 meters (32.8 ft) of the basket and any throw from this area is considered a putt. Circle 2 is any area within 20 meters (65.6 ft) and outside of 10 meters from the basket.
Circle 2 is not an offical PDGA designation and shots in this area are not held to putting rules. Circle 2 was created only as an analysis tool and is rarely marked on the course, whereas Circle 1 is usually marked for sanctioned tournements. You can read the official PDGA rules around the regulated putting area here: https://www.pdga.com/rules/official-rules-disc-golf/80601
This post was written by the DG Puttheads and originally posted on dgputtheads.com.
Not sure if you are in Circle 1? Ask the members in your group. Remember, it is the other players in your group who are responsible for calling a violation on you and any disagreements are taken to a tournament official. Clarifying questions in advance with the people responsible for enforcing the rules is a great way to avoid penalties.
Legal Disc Golf Putting Stances
There are no rules specific to disc golf putting stances that do not apply to normal throwing so you should know the PDGA rules on throwing stances. The first thing to know is that your lie starts at the back edge of where your disc landed and is 20cm wide (7.8 inches) and 30cm deep (11.8 inches). If you were to draw a line from the middle of your disc directly to the basket, the lie would be centered on that line. That’s a pretty small area!
You may replace your disc with a mini marker touching the front edge of your disc. You must have one body part balancing yourself inside the lie and you cannot have any body parts balancing yourself in front of the lie. That means you cannot lean against a tree limb that is closer to the basket than your disc. That also means that it is legal to lean backward against a tree as long as you still have one foot in the lie for balance. Your lie is on the ground so you cannot putt from a tree without balancing in your lie on the ground.
There is only one rule specific to putting that does not apply to standard throws:
After having released a putt, the player must demonstrate full control of balance behind the marker disc before advancing toward the target.
This means that when you are in Circle 1, you cannot step over your lie during your putting motion. Unfortunately this rule is pretty vague, but most disc golfers interpret this to mean that you have to visibly pause after you have released your disc before you can cross over your lie. This is a good point to clarify with your group or a tournament official if you frequently step over your marker while putting.
Do you want to become a better disc golfer? We have a book here on using data to do just that!
Are Jump Putts Legal In Disc Golf?
Yes, jump putts are legal in disc golf outside of Circle 1 (10 meters), however you must have one balance point inside your lie when you release your disc. That means that your putter must be in flight before you jump (before your balancing point lifts off of the lie). Inside of Circle 1, a player must “demonstrate full control of balance behind the marker” so jumping over your disc marker would not be considered controlled balance.
If you are interested in different putting styles you may want to consider push putting, which you can read about here.
What Counts As In The Basket In Disc Golf?
Your disc must enter through the side of the basket and above the cage. When it lands it must be supported only by the target which would usually mean the pole, the chains and the cage. That means that landing on top of the basket does not count or even being wedged in the side of the cage from the outside (which can happen with soft putters).
This also means that if your putter hits chains and spits out, it does not count. Your putt does not count even if you hit the metal pole or the bottom of the basket and bounces out. If your disc slides through the holes on top of the basket, it does not count. Disc golf putting is a harsh world.
Disc Golf Putting Rules FAQs
The general rules for disc golf putting only cover a few specific areas and do not get into specific situations. This is primarily because most of the same rules that apply to throwing also apply to putting. However, there are some specific questions around what is and is not legal in disc golf putting not explicitly writte. It is a great idea to carry an official disc golf rule book with you especially for tournaments, you can pick one up here:
PDGA Official Disc Golf Rule Book
Here are a few frequently asked questions around disc golf putting rules.
Do I have to use a putter in disc golf?
No, there are no rules requiring the use of a putter. You can putt with a distance driver if you wish and some players do this, especially in the wind.
Can I putt with a disc golf mini?
Yes, you can putt with a disc golf mini marker as long as the mini marker is PDGA approved. However, putting with a disc golf mini is not recommended as it can easily slide through the chains. You’ll also look like an idiot.
Does it count if my putter lands on top of the basket?
No, landing on top of a disc golf basket is not considered in; your putter must enter from the side of the basket, above the cage, and below the bottom of the chain support.
What happens if my putter hits another players bag?
If your disc hits another players bag, you play your shot where it lies and that player may be assessed a courtesy violation (and penalty shot for second courtesy violation) if a tournament offical thinks it was left there intentionally to interfere with a throw or distract another player. PDGA rules do not explicitly penalize you if your disc hits another players bag but you could be accused of improper play or unsportsmanlike conduct if you do not request equipment be moved when it is in a reasonable play area. If your disc hits your own bag then you play your shot where it lies and a penalty shot is assessed against you. You are responsible for requesting that other players move their belongings if you think there is a chance of hitting them with your disc. If that player refuses then it is considered a courtesy violation against them.
Can I move a branch that is in my putting line?
No, you cannot move any obstacle on the disc golf course unless it is something loose like rocks or sticks affecting your stance.
Can I take a practice putt in disc golf?
Yes, you can take a practice putt in disc golf, but you will be assessed a penalty shot that counts on your score for that hole. Be careful because the PDGA defines a practice shot as any throw that is not made as an attempt to change your lie (with a couple exceptions). This usually applies as a penalty when a player misses a putt and tosses another disc at the basket out of frustration, so it could be controversial for you to declare in advance that you don’t intend a throw from your lie to count. Anyway, taking a penatly for a practice throw would usually be ridiculous so it’s probably best not to bother.
Can I putt from my knees in disc golf?
Yes, putting from you knees in disc golf is legal as long as you have one balancing point inside your lie and are not touching anything in front of your lie.
You’ll probably want a disc golf foam knee pad if you’re going to putt from your knees so here are some options.
Can I putt laying down in disc golf?
Yes, putting while laying down in disc golf is legal as long as you have one balancing point inside your lie and are not touching anything in front of your lie.
Can I putt while sitting on my disc golf stool?
No, you cannot putt while sitting on a disc golf stool. According to PDGA Rule 813.02, no device may be used to directly assist with making a throw. A disc golf stool would be considered an item that directly assists with making the throw because it is assisting your balance and stance. Any item questioned by any other player is automatically considered illegal until a tournament official provides approval. Then again, if you wanted to putt while sitting down it would probably hurt more than help, so I would not personally complain. So good luck with that.
It’s still a great idea to have a disc golf seat for long days on the course. You can find good tournament seat options here.
What Putters Should I Try?
Don’t worry, we have plenty of recommendations!
If you are new to disc golf you may want to look over our Best Disc Golf Putters for Beginners suggestions.
For those of you who are refining your disc golf game, try our Best Disc Golf Putters for each use recommendations.
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Whomever wrote this article is misinformed on some key points… I recommend reading the PDGA rules thoroughly and re-writing the article so new players are informed properly
Bruce, please let us know of your specific concerns using our contact form and we will look into them. Thank you.
” It must also land in the basket supported only by the chains, middle pole, or inside of the cage. ” This is not correct. The rules, as linked, state if must enter between the top of the tray and the bottom of the chain support, and also be supported by the target. This means you can break that cylinder and then hang on by the basket nubs and count as in! There is an awesome image on the PDGA rules FAQ under completing the hole that clarifies this well. Many things count as in that some disc golfers might not know.
Thanks Lia, the PDGA simplified their wording of this rule since we wrote the article so I have updated to reflect their simplification.
How is Garett Guthrie’s Putt Legal???
His Right Foot is Clearly past the Disc line perpendicular
To the basket..
Can anyone explain this?
Hi Joshua, without knowing which video you are referring to I can’t be sure, but it is possible no one caught it during play. Other players on the card are responsible for calling infractions such as these and they are often missed. Also, toward the end of the rule book the PDGA explicitely states that video cannot be used as evidence of infractions other than courtesy violations so no one can be penalized for a stance violation based on the recording.
Can you place your knee on a mini or towel when putting from one knee?
Hi Frank, yes you may use a kneepad or towel under your knee. According to disc golf rule 813.02 titled ‘Illegal Devices'(https://www.pdga.com/rules/official-rules-disc-golf/81302), towels and pads are allowed under a supporting point (in this case your knee) as long as they are not greater than 1 centimenter in thickness when compressed.
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The future is right around the corner.