Trees. Yes, you know those huge wooden obstacles that never ever seem to let us get to the disc golf basket. Those gigantic natural pranksters that laugh at us by drawing discs in and helping them ricochet into the backyards of nearby suburban neighborhoods. Oh yeah, you know about those trees. So does everybody else on the disc golf course.
Now normally, our discs “thwak” and “clunk” off the trees. But what about when a tree swallows up a disc and fails to let it fall out? And what about if your disc gets stuck in a tree during competitive play? What do you do?
What happens if my disc golf disc gets stuck in a tree?
If your disc golf disc gets stuck in a tree, it is only a penalty if a tournament official calls it as a penalty or if the disc is out of bounds in the tree. If the tree is in bounds, and there is no two-meter ruling, it is not a penalty. Retrieve your disc and keep on playing.
The PDGA rule
As of 2019, there is no PDGA rule that dictates a specific penalty for discs stuck in trees. There is a rule, however, that can dictate penalties for discs stuck two meters or more off the ground.
Remember: two meters is 6.74 feet. This is about a foot taller than the average person. If you have to reach up for the disc, it’s probably over the two-meter mark.
The two-meter rule, found in PDGA rule 805.02 states this:
“A. The two-meter rule refers to the rules within 805.02. It is not in effect unless the Director declares it to be in effect. The Director may declare the two-meter rule to be in effect for the entire course, for particular holes, and/or for individual objects.
B. If the two-meter rule is in effect when a disc has come to rest at least two meters above the in-bounds playing surface (as measured from the lowest point of the disc to the playing surface directly below it), the player receives one penalty throw. The position of the disc is on the playing surface directly below the disc.
C. A disc supported by the target for the hole being played is not subject to the two-meter rule.
D. If the thrower moves the disc before a determination has been made, the disc is considered to have come to rest above two meters.”
So technically, the two-meter rule is not permanently in effect. But it can be depending on if the tournament director/official says so. It’s an old rule that used to be permanent, but is pretty outdated up to this point in disc golf. A Few places and tournaments will still use this rule, though.
Check out this quick link where the PDGA answers the question, “Is the two-meter rule still in effect?”
Out of Bounds
The other rule that can affect you if your disc gets stuck up in a tree is Out of Bounds rule 806.02. While the two-meter rule may not apply, if your disc gets stuck in a tree out of bounds, that OB rule can and will hurt your score. But the disc has to be completely surrounded by out of bounds territory.
You can check out Out of Bounds rule 806.02 here. This is what the rule states:
“A. An out-of-bounds (OB) area is an area designated by the Director from which a disc may not be played, and within which a stance may not be taken. The out-of-bounds line is part of the out-of-bounds area. Any area of the course that is not out-of-bounds is in-bounds.
B. A disc is out-of-bounds if its position is clearly and completely surrounded by an out-of-bounds area.”
So is it a penalty?
Well, yes and no. If the tournament director deems that the throw is over two meters and the two-meter rule is in effect, then it is a penalty. 1 penalty stroke will be added to your score. If the two-meter rule is not in effect, there’s no penalty.
If the disc is out of bounds in the tree, it will be a penalty. 1 penalty stroke is added to your score. But if the disc is in bounds, no penalty is assessed.
So you have to make sure you always keep the disc in bounds and put of the trees. If you can do that, you won’t ever be assessed any penalties on your throws.
Where do I throw from?
In bounds: if your throw gets stuck in a tree, your next throw (as long as it was in bounds) will be from right under where the disc came to rest. If the throw is above the trunk, the next throw will be as close as possible to where the disc could be played and not any closer to the hole than the at-rest disc in the tree.
Out of bounds: if the throw is out of bounds, there are five places that the disc can be played from. The PDGA states as follows –
“1. The previous lie; or,
2. A lie designated by a marker disc placed on the playing surface at any point on a one-meter line that is perpendicular to the out-of-bounds line at the point where the disc was last in-bounds; or,
3. 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.
The above options for an out-of-bounds area may be limited by the Director only with prior approval from the PDGA Tour Manager.
At the Director’s discretion, the player may additionally choose to play the next throw from:
4. Within the designated drop zone; or,
5. A lie designated by a marker disc placed on the playing surface at any point on a one-meter line that is perpendicular to the out-of-bounds line at the point that is nearest to the position of the disc.”
Here are 6 ways to help you get your disc out of the tree
1. Climb it: if you have squirrel-like climbing abilities, aren’t afraid of heights, and the tree is big enough, you can scurry up that redwood and grab the disc yourself. Nothing like being up for a challenge, right?
2. Shake it: if the tree is tall and thin, this option could work. Try to get as much leverage as you can on the tree and just shake the sh*t out of it until your disc falls to the ground. I haven’t had to do this yet but it could work.
Ok, seriously…you can try this
3. Baseball or hockey puck: either one of these two items is a really good option for trying to get your disc out of trees. Discs, bags, and other items can easily get stuck. But baseballs and hockey pucks will almost never. They’re too heavy and small for branches to catch them. You can grab a baseball here on Amazon and a hockey puck here on Amazon.
4. The Disc Gator disc retriever: this disc retrieving tool is pretty interesting in that it’s a long pole that reaches up (or into water) to grab discs. It’s similar to one of those Gopher grabbers. But it has a total length of over 11 feet and is a great option for discs that aren’t too far over your head. You can grab one of these here on Amazon.
5. A huge stick/branch: if you can find a huge stick or branch that can reach the disc, this may be your last good option before we get to number six on our list. I’ve used branches multiple times to get discs out of reach
6. (Only as a last resort) another disc: if you’ve tried every other method to get your disc back, the Disc Gator won’t reach, the tree is too high up, the disc won’t shake out, and you just don’t have a baseball or hockey puck, you can always resort to throwing another disc at it. Now I definitely do not recommend this, because if one disc can get stuck, so can two discs. Then you’re really screwed. But this can work as an absolute last resort.
Also check out these resources
Out of Bounds play
We have a really good resource on Out of Bounds play here. If you are interested, it gives just a little bit more detailed information about what happens whenever your disc goes out of bounds, how to play it, and where to play it.
If your disc ricocheted off a tree and landed in the water, we’ve got a great post to show you exactly what you need to do. You can check that out here: “What if My Disc Golf Disc Lands in the Water?”
If you lose your disc
We do have a bit of information on what to do if you lose your disc in our post called, “The Beginners Guide to Finding Lost Disc Golf Discs.” It will help you find (and hang onto) all of your discs.
If you’re just out of luck and you need to replace a disc or two, head over to InfiniteDiscs.com and grab yourself some new plastic!
If you’re looking for more answers to those frequently asked questions, check out our FAQ page here. And if you want more awesome content, check out the posts below.