We’ve all experienced this scenario: You’re close to getting your disc golf disc into the basket. You just know you got this. No doubt. This hole is 100% percent in the bag. Then the inevitable happens: What looked like a beautiful throw carries a little bit and your disc lands on top of the basket! You ask, “how can this happen? What now? And does that even count?” You might debate amongst your friends and ask the better players if they know about this. No one seems to know the answer right off.
What happens if your disc golf disc lands on top of the basket?
If your disc golf disc lands on top of the basket, it does not count. “DROT,” or Disc Resting on Top, is a common occurrence in disc golf. If this happens, it does not count as completing the hole or what the Professional Disc Golf Association calls, “Holing Out.” That shot is no good. In order to score you have to throw again.
You’ve suffered a disc golf tragedy and you must continue on with your game.
Why doesn’t this count?
The Professional Disc Golf Association’s Official Rules of Disc Golf state the ruling very clearly on page 16 of their rulebook in section 803.13(B), otherwise called, “Holing Out.”
Section 803.13(B) states for Disc Entrapment Devices: In order to hole out, the thrower must release the disc and it must come to rest supported by the chains and/or the inner cylinder (bottom and inside wall) of the tray. This includes a disc wedged into or hanging from the lower entrapment section but excludes a disc resting on top of, or hanging outside of, the upper entrapment section. The disc must also remain within the chains or entrapment sections until removed.
What this rule means is that you have to get your disc to fly into the basket chains or into the inside of the basket for it to count.
I get that it’s a rule, but why doesn’t it count?
There are many theories as to why a disc landing on top of the basket doesn’t count. But the most popular theories are as follows:
The first theory that I’ve seen in the disc golf community is that it doesn’t count because it could be possible for someone to develop a ridiculous strategy for getting the disc on top of the basket. This is kind of illogical because landing a disc on top of the basket will almost never happen on purpose.
The second theory is that a line must be drawn somewhere to differentiate scoring by making it into the basket versus making it on top. Rules are rules, some say, and you have to have clear rules in order to make the game competitive. That theory sounds somewhat accurate and I’m sure it has something to do with why there is a rule in the rulebook for it.
The third theory, though, is probably the most accurate. In ball golf, players aim to get the disc into the hole. In disc golf, we are aiming to throw the disc and get it into the basket or the chains above the basket. We are trying to sink the disc into the basket. The whole object of the game is to get the disc into the basket, not onto it. Therefore, the only way to score is to get the disc inside the basket or in the chains.
It’s an unfortunate scenario, but if your disc does land on top of the basket there are a few more issues that we need to address such as what to do if the disc doesn’t come to rest as stated in the rulebook, where you need to put the disc if this does happen, what happens if a disc hits the basket and bounces off, what happens if a disc gets lodged into side of the basket, and how we can try to keep this from happening again.
What do I do if this happens and where should I put the disc?
Let’s say you have gotten unlucky enough to throw that disc on top of the basket. My buddy did this just the other day. He threw what everyone thought was going to be a beautiful putt across a creek and uphill into the basket. But he didn’t make it into the basket. He threw it too high and it landed right on top. After a few tried and true curse words from my friend, we knew right off that, even though the throw was nice, it didn’t count. How in the world can you get so close, but not have it count?! After thinking about the rules, we knew my friend was going to have to do three things in order to score.
1. Take a stroke on the hole: That basket doesn’t count so the next throw will (hopefully) score the basket. You must take your last throw, whatever stroke count you were on, and add that throw as a stroke (two throws + the throw onto the top of the basket = three throws). You will have to throw again and your next throw will be another stroke. (if your next putt goes into the basket, you scored in four throws or four strokes. If your disc had gone into the basket instead of landed on top, you would have scored in three throws or three strokes.)
2. Place your disc: Place the disc, or a disc marker, directly under where the disc is lying on top of the basket. Your marker should be on the ground directly under the basket. If you are playing a friendly game of doubles, your partner may still be able to shoot from the original spot.
3. Throw it again: If you throw from the spot you put the marker at, you should be right next to the basket. This means you can drop it right in. You lost a stroke, but the round’s not over yet!
What about if the disc hits the basket and bounces off?
This is very common. Something that I do almost every round. I throw toward the basket and almost make it in, but the disc may hit the side or the bottom of the basket pole and bounce off. It sucks but it happens. The long short of this question is that your shot doesn’t count. Anything that bounces off the side of the basket, the bottom of the basket, the top of the basket, or even anywhere inside the basket and jumps out does not count. I’ve thrown many discs that graze the chains and fall out. Those do not count either.
If my disc gets stuck in the side of the basket, it counts, right?
Well, yes and no. According to that the PDGA rules that changed in 2011, if you see the disc wedge from the outside, it doesn’t count. If you don’t see the disc wedge, it may count. Also, if you are putting and the disc wedges on the way out, it will count as long as it doesn’t fall to the ground.
Check these out. I know this is a little bit confusing, but just use your best judgment when you play with friends. If you’re in a tournament, there should be a director or scoring referee that can make a ruling for you.
How can I prevent this from happening again?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is something you can’t really prevent. Most of the time, crazy things can happen when you’re throwing a disc. Most of the throws up on top of the basket are pure luck and involve no skill. The throws that bounce off are always very close to going in. But there are a couple things you can focus on that may help you.
What you can do is improve your disc golf game! Continue practicing and getting better in order to avoid these situations to begin with. There are countless disc golf tips online that can help beginners all the way up to advanced players. Check out our awesome tips list, “101 Disc Golf Tips to Take Your Game to the Next Level.” You know what they say: Practice makes permanent!
For a great disc to practice putting with, try out the Dynamic Discs Judge here on InfiniteDiscs.com. That disc has helped me sink my putts better than any other disc out today.
You can also focus on your technique if you want to get better. The better your technique, the more often you will sink those throws instead of having them bounce off the basket or fly wide of it. Here are some common driving mistakes for beginners and here are some tips for consistent throws.
For our beginner technique post, check out, “7 Steps to the Best Disc Golf Technique and a Perfect Throw.” Yeah, that post should do it for you.
The final say
As a general sportsmanship rule, if it feels like it doesn’t count, it probably doesn’t.You can still look up the rules, but make sure you play fair, never try to cheat, and make sure you stay in a positive mindset on the course. The sport of disc golf continues to grow with fantastic community support and the ability of every disc golfer to be able to help keep fair play and ethical play at the forefront of their game scoring and game decisions.
In the end, though, it’s up to you to represent disc golf. So get out there and go throw!