In disc golf, just like every other game out there, you have to keep score to determine who the winner is. Keeping score helps you know who came out on top, so how do you keep score and what is the best way to keep score in disc golf?
You keep score by adding up however many strokes, or throws, a person has per hole. Count the strokes from every hole you played and whoever has the least amount of strokes wins.
If you’re wondering how to keep score, there are several ways to do this including using scorecards (classic) or smartphone apps (new-gen). Both of those are the best ways to actually keep score on the disc golf course. You can mentally keep score by trying to remember it in your head, but for the sake of tournament play and to keep arguments out of your games, we don’t recommend that.
But let’s break it down a little bit further so that you can head out on the course and show your buddies how much of a boss you are. Plus you can show them how badly they’re going to get beat.
Exactly how you keep score (from your first throw to your last putt)
So, you’re brand new to all of this. You don’t really know much about the game but definitely want to learn more. Your first experience was pretty good or maybe you’re getting ready to go out on the course for the first time. No worries, we got you.
The game of disc golf is pretty simple. The idea is to get your disc from the starting point (the tee) to the disc golf basket (the hole) in as few throws as possible. If you’ve ever seen ball golf, where they play by hitting a golf ball with a club, the scoring works just like that.
Your tee shot is important as it will be your first throw. This throw is almost always the longest of the course (or at least it should be). It’s okay if it takes you a bunch of throws at first. We just wanted you to understand the basic terms of disc golf:
• Tee: where the first “shot” or throw is taken from
• Round: a series of holes usually equaling 9 holes or 18 holes that make up one game of disc golf. The normal amount of holes is 18 on most courses.
• Ace: a hole-in-one or completing the hole in one throw.
• Eagle: completing a hole in two throws less than par (par 5 and completing in three throws or par 4 and completing in two throws).
• Birdie: completing a hole in one throw less than par (par 5 and completing in four throws, par 4 and completing in three throws, or par 3 and completing in two throws)
• Par: the maximum number of throws allowed on that individual hole (ex: par 4 requires you to throw in no more than 4 throws). Also, an individual can play par and get all of his shots during that round in the exact amount of throws allowed.
• Bogey: completing the hole in one throw over par (six shots instead of par 5 or five shots instead of par 4). If you take more throws than that one shot over par, you add double, triple, quadruple, etc. on up to the word bogey. double bogey is two throws over par or +2 and triple bogey is three shots over par or +3. It’s very simple.
Why do I need to know all of those key terms? Well, for a couple of reasons.
1. The goal of the game: the primary reason we all play is to win (and maybe for some fun as well). But the real goal is to get the best score so that you can leave the course and know that you were the best player that day. If you want to play competitively, this counts more than anything. Your score at the end of the round will help you win rounds against better players. As you continue to learn and develop your game, you will start to bring your score lower and lower. Remember – the lowest score wins.
2. Understanding of the game: knowing the terms above, as well as the rules and regulations, will help you develop and understand your game dramatically. Once you know a lot about disc golf, you can start to strategize and find the exact ways you will win the game.
So now that you are beginning to understand the game…
Let’s keep going from where we started earlier:
Let’s just say that you’re throwing on a par 4 hole. You have four throws to sink your putt. After you make the first throw off the tee, you have to take your second throw. This throw should get you a little bit closer to sinking the putt. You let the disc fly and get within 50 feet or so. If you would’ve gotten this shot it, it would have been an eagle.
Up to this point, you’ve taken two throws.
You have two more throws in order to make par on the hole. You’re getting closer to the hole. You can see it and you know you got this. Your next throw is from about 50 feet out. Making this shot is possible, but tough for a beginner (or really anybody). You miss but get within about 10 feet. Almost had it. That would’ve been a birdie. Three throws, one to go. You pull out your trusty putter and give it a flick toward the basket. That shot hits the chains and goes in. Great job! You just got par on the hole.
Let’s keep going for just a second. Say you missed that putt. Making it in the next shot would be a bogey. If you miss that shot, the next shot would be a double bogey. The next shot would be a triple bogey. Then quadruple bogey, quintuple bogey and so on. Most holes, even for a terrible beginner, can be made in no more than two shots over (or double bogey).
You don’t want to go over par if you can help it.
From here, continue to practice and improve your game so that you can always make par and even get some birdies soon. That’s how you win the game.
Who throws next?
Now that’s the $64,000 question. It really depends on the score and whether you’ve just started playing, played a few holes already, or you’re in the middle of a hole and you have to figure out who’s shot it is.
If you think about it, there are really only three situations where you need to figure out who throws next.
The first situation depends on if you’ve even started playing yet. If you’re starting a game and you want to know who throws first and who throws next after, just go to the scorecard or you can make up an order. Remember that scorecard order. In the event of a tie on a hole, whoever throws next is based on the order of the scorecard.
The second situation depends on if you’ve already played a few holes. The person who throws first on the next hole is whoever had the lowest score on the previous hole. For example, on the last hole, I got it in the basket in four throws and my friend scored in five throws. On the next hole, I throw first.
The third situation depends on the distance you are from the basket. Let’s say me and my friend are throwing at the next hole. I go first and throw the disc and it hits a tree. Bad throw and I’m really far from the basket. My friend throws it perfectly and it lands right by the basket. It doesn’t matter how many throws it takes me, because as long as I’m farther away from the basket, I throw next. As soon as I get closer to the basket or sink my putt, my friend is free to throw.
If you would like to learn all of the rules about the order of play, visit PDGA’s rulebook section 802.02 here.
Who is responsible for keeping score?
According to PDGA rule 808, the first person on the scorecard is responsible for keeping score. Essentially, if you’re out playing with friends, whoever goes first should be the scorekeeper. That’s the official rule and is used mainly in tournaments.
But if that person is relatively new to the game, I definitely recommend that a more experienced player keep score and teach the newer players about scoring and other rules on the disc golf course.
The different ways to keep score (Apps and Scorecards)
So now that you’ve gotten all the rules of scoring down, it’s time to look at the three different ways you can actually keep score.
1. Remembering the score: the first way to keep score is the mental way. What we mean by that is either one person (or the group) is responsible for remembering the scores. They can be added up and talked about by the group to ensure accuracy. We normally don’t recommend this (even though me and my friends play like this most of the time) because this can lead to an argument over what the score used to be and what it is now.
2. Scorecards: the second way to keep score is the classic way. A player is responsible for a scorecard which can be a simple piece of paper or a legitimate card with hole information and places to fill in each player’s score. This is a very reasonable way to keep score and a log of all the scores is in writing. This is how tournament play is scored.
3. Smartphone apps: the third way to keep score is my favorite and involves using a smartphone app to add up all of your throws. This is the new-gen way to keep score in disc golf. This is the easy way to keep everyone’s score and guarantee that all scores are correct and accurate.
One of the best apps that I’ve found is the UDisc scorecard app.
It’s really awesome in that you can let it find which course you’re at and it will load course information for you. It allows you to input your score and it keeps track of it for you.
There are also a ton of other scorecard apps that all generally do the same thing. Just type in, “disc golf scorecard,” into the Apple or Google Play store and you will be able to pick from a couple of different apps.
Keeping track of your score is important because it let’s you see how you’re doing as you progress and get better. Tracking your scores can give you motivation to do better when you see your scores improving each round. Also, seeing which holes you’ve struggled with can show you what you need to work on.
Want to get better at disc golf? Check out the quick tips below and start your journey towards becoming an expert in disc golf.
5 quick tips to improve your score
1. Practice makes permanent: continuously practicing is one of the most crucial parts of getting better at disc golf. Practice will never make you perfect, but if you practice the right way, you will get significantly better at the game.
2. Focus on technique, not power: when throwing your disc, one of the most important things to remember is that technique is much more effective than power. Don’t get me wrong, because power has it’s place. But learning the correct techniques will help you throw straight and exactly where you want the disc to go. It doesn’t matter how much power you have if your disc nails that first tree.
3. Learn the basic rules of the game: understanding the basic rules of the game can help you avoid unnecessary penalty throws that will add strokes onto your score. You also need to thoroughly understand the rules and regulations so that you can “kindly” tell your friend that his disc doesn’t count if it lands on top of the basket. Knowing when shots don’t count can help you win the game, too, if others have to take an extra penalty stroke or two. But you don’t always have to play with every single rule in place. There are a lot of rules that can be scrapped if you’re playing informally with friends.
4. Learn how to putt: you have to learn the short game in order to master disc golf (or at least shave a couple of strokes off of your score. The short game can really be a killer if you don’t start to learn it now. It doesn’t matter how great your throw was if it takes you three more putts to get it into the basket.
5. Get a mentor: playing with someone better than you can really up your game and help to lower your disc golf score. Good mentor players always bring more motivation, better technique, and better tips to help you improve. Always, always, always seek to find people who will help you get better.