We’ve all been to the depths of the Out of Bounds area. It’s a place where no disc golfer wants to be, but seems to find way too often. Out of bounds marks the area where the disc goes out of the regular playing area on a disc golf course. But I see a lot of people asking about what actually happens when your disc golf disc goes out of bounds.
So what does happen if I throw my disc out of bounds?
If you throw your disc out of bounds, you lose a stroke (or throw), but get to keep playing from either just in bounds, the previous spot you threw from, or a designated drop zone on the course.
It’s a simple rule, really, and shouldn’t get you too flustered. But if you’re not careful, the Out of Bounds (OB) area can be devastating to your game. It can ruin you if you don’t avoid it. Let’s take a look at the PDGA ruling on discs going out of bounds.
The PDGA rule for throwing a disc Out of Bounds
The PDGA rule for an Out of Bounds disc is 806.02 in the Official Rules for Disc Golf. 806.02 gives the definition of an out of bounds shot, which states that you must take a penalty stroke for throwing your disc out of bounds, and states where you need to make your next throw from. The PDGA website rulebook can be found here on PDGA.com if you need to see the specific wording of this rule or any other rule.
Do I throw it from out of bounds?
Following the PDGA rule 806.02, there are a few places that you can throw from after your disc goes out of bounds, but the out of bounds area is not one of them. There are 5 places you may throw from:
1. “The previous lie of the disc, 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.”
Additionally, with discretion from the tour director, you may 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.”
But if you’re playing a friendly game amongst friends, you can throw from the out of bounds area if you want to. This can be a challenging feat especially if you go way out of bounds. Why not try to get it from there to the hole?
How to recover from an out of bounds throw
So, you’ve finally figured out where your disc was and it just so happened to go out of bounds. That sucks. But now you have to find a way to recover from that shot because you’ve lost some ground already.
I’ve personally seen a lot of players completely tank a hole after going out of bounds. A par 4 can turn into 8 or more throws if you’re not careful.
But how can I recover from this?
You can do one of three things:
1. Shake it off: forget that you threw it out of bounds and try to do your best to keep yourself in the game. I’d say just try and forget about the bad throw if you can because it’s really not a big deal. This is probably the best way to handle the situation.
2. Say f*ck it: you can also try to make up for lost ground by just trying to launch the disc while saying, “f*ck it!” You’re already behind so why not try to throw the disc the entire length of the hole and Happy Gilmore your shot. You never know, you may get your first ace!
3. Take a mulligan: while mulligans aren’t allowed in professional play, you can always have a mulligan ready to go in a friendly game amongst friends. Just don’t overdo it and take a mulligan for every single bad throw you have. Did you really win the game if you took 23 mulligans? I think not.
What if I can’t find my disc?
Nothing is more unlucky than losing one of your discs (Well, maybe losing multiple discs in one round). But what happens if you can’t find your disc?
That depends on whether you can find it or not.
If you think you’ve lost your disc, you can check out our lost discs guide here or try the following couple of tips.
1. Look hard: You don’t want to lose your disc. That’s money gone if you lose it.
2. Look fast: According to the Official Rules for Disc Golf, a player has three minutes to find his or her disc before you have to take a penalty stroke.
3. Go ahead and add a stroke: You will have to take a penalty stroke (add 1 extra throw into your throw tally) in your round to play with a new disc.
Now, the three minute rule is only only for those players who play in official tournaments. It’s okay to play with these rules, but I personally almost always play without them. Most of the time, I’m more worried about having to buy new discs.
If you absolutely cant find your disc, that’s okay. Hopefully you have put your name and phone number on it like I mentioned in the lost discs guide linked above. If your disc is lost, hop on InfiniteDiscs.com or Amazon.com and grab you another one.
Side Note: when you first get a disc, ALWAYS put your name and number on the disc in case you lose it. Most disc golf players will return a lost disc if your information is clearly labeled on the disc.
If you find your disc, you can keep playing with that disc, but check to see if it went out of bounds. All you have to do is add 1 penalty stroke if it went out of bounds. If it’s a playable disc, and not out of bounds, go ahead and play on without adding a penalty stroke.
How to keep the disc from going out of bounds
I’d love to tell you that there is a surefire way to always keep your disc out of the Out of Bounds area but there’s not. What I can give you are a couple of quick tips to help you try and stay in bounds:
1. Always try to read the course: don’t just blindly throw the disc in the direction you’re told or the direction you believe the basket is. Verify which direction the basket is so you can figure out your throw.
2. Practice so you can throw farther better and more accurately: always work on your technique and perfect it so you can be more accurate. Other than just trying to be more accurate, you need to practice so you can get better.
3. Find out which type of throw is best for you: there are a ton of different ways to throw and the key to being more accurate is to use the right type of throw on each hole.
Other than those 3 tips, make sure you are really trying to keep your disc in bounds. A solid effort will almost always help you stay accurate. Focus on your throw and where you want it to go. If you do all of these things, you won’t need to worry about the Out of Bounds areas on the course.
Do I have to play with this rule?
Out of bounds play is a huge part of professional disc golf. If you play professionally or in tournaments, you have to play by all the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) rules. That means no mulligans allowed, penalty strokes added for out of bounds throws, and proper rule-following through each round.
BUT if you’re playing fun, competitive rounds with friends, you don’t have to follow every single rule in the book. In fact, you can just scrap all the rules and throw the disc if you want to.
Disc golf is a game that can be played any way you want to. You can play as many holes or as many rounds as you want to. You can play with an out of bounds area or just throw and play from wherever it lands.
What we suggest at first is to just play. Learn the techniques, get good throwing form, figure out how to throw more accurately, and don’t worry so much about all of the PGDA rules at first. Once you get better and think about playing tournaments (or at a higher level), then you can focus on rules and specific details of the game.
For now, just play. Go get out there and throw!
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