What is a Mando in Disc Golf? The Mandatory Explained


A day out on the disc golf course is always awesome. And while we play, obstacles and course landscapes really define how we throw the disc and strategize our game.

Every single course is different and some courses even use simple methods to change the way we play on them.

One of those methods of changing the game up is called the Mandatory or Mando. It isn’t used often in casual disc golf and isn’t all that frequent in tournaments, but it’s a great way to change how we play and it can add some interesting disc golf play into each round. But what the heck is it?

Today, we’re going to be looking at the Mandatory, or Mando, and explaining what it is, why we have it, when it’s used, the official PDGA rules, and a 3 ways to never ever miss a Mando. So let’s get to it!

What is a Mando in disc golf?

A Mando, or Mandatory, is a directional obstacle in disc golf that indicates how a player must play a hole. This marker can indicate that discs must go past, around, within, over or under the mandatory marking and can result in a penalty if a player fails to comply.

So basically, a Mando is a sign or marker that tells you how you have to play. They aren’t used that often, but can completely change the difficulty of a hole and can make rounds pretty interesting.

Why do we have the Mandatory in disc golf?

There are three huge reasons why the Mando is a must have on some holes/courses.

1. Safety: there are a lot of public park courses that border either public roads, other park areas, or pedestrian areas. In all of those cases, course designers or tournament directors may put up a Mandatory to try and keep discs from flying into those areas.

2. Change the difficulty of the hole/course: because some holes are just too easy, Mandos might be placed on a hole for an added layer of difficulty during tournaments and such.

3. Course design limitations: kind of similar to #1, but disc golf courses will have borders and such where designers will have to put up a Mandatory in order to keep you out of the nearby swamp, ocean, or quicksand.

The PDGA rule

I’m not going to bore you too much with the technical. But here’s the official PDGA rule:

804.01(A) Mandatory Routes and Objects

A. “A mandatory route restricts the path the disc may take to the target. It is defined by one or more mandatory objects. Each mandatory object indicates whether the mandatory route passes to the left, right, below, or above it. The most common mandatories are: a single mandatory, which defines a mandatory route to the right or left; a double mandatory, which defines a mandatory route between two single mandatories; and a height-restricted double mandatory, which adds an upper boundary to a double mandatory.”

You can check that rule out here on PDGA.com.

When is the Mandatory used?

Tournaments: most of the time that you see a Mando, it’s going to be in a competitive tournament. The tournament director and staff are going to want to challenge players and so Mandos may be added.

Other: A Mandatory can be added to any hole on any course so you could see these during casual rounds on your local course.

The Different Types of Mandatories

Single: the single Mando is usually going to be a marker indicating that a player must throw their disc either to the right or the left of an object.

Double: the double Mando indicates that a player must play between two single Mandatories. A great example of this would be a regular fairway with a Mandatory on each side indicating a player must stay on the fairway and not go to the right or left into woods or other off-limit boundaries.

Height-restricted: a height-restricted double Mando makes you play under a height boundary. So if there are over hanging branches on a fairway, you must play within the fairway but under the branches.

What happens if I miss a Mandatory? The other PDGA rule

First, dont freak out! It’s not the end of the world if this happens. But here’s the official rule:

804.02(C) Prohibited Routes

C. “A player who makes a throw that misses a mandatory receives one penalty throw. The lie for the next throw is the drop zone for that mandatory or, if no drop zone has been designated, the previous lie.”

So, it is a penalty if you throw your disc past and miss a mandatory. You will be assessed a penalty stroke and you’ve gotta throw again from the drop zone or the previous lie. Pretty simple and similar to an out of bounds throw.

However, if your disc goes past a Mandatory in the wrong direction, but comes back past it, it isn’t a penalty. For example: say there’s a Mandatory on a tree to the right. It says you have to stay to the left of the tree. If you throw your disc too far right but it hyzers hard and comes back to the left past the Mandatory, there’s no penalty. Again, similar to out of bounds throws.

You can find this rule here on PDGA.com.

3 ways to never miss a Mandatory

1. Know every Mando

Make sure before you play a round or a tournament, you know each and every Mando on the course. Not just that, but exactly what kind of Mandatory it is, exactly where it is, and what you have to do to get past that Mando successfully.

2. Play it safe

If you’re facing a really challenging Mandatory, it might be best to lay it up and play it super safe. Sometimes it’s just best to not take the risk…especially in a tournament or competitive round.

3. Practice during all rounds

A good rule of thumb for always successfully making your Mandatories is to practice using them during all of your rounds. Practice up and you’ll get much better at hitting your mark.

The last word

Well hopefully you’ve learned a little something about Mandatories today. They’re not really hard to understand but can make a big impact on your score if you don’t follow them on the course. And even though they’re not all that common, the courses that have them tend to be just a bit more interesting to play because of them.

Related content

You can also check out our awesome related content.

What if My Disc Golf Disc Lands on Top of the Basket?

What if My Disc Golf Disc Goes Out of Bounds?

What if My Disc Golf Disc Lands in the Water?

Thanks for reading, disc golfers!

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I am an avid disc golfer and lover of the sport. My mission with DiscgolfNOW.com is to reach as many people as possible to help them love disc golf, too!

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