I recently played a round with a couple really good friends of mine, Miller and Armando, and one of us got a disc in a tree. It happens a lot less than one would think with all the trees on most disc golf courses and, unlike most rounds we play, we did not impose the 2 meter rule 1 stroke penalty. I’m still not quite sure why.
The 2 meter rule is by far the oddest rule in disc golf. I really got into the game in Flagstaff, AZ and we always played the 2 meter rule. The rule was so ubiquitous that I thought it was a hard and fast rule of the game. I was frequently annoyed at the guy at events who invariably yelled out at the players meeting, “Is the two meter rule in effect?” I didn’t understand. How can you just disregard a rule?
After reading the rule book through thoroughly, I discovered that it is not a rule, it’s more like a suggestion. I came to understand that it was like the windmill hole on a putt putt course – the windmill might be on or it might be off. So why do we call it a rule? And why do we play it universally on the West Coast but, as I understand it from internet conversation, almost never on the East Coast?
The best reason for the existence of the rule was expressed really well on a Reddit thread and went something like, “Without the rule, all you have to do is hang your disc in a tree near the basket , mark your lie under it, and have an easy putt for birdie. Without the rule, a player can substitute a far larger target, the tree, for the competition level basket target.”
I’ve read lots of opinions on the rule that state East Coast courses are more heavily treed than West Coast courses and that is why the rule is not applied. I’ve played golf in two eastern states and two western states and don’t see any difference in the possibility of trees on a course.
It is exactly this kind of inconsistency that we need to avoid if we are to become a more popular and respected professional sport. What other sport has rules that may or may not be in effect? Not a single one that I can think of. Sure an out-of-bounds line might exist on a course or not, but if it does, it is not played differently in Ohio than it is in Oregon. And trust me, there are plenty of heavily treed courses in California, Oregon, and Washington.
The only thing that really matters is that all the competitors play the course the same so theoretically we could choose to institute the rule universally or not have it at all and it would make equal sense. I personally think the rule should stay.
We can always choose what rules we want to enforce during a casual round – my personal rules are a penalty stroke if my disc is surrounded by water or higher than 2 meters in a tree. I usually don’t play o.b. lines unless there is a clearly marked line. But during an event, the rule should be used all the time.
The rule isn’t going to make more discs land in trees. The lie is played the same way whether a stroke penalty is applied or not so it is not maintaining speed of play. How many competitive golfers are regularly getting their discs stuck in trees anyway?
We can choose to play a rule that rewards the better, more consistent, skillful shot or choose to allow golfers to huck it at the trees and hope. Do what you want during your casual round but let’s standardize competition disc golf the world around. The challenge is more fun and we will be better respected for it.