Disc Golf

Is the 2 Meter Rule in Effect?

A Heavily Treed Fairway in Truckee, Ca.

A Heavily Treed Fairway in Truckee, Ca.

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.

My dog Ivan at Snowbowl

My dog Ivan at Snowbowl

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.


5 replies »

  1. The 2 meter rule should never have existed. Think about it. It is not logical. 2 players hit the same tree near the target. 1 player gets lucky & falls from the tree and lands next to the target, the other player has bad luck & stays in the tree and takes a penalty stroke. This makes no sense. They both threw the same shot, but 1 player “got lucky” and the other had bad luck and so he loses because of his luck? Bad idea, stupid rule, maybe even a bad course design to begin with. The bottom line here is this: competitive disc golf should be a true test of skill, NOT LUCK. Banish the 2-meter rule once and for all and KEEP LUCK OUT OF IT! That’s my 2 cents.

    • Thanks for reading and your input.

      I have heard lots of this sentiment and I might be coming over to your side. My counter argument has been that a better throw stays clear of the tree altogether never putting the golfer in the position to take the penalty. It is risk reward. Do I challenge the tree for a more aggressive lie or do I play it safe with the possibility of a longer putt? Ball golfers have to make this choice all the time. There is certainly lots of luck in how a ball comes to rest in a sand trap.

      Also, it would be impossible to remove luck from the disc golf equation. Having discs spit out from the chains, the wind kicking up at the wrong moment, hitting a root you can’t see instead of jumping at the basket is all part of the game.

      Ultimately, I vote for having 1 rule, whatever that rule might be. I play the rule casually because the events I play use the rule and I really think we should practice to the competition we are in. I guess there is enough luck in Disc Golf already and taking some of it out would not be a bad thing. I’m sticking to one rule to rule them all though.

      Thanks again.

  2. Think of it this way Justin – On many many courses you’re not “challenging the tree” if you’re throwing a drive at approximately 7 feet in the air. Lets say I throw a near pure shot 7 feet up and it abrubtly snags a branch, and slows down just enough to be caught by a fellow branch. My oppositions shot is 9 feet in the air and just as pured, but he doesn’t catch the tip of that one branch and gets through cleanly. We both threw great shots. His was actually riskier and closer to the tough ceiling we’re shooting under… but my disc is not only suffering nipping a branch, I’m taking a penalty stroke for it.

    The rule is completely inconsistent with getting true skill based results.

    • Thanks Chris. All of the input has got me thinking even more about this issue.

      I’ve been hearing a whole lot of feedback of this nature with lots of example situations where the rule would be unfair. I could come up with just as many examples about how an out of bounds line or mandatory could be equally unfair.

      I have to admit I learned the game with the rule and am biased just based on my experience. I also have to admit that the nature of the rule is inherently more unfair – so a shot that hangs in a tree 1.99 meters above the playing surface is not penalized but the shot that hangs 2.01 meters above the playing surface is penalized. That certainly is more unfair than whether a disc made it in bounds or not and is arbitrary to the point that I’m not sure what is the purpose of the rule.

      There will always be luck in the game of disc golf just as there is in the game of ball golf. That being said, I am sticking with the main purpose of my article – there should be just one rule regarding trees. The PDGA, and disc golf and general, will never be as strong as it could be with the country being so clearly divided on such a basic issue. Because I’ve always played with the 2-meter rule, I kinda like it for sentimental reasons but would be happier without it if it meant we had a more unified and consistent competitive sport.

  3. 10 years ago it was a hard-and-fast rule. Then instead of getting rid of it, they left it up to the TD. Come on PDGA, make it yea or nay.

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