Disc Golf

Disc Golf Etiquette Part 1: Playing Through

A group at Tahoe Vista that let me play through

A group at Tahoe Vista that let me play through

We have all been there.  You see a group a few holes in front of you.  Maybe it is a party group.  Maybe they are playing doubles.  You know you are going to catch them and you are hoping they will be cool and let you play through. One thing about disc golf is that it is laid back. Sometimes that means you will encounter a “Mob Golf” group or a group playing doubles. Maybe you encounter a family with some children or a group that has just started playing golf. Maybe you come across me and some of my golf buddies – we are all notoriously deliberate.

“Playing Through” is a courtesy that should be extended in every possible situation – sadly, it is a courtesy that is not offered enough on the disc golf course. I have seen some terribly rude behavior when a group wouldn’t let the faster group play through. I have seen equally rude behavior when a group is playing through and the forward group is not polite while they are doing so. Because of the frequency of misbehavior while playing through, I came up with a couple of guidelines that, if followed, will make the act of playing through easier, more pleasant, and have less of an impact on everyone’s scores.

1. Always offer to let a group play through when they catch you on the tee pad or when they have to wait for more than a minute or two while you finish a hole. We all want to play in our own rhythm, whatever that rhythm maybe. I personally prefer not to throw while there is a group watching my every move. I feel rushed. I imagine the conversation they are having. I perform poorly. For me, I try to play at a pace that mimics a tournament pace as much as possible. Some people want to play at a far faster pace and throw poorly when they have to wait too long. Because I play slow, I frequently offer to let faster groups play through. A group should never have to ask to play through.

Just like a car camping in the left lane on the highway without a vehicle in front of them, not letting faster groups play through is incredibly rude. This happens often and I’m not sure why.  There is one exception to this rule – if the course is so busy that everyone is waiting on every hole playing through doesn’t really help anyone. When this happens,it is best to slow your own play to reduce waits on the tee pad and to have a little more patience.

2. If at all possible, let groups play through at the tee pad and not while you are on the fairway. We should all be aware enough on the course to know when a play through situation is coming; we should all be polite enough to make that happen in between holes. Playing through a group in the middle of a hole usually requires yelling to the group waiting and is not considerate of other groups on the course. It is also more dangerous because discs will be coming down the fairway where the forward group is waiting,

The main acceptable reason for playing through a group while they are on the fairway is when the forward group is looking for a lost or treed disc. Looking for, or retrieving, a lost or hung disc can take a lot of time. The first thing a group should do in this situation is see if there is a group that should be allowed to play through. The forward group should move from the field of vision as much as possible. One of the forward group should stand guard against discs injuring players.

3. Be as polite as possible while a group is playing through. There are all kinds of people playing disc golf these days and you never know what kind of group is playing through, or inviting you to play through, so be respectful. Maintain tournament quiet while others are on the tee or preparing to throw on the hole. Turn off any music or cell phones that had been in use. Watch your language. Don’t move in someone’s field of vision. Even if chatting while you throw isn’t personally bothersome, it is to a lot of players.

Playing through is frequently hard on a player’s score. Nothing like immediate performance anxiety in front of a group of strangers. There is added pressure because another group is now waiting on you just like you were just waiting on them. All eyes are on you. You want to look good. You want to give the forward group a good reason for having let you play through. Following these simple guidelines will ease the pressure on your score and alleviate tension between the two group. Playing through can be hard to do so do it professionally.


4 replies »

  1. I’m relatively new to Disc Golf and I love how you laid out all the “rules” for playing through. Nice blog, I’ll be sure to follow along. 🙂

  2. Another logistical method we use is to have everyone from both groups tee and then allow the playing-through group to walk ahead to their lies with the passed-group simply taking a little break to allow the play-through group to finish the hole.

    At that point, the play-through group hopefully enjoyed a no-pressure pass and the passed-group will resume the hole from their first lies. This has proven to be a very smooth approach. In other words, don’t let the passing group drive until everyone from the passed group drives. Then none of the passed group players should throw again until the passing group finishes the hole and safely moves to the next tee.

    Long story, but it works very well and you get the sense of having both groups enjoy the hole together since it feels like you shared the tee itself.

    Thanks again for great tips! Playing through should be as easy and comfortable as possible to keep everyone focusing on fun.

  3. Just how many single players am I supposed to let play through our group? I’m tired of players showing up at the course an hour before sunset and thinking just because they are rushing through a round I’m supposed to stand aside. I’m done finishing in the dark just so I can be “nice”. Where is the etiquette coming from the other side that says, “Hey, I got a late start. Don’t put the burden on the groups that are already playing .” Spock said it best, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.

    • Hi. I think a paragraph about the etiquette of playing as a single on a busy course would have been a good addition. I don’t play solo on a course that has waits on every hole. Not fun or cool. I don’t feel obligated to let anyone play through when I am waiting on every hole. If the course is stacked up, the single has to understand he or she is not going to have a smooth round. It isn’t anyone’s fault – it’s just busy. I also don’t let more than one group play through on a single hole. I rarely let groups play through two holes in a row. This is all dependent on circumstances – if you’re in a group of over 4 players, you better be letting everyone through.

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