What is the Disc Golf Glossary
Whether you’re a new or seasoned player, there will come a time when another player says a word pertaining to disc golf that you’ve never heard before. Chances are, you can catch the meaning by the context of the conversation, but for those other times, when you need a bit more explanation or a concept requires a bit more detail, this glossary will be there to help you along the way.
The set of terms and explanations below is as close to a complete list of common disc golf words and phrases that I’ve learned while playing the great game of disc golf. As I learn new things, I will try my best to add to this list so that we have the most comprehensive disc golf glossary available.
A quick note on links. This page has quite a lot of links which will allow you to jump around the page to different sections very quickly. I’ll try my best to include a link to each term I mention in a description, so if you’re not sure what that term means, you can jump to it and find out. I hope this helps!
Scoring an ace is an incredibly difficult task and is often seen as a badge of pride among players. It’s customary to sign the back or front of the disc you scored the ace with, along with writing the date, course and hole number on the disc. You may also have the other players who are with you sign their names as well, but that is optional. It is discouraged and considered poor etiquette to sign the basket itself or any other piece of the course like the tee pad or tee marker. Also, don’t forget the obligatory high-fives and celebration.
Below is a great video of a tournament ace.
Anhyzer (sometime called Anny) is an angle of release. With an anhyzer throw, the disc should leave your hand with the furthest edge tilted slightly upwards towards you. This forces the disc to fly more left to right than it would if thrown flat when throwing RHBH (or right to left when throwing LHBH.)
Using an anyzer release is a great way to change the normal flight path of a disc, which is great for getting around obstacles in the course like trees, tall bushes, water and OB lines, or to get around sharp turns in the course. You can also use an anhyzer release to perform more advanced shots like the flex shot.
An anhyzer throw will still fight to fade in the direction it normally would, but the amount of fade will depend greatly on the stability of the disc thrown. Overstable discs will come back to flat then fade in the direction they normally would, whereas and strong anhyzer throw might cause an understable disc to turn over completely and crash into the dirt.
A backhand throw in disc golf is a throw made with the disc in front of the body, starting with the reach back, then the pull, then the release and follow through. It is the most common throwing style in disc golf and looks similar to a traditional frisbee throw.
Although the backhand shot may look very similar to the traditional way one might throw and normal frisbee, it differs in that it engages the entire body to the put most power into the disc. The most common way to do this is by using a technique called the X Step which is a specific way of running up to throw.
Eric Oakley covers some of the basics of the backhand throw in the video below.
A disc golf basket, or sometimes called a cage, is the target players aim at while playing the game. Typically, the target is made of a metal basket on a pole with chains hanging down over the basket. Players complete each hole by throwing their disc into the chains, which causes their disc to drop down into the basket.
Most players use the term basket or cage, but the official term is actually target. However, I would stick to basket or cage in normal play with friends as target is not commonly used. If interested, you can check out the official standards for targets on the PDGA website by clicking here.
Most baskets are mounted in the ground, but some are made to be portable. You can purchase portable baskets and set them up at your home or take them with you to the park to play with your family. It’s great fun to have a basket of your own to play disc golf wherever you like.
There are a bunch of different brands out there, but I’ve found that the most convenient is this one by MVP. It’s available on Amazon which makes it convenient to buy, and it folds up into a nice carrying case for easy travel and storage.
I talk more about this in an article I dedicated to portable baskets which you can take a look at by clicking here.
In disc golf, beat in refers to a disc being worn in. As you throw the disc over and over, it may hit rocks, dirt, trees, concrete and other obstacles that, over time, contribute to the disc being worn down, or beaten in. This accumulation of damage slowly changes the way the disc flies until eventually it will have a completely different flight path than it had when it was brand new.
Many players love their beat in discs. The fact that they’re beat in means the player has played with the disc for a long time and knows exactly how it flies. They know what to do to the disc to make it perform the way they want and they trust that it will fly how they expect. This is a valuable tool to keep in any disc golf bag.
Scoring a perfect game is very rare. The below video is of a perfect game played by professional disc golfer Paul McBeth. Shooting a perfect game is also called a perfect round, or shooting 18 down, referring to scoring 18 under par.
A bogey is one shot over par on a given hole. Unlike birdies, eagles and aces, all of which count for specific strokes below par, all shots over par are bogeys. For instance, if I were to shoot two shots over par, I’ve just scored a double bogey. Three shots over par is a triple bogey. And so on.
Every disc golfer has a their favorite disc brands, and each brand offers a slightly different assortment of discs. Some of the top disc golf brands are as follows:
- Dynamic Discs
- Latitude 64
Cage is another term for the target you throw at when playing disc golf. While “target” is the official term according to the PDGA rulebook, the terms “basket“, and sometimes “cage”, are far more commonly used on the course.
A can topper is a small disc made of plastic that clips onto the top of a standard 12 oz. aluminum can. Also called “snap caps”, they are a nice thing to have as they keep dirt and debris out of your drink as you play. In disc golf, can toppers serve a dual purpose as most disc golf related can toppers are also mini markers which can be used in play.
Related: Mini Marker
The drive is the first throw on a given hole, and is typically thrown from a tee pad. This is also called teeing off. The goal of a drive is to place your disc as close to the basket as possible, or if the basket is out of reach, to place your disc in the best possible position to make your disc in the basket with the least amount of strokes.
You want your drive to be a great shot as it sets up the hole for success or failure. A great drive will give you the best chance at a great score for the hole, while a bad drive can easily put you behind the competition.
Some would say that the drive is the most important shot of the hole. Many things come into play, such as disc selection, power, distance, accuracy, etc. All of which contribute to the success or failure of your drive, and ultimately the hole. After all, you can’t score a great birdie putt if you don’t have the great drive that gets you close enough to the basket.
For more information on how to throw a great drive, there are some really good tips in both of these articles that will help:
- How Far Do The Pros Throw? (With Tips To Help You Throw Like They Do!)
- How Scoring Works in Disc Golf – A Basic Guide for Beginners
I wrote an entire article on how scoring works on my blog, which you can take a look at here for some more information.
Fade in disc golf is the last curve in a discs flight path. When looking at flight charts, you’ll notice that most discs have a slight or pronounced curve that finishes the flight path. This is called the fade and is valued with a fade rating.
Flat refers to a disc flying flat or level to the ground. Flat can also be used when talking about an angle of release.
Flex is used to describe a change in the angle of a disc from anhyzer to hyzer. One might say a disc flipped anhyzer, then flexed back to hyzer.
A flex shot is a backhand shot performed by throwing an overstable disc with an anhyzer angle of release. When throwing a flex shot RHBH, the disc will fly left to right because of the anhyzer release angle, then the overstability of the disc will draw it back to the left.
The flex shot has a long flight path and is used to throw for greater distance than a normal flat shot. This is a very common type of throw for both advanced and professional players.
For recommendations on which disc to use for a flex shot, check out this article on overstable discs from our blog.
Also, while doing research on flex shots, I found this video to be extremely helpful:
The term flippy, or flippiness describes the stability of a disc and more specifically the tendency of the disc to turnover or flip over when you throw it. This usually applies to understable or very beat in discs.
Footfall in disc golf is a casual term for a stance violation.
Related: Stance Violation
A forehand throw in disc golf is a throw made with the disc out to the side of the body and finishing across the front of the body. Also called sidearm, forehand shots are a very common type of shot in disc golf.
The below is a nice quick instructional video from Paul McBeth demonstrating how he throws the forehand shot.
The term frisbee golf is often incorrectly used to describe the sport of disc golf. Disc golf, however, doesn’t use frisbees. A frisbee is a flying disc toy by the Wham-O company that is also used in the sport of ultimate frisbee. The discs used in disc golf are completely different and designed specifically for disc golf, and so the term frisbee golf isn’t appropriate. The term disc golf should be used instead.
Some beginners to the game of disc golf ask whether or not a traditional Wham-O frisbee can be used to play disc golf. The short answer is no, you should not use a frisbee to play disc golf. For more on that topic, you can read an article I wrote about playing disc golf with a regular frisbee by clicking here.
Glide in disc golf is the ability of a disc to retain loft during flight. There are glide ratings listed on most discs. Discs with high glide ratings tend to fly further and are a good option for beginners looking to gain more distance. Discs with lower glide ratings tend to be more accurate.
Hyzer is an angle of release. With a hyzer throw, the disc should leave your hand with the furthest edge tilted slightly downwards and away from you. This forces the disc to fly even more right to left than it would if thrown flat when throwing RHBH (or left to right when throwing LHBH.)
Using a hyzer release is a great way to change the normal flight path of a disc, which is great for getting around obstacles in the course like trees, tall bushes, water and OB lines, or to get around sharp turns in the course. You can also use a hyzer release to perform more advanced shots like the hyzer flip.
An understable disc thrown on a hyzer will likely flip up to flat and turn over slightly, while and overstable disc thrown on a hyzer should fade hard which often times, can cause the disc to skip quite heavily when thrown lower to the ground. Throwing a high hyzer is a great way to get around a sharp bend in clump of trees on the course.
The hyzer flip is a type of disc golf shot performed by throwing an understable disc with a hyzer angle of release. The disc should flip up to flat and turn over slightly before fading back to finish. The hyzer flip is a great shot to use in the woods and, if performed correctly, should increase your drive distance.
Eric Oakley and Dynamic Discs put out a great video describing the hyzer flip shot which I will post below for you to watch.
The jump putt is a putting style used to add distance to your normal putting style and is only allowed outside of the circle. The jump putt is performed by jumping towards to basket, past your lie, as you throw. It’s important that the player keep their front foot balanced and in contact with your marker until after the disc has left the player’s hand. Also, the back foot of the player’s putting stance, which moves past your lie as the player jumps, cannot touch the ground before the disc leaves the player’s hand.
Jump putting is a legal maneuver, but there are strict rules in the PDGA rulebook that must be follow:
802.04 Throwing from a Stance (rules B-D)
B. When the disc is released, a player must:
- Have at least one supporting point that is in contact with the lie; and,
- Have no supporting point in contact with the marker disc or any object (including the playing surface) closer to the target than the rear edge of the marker disc; and,
- Have all supporting points in-bounds.
D. Putting: Any throw from within 10 meters of the target, as measured from the rear of the marker disc to the base of the target, is a putt. Supporting point contact closer to the target than the rear edge of the marker disc after the disc has been released is a stance violation. The player must demonstrate full control of balance before advancing toward the target.
Danny Lindahl has a useful video showing how to jump putt. I’ll link it below as a reference.
Laying up in disc golf is when you aim for your disc to land at the base of the basket rather than inside the basket itself. This generally comes into play when putting at a great distance. It’s advantageous to lay up and have an easy second putt, rather than miss long and have a chance to miss again.
In disc golf, the lie is where the disc lands and is where the player must then take their stance in order to throw their next shot, assuming the shot remained in play.
Mando is short for mandatory and is a typically a tree or other obstacle that the throw must be to one side of. A mandatory’s purpose is to restrict the path a disc may take to the basket. Often times, the mandatory will block off a much easier path to the basket, making the hole more difficult for players.
If a throw is made on the wrong side of the mando, a penalty stroke is take and the disc is thrown from the designated drop zone for the mando. If there is no designated drop zone, the throw is thrown again from the previous lie.
Mid range discs are designed for accuracy and control for a wide variety of shots, which give them great flexibility and makes them an effective choice for many different situations. I’ve found mids to be the go-to choice for tunnel shots and hitting gaps. Anytime shot placement at medium distance is crucial, I reach for a midrange disc.
My favorite midrange, as well as one of the most popular discs in the world, is the Buzz by Discraft. You can find out more information about the Buzz and other great discs on my recommended discs page by clicking right here.
A mini marker is a miniature disc which may be used to mark your lie by placing the mini marker directly in front of and touching your thrown disc. Mini markers can be used after every throw, but are typically only used when close to the basket and putting.
All mini markers must comply with PDGA standards and are made by all the major disc golf brands. Some mini markers are even made to replicate popular throwing discs, so in some cases you could have a mini version of your favorite disc.
Some mini markers also double and can toppers which have become a popular accessory for disc golfers everywhere.
Nose down in disc golf refers to the angle of the flight of a disc being level to the trajectory of the throw. Which essentially means the disc is thrown flat.
Nose down doesn’t always mean level to the ground. Rather, the disc should be level to the plane on which it’s thrown. Throwing nose down reduces drag (wind resistance) on the disc, resulting in more distance.
Two good ways to make sure you are throwing nose down are to keep your reach back high, and be sure to transfer your weight to your front foot when you throw.
Danny Lindahl has a great video on nose down if you’d like some more information.
Nose up in disc golf refers to the angle of the front, or nose, of the disc being tilted upwards as it’s released. A disc thrown nose up will have greater drag (wind resistance) as more air is exposed to the bottom of the disc, which causes the disc to lose spin, momentum and distance.
OB / Out-of-Bounds
OB or Out-of-Bounds refers to the areas outside of normal play on a disc golf hole or course. If a disc is thrown OB, a penalty stroke is awarded and the player must then play from a designated drop zone. If there is no designated drop zone, the player must throw again from the previous lie.
For example, let’s look at the Innova Destroyer. This disc has a turn rating of -1 and a fade rating of 3. When we add these two numbers together, we get 2, which is a positive number, meaning the Destroyer is an avertable disc. You can perform this calculation for yourself on your own discs to find out exactly how overstable or understable they are.
Keep in mind that age and wear will change the stability of the disc, as well as slight differences in the molds. For example, I recently picked up a brand new Innova Krait, which is meant to be a very stable disc, but for whatever reason this specific Krait has a very overstable flight path.
For recommendations and a more in depth overview of the best overstable discs, you can read an article I wrote about them here.
Par is the expected number of throws it should take to complete a hole. Adding up par for each hole of a given course gives you the par for that course.
Scoring in disc golf is scored in negative and positive strokes where shooting par would put you at a zero score, shooting over par gives you positive points, and shooting under par gives you negative points. You should aim to score at or below par for a good score.
The power pocket is the U shape your arm makes just before the release of the disc. You can think of this as the moment just before a whip cracks or a towel snaps and is the moment of the highest tension in your throw. This is where your power comes from. The better the power pocket, the farther the disc will fly.
The power pocket was coined by Jason at Heavy Disc and he has a way of explaining the form so I’ll leave a link here to his website.
Danny Lindahl from Dynamic Discs also talks about the power pocket in his How to fix Upper Body Timing! video. The power pocket portion is at 2:10.
Push putting is a putting style in disc golf that is more of a toss than a throw. Push putts have low spin and more height as they travel in an arch. This makes them more susceptible to wind and lowers the distance they can be thrown, but does increase accuracy over spin putting.
The guys over at Dynamic Discs put together a great instructional video on the different types of putting, which I will place below for you to check out.
The roller is a type of anhyzer throw that causes the disc to roll on the ground instead of fly through the air. When thrown correctly, the roller will fly out of the hand on a heavy anhyzer angle, causing the dis to turn over onto it’s side, hit the ground, and keep going for a fair amount of distance.
A roller might be the right shot for you if you find yourself in a position where there is a low ceiling and the ground is the only open path to the basket.
Eric Oakley and Dynamic Discs have put together a great video on rollers which I will post here for more information and a how-to:
Rounding happens when your body comes between your target and the disc. The disc then has to travel around your body as you throw, which creates more of a curved trajectory, rather than a straight one. This is rounding.
Rounding causes all kinds of bad things to happen. Most negatively affecting speed, distance and accuracy. Pretty important stuff in disc golf. I’ve linked a video below by Danny Lindahl who does a great job talking about rounding and how to work on your form to fix it.
The run up in disc golf is the form, and more specifically, the footwork used when driving off the tee. Good footwork is essential to a great drive and can play a big role in the power, speed and accuracy of the throw. Most players use a popular run up routine called the X Step as their run up.
Scrambling is your recovery after a bad shot. When you find yourself in a bad lie in disc golf, you now need to scramble to get out of it. This sometimes means you need to get creative or throw with extra precision to get yourself back into a good spot.
Danny Lindahl has a great instructional video on scrambling showing a bunch of different types of shots you can use while scrambling.
Sidearm in disc golf is another term for the forehand throwing style. A sidearm (or forehand) throw in disc golf is a throw made with the disc out to the side of the body and finishing across the front of the body. This is a very common type of shot in disc golf.
A skip shot is a shot thrown low with a lot of spin. The spin is what allows the disc to skip of the ground without stopping while keeping it low will give you the angle you need to keep if from digging into the ground.
Skip shots are great for getting around obstacles, especially if there’s a low ceiling. They work best when there’s open dirt areas or short grass, but not so well if there’s a lot of ground cover or bushes in your path.
Eric Oakley has a great video demonstrating skip shots that I will link here for you.
A spike hyzer in disc golf is a shot thrown very high at an extreme hyzer angle of release, which is meant to spike down into the ground and stop right where it lands without skipping or rolling. It’s a great shot for shooting over trees or other obstacles when you don’t want the disc to fade a long ways.
Spin putting is when you putt more spin on the putter as you release it. Spin putting is great for inside and outside the circle and is a better type of putt for windy conditions, but can be a bit harder to aim. A miss with a spin putt will tend to be a long miss because the spin gives the disc more glide.
Stability in disc golf is the description of a discs flight path. There are three classifications of disc stability: Understable, Stable and Overstable.
Understable discs have more turn than fade and are more susceptible to turnover. Stable discs generally fly fairly straight and flat. And Overstable discs typically have more fade than turn and are very resistant to turnover.
Stable discs are discs that tend to stay flat when thrown flat. They typically don’t turn much left or right, or when they do, they usually fade back on their original line and most will finish with a small amount of fade if any at all.
The stance of a player when throwing is clearly regulated by 802.07 of the PDGA rulebook. Whenever these rules are broken, there is a stance violation. The penalty for committing a stance violation is one stroke.
- (A) If the lie has been marked by a marker disc, then when the disc is released, the player must:
- Have at least one supporting point that is in contact with the lie; and,
- Have no supporting point closer to the target than the rear edge of the marker disc; and,
- Have all supporting points in-bounds.
- (B) A drop zone is played as a teeing area. See 802.04.B.
- (C) A player who violates 802.07.A or 802.07.B has committed a stance violation and receives one penalty throw.
The tee pad in disc golf is typically a concrete pad used when driving to begin a hole. Most tee pads are made of concrete, but some are made of turf or rubber. In some cases, a preexisting element of the course can be used as a tee pad. An example of this would be a concrete pathway.
In disc golf, the tee off (or the drive) is the first throw of a given hole, which is typically thrown from a tee pad. Most players use a distance driver to tee off, but any disc may be used. The disc selection will vary depending on hole length and the player’s skill.
Teeing off, also called driving, is one of the most important aspects of disc golf. A great drive will put you in a great position to score well on the hole, which reflects well on your overall score. All players should work on their driving ability in order to consistently drive well.
In disc golf, the circle refers to a 10 meter radius around the basket. Any shot made from inside the circle is considered a putt and is restricted in the sense that the player is not allowed to advanced past the lie until the putt is complete. If outside the circle, the player is allowed to jump putt.
A thumber in disc golf is an overhand shot, similar in form to throwing a baseball. When throwing, the thumb is placed on the bottom rim of the disc with the fingers on the top plate. Thrown right handed, the thumber will barrel roll to the left, then finish right. Expect to throw the thumber around 150 feet to 250 feet at the amateur to intermediate levels.
The tomahawk in disc golf is an overhand shot, similar to throwing a baseball. When throwing, either the index finger or middle finger is placed on the inside rim of the bottom of the disc, with the thumb on the top plate. Thrown right handed, the tomahawk will barrel roll to the right and finish left. Expect to throw the tomahawk around 150 feet to 250 feet at the amateur to intermediate levels.
The turbo putt is a somewhat rare overhand putting style performed by placing the thumb on the bottom middle of the disc with the fingers on the outside rim of the disc for support. The disc is then thrown overhand with a flicking motion almost as if waving.
It’s a great putt for long distances and putting when there may be an obstacle in your way preventing you from spin putting or push putting. An example of an opportunity to turbo putt would be if your lie is directly behind a tall bush, you could turbo putt over the bush.
The below is a good example of a turbo putt.
Turn in disc golf refers to a discs tendency to turn over or bank to the right (when throwing RHBH) in the initial part of the flight. This is identified by the turn rating found on most discs. Higher turn ratings typically mean the disc is understable.
Turnover refers to a disc that banks heavily to one side or the other in the initial phase of flight. This usually happens when a disc is thrown with enough speed to overpower it’s ability to fly stable, resulting in turnover.
When done intentionally, this is called a turnover shot, and can be used to fly around bends in the course, or obstacles. Unintentionally, such as when a player overpowers an understable disc by accident, the disc often doesn’t have the height or stability to come out of the turn, which results in the disc crashing to the ground very early in it’s flight.
Understable discs have more turn than fade and will turn over more easily than overstable discs. This means that at higher speeds, the turn of the disc is more pronounce, and may turn over completely if thrown too fast.
The hyzer flip shot takes advantage of this understability by releasing the understable disc on a hyzer angle and trusting that the disc will flip up to flat and then past flat to bank right in the turn then finish left (when throwing RHBH). This shot takes advantage of the understable quality of the disc to extend the flight path and gain more distance.
The X Step is a specific style of run up that most disc golf players use to increase the power, speed and accuracy of a disc golf throw. The X Step is mostly used when driving off the tee pad, but can also be used elsewhere on the course.
Danny Lindahl has a great video on the X Step which I will link below for you.