Think back to your childhood for a moment. Remember The Golden Rule? You know how it goes: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Well, this timeless mantra isn’t limited to the playground lessons of our youth – it’s also applicable to a wide array of environments, including the sport of disc golf.
While disc golf is a relatively lighthearted activity played by easygoing people, it comes with a certain level of etiquette. Whether you’re a novice or expert, it’s always valuable to freshen up on The Golden Rule of disc golf.
What is The Golden Rule of Disc Golf?
Basically, the Golden Rule of Disc Golf is to have respect and manners while you’re on the course and interacting with other players. Not only is it about treating other players how you’d like to be treated, but it’s also about respecting their property, the course, and the game as a whole.
The Golden Rule of disc golf is sort of an umbrella statement because it’s comprised of many “rules”, not a singular principle. In this article, we’ll explore the major ones in more detail. Let’s get to it!
Aretha Franklin thought respect was so important, she spelled it out. And disc golf is no different. Respecting other players is the fundamental commandment of the sport, and it manifests in various forms, starting with having a good attitude. Positivity is infectious and can make or break a day on the course.
If you’re playing poorly, try keeping your anger in check for the sake of your game (research has repeatedly shown how anger negatively affects performance) and those of others. Take a few moments to breathe, rewrite the story you’re telling yourself to a positive one, and calmly rejoin the game.
On the flip side, if you’re playing really well and having the best game of your life, that’s great! But hey, don’t brag – it only cheapens the experience for everyone, including you. Another related piece of advice is to avoid trash-talking your opponents or discussing how they’re playing. Honor the notion that each player learns at their own pace (recall that you were a beginner once upon a time, too). You could offer motivational compliments, such as “Awesome throw” or “Way to go!”.
Here are more ways to demonstrate respect on the disc golf course:
Disc Golf Etiquette
- No talking or moving while others are throwing or putting. You should be completely stopped and behind the person throwing.
- Don’t play loud music, as it can be distracting to other groups. Playing music at a level only your group can hear is fine, as long as everyone in your posse agrees.
- Try not to take too much time. Let others play through if needed (meaning, graciously allow them to tee off before you/your group).
- Don’t walk in front of another person’s line of sight to the basket. This is just bad juju altogether.
- Wait for your turn to drive. The player with the lowest score on the previous hole drives first.
- Wait for your turn to putt. The player with the disc lying furthest from the basket goes first.
- Clear the basket. After you make a putt, remove your disc from the basket so the next player can putt with an empty basket.
- Offer advice before giving it. Sometimes, it’s easy to want to jump in and show someone a better way of throwing or putting, but maybe they like doing things their way. Or, they may simply not care to hear your two cents.
There are numerous ways to uphold The Golden Rule on the disc golf course, most of which are pretty common sense. We’ve discussed how to behave in our interactions with others. Now, we’ll explore ways to give some love to the land.
Care for the Course
Disc golf courses don’t just wake up in the morning looking great – it takes a significant amount of effort and funds to keep them maintained. Grounds crews mow the fairways, treat poisonous plants in high-traffic areas, haul away debris from course-side trashcans, and ensure the baskets, chains, and tee boxes are in good condition.
It takes time to do all these things, which is why it’s vital for each player to be responsible and mindful when on the course (and off the course, for that matter!). Most courses have boards that display the park rules, such as the hours of operation, prohibited items, and the general rules of conduct. It’s important to review and understand each of them, as policies often differ from one course to the next.
A small number of pay-to-play disc golf courses collect nominal fees per round, but the vast majority of people play on free courses located in public parks. Because disc golf is relatively inexpensive, it’s available for more people to pick up every single day. While this is an awesome factoid for the sport overall, more bodies on the course increases the potential for more litter. Pack out what you pack in, and leave no trace. Don’t litter, either. No one enjoys playing disc golf in garbage.
Being able to play free rounds of disc golf is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Give gratitude for the green space and the individuals who work hard to keep it playable for the public. Abide by the park rules, pay the fee if required, and respect the flora and fauna that call the park home (we are on their turf).
For the Love of the Game
“To play the game is good. To win is better. But to love the game is best of all.”
– Author Unknown
Disc golf is one of those sports that’s easy to become hooked on. It’s cheap, fun, and a great way to get in some exercise – which lends credence to why so many people fall in love with it. In addition to the ever-rising number of players and courses, the world of disc golf has continued growing in other aspects, such as disc golf production, gear upgrades, professional associations, even a Code of Ethics – all due to people’s passion for the game.
Generally speaking, the more we know about something, the deeper our connection is with it, and the more we respect and appreciate it. We learn by doing, watching, and asking questions. If you’re unsure of something, ask one of your friends during your walk between holes or research it online after your round. This not only illustrates a zeal for personal improvement, but also a desire for a better understanding of the sport in its entirety.
There are countless ways to show some love to this exciting sport. Here are a few examples:
Show Some Love
- Have a good, positive attitude. This is the bedrock of sportsmanship.
- Return lost discs to owners. People always love hearing that their beloved, long-lost disc was found (karma is no joke).
- Help others in your group find their discs by tracking the disc after its release. Physically look for the disc and point it out, if possible. Everyone digs a team player.
- Keep the course clean by picking up after yourself (and your group).
- Volunteer to improve a local course. There are many avenues to take here; contact your local disc golf organization or parks department to see how you can lend a hand.
- Teach someone how to play. Take a friend to a nearby course and explain the rules, scoring, techniques, etc. along the way.
- Donate money to a disc golf charity or fundraiser event, such as the Disc Golf Foundation, which seeks to grow the sport of disc golf through various collaborative partnerships and community involvement.
- Promote it. Post or write about disc golf on social media (hey, the more it’s put out there, the more eyes that see it).
Why is The Golden Rule Important?
Everyone can benefit from practicing better habits. Period. Some habits can be refined on the disc golf course, as the game provides ample opportunities for celebrating (getting a “Birdie” on a challenging hole), as well as identifying areas for improvement, such as learning to turn off negative self-talk. How we choose (yes, it’s a choice, not a knee-jerk reaction) to behave in either situation affects us internally and those around us…and not just on the disc golf course!
We can broaden this line of thinking beyond the clinking of chain baskets by applying it to other aspects of our lives (e.g., professional, family, interpersonal, etc.). When we’re able to understand another person’s perspective, and treat them like we want to be treated, that’s when we’re really able to learn about ourselves.
Check out these articles for more information about disc golf’s Golden Rule, as well as tips for beginners and reminders for avid players:
In essence, The Golden Rule of disc golf is about awareness, mindfulness, and a heaping dose of common sense. Be kind and respectful. Be positive and open. Be aware and helpful. Most importantly, be fun!