Playing my part and being an ambassador to the game

By Andre Fredrick — Rattling Chains Staff

The sport of disc golf has grown exponentially since I first started playing. There was a time when I could play my local nine-hole course and have it all to myself. Sure, I had to be cautious of joggers, cyclists and the like, but the fairways and greens were practically all mine.

Nowadays the same course is filled players. That has meant the way the game is played, whether it be slower play or a lack of etiquette.

I suppose it’s easy to forget that we were all new to the game once. Likewise, it’s easy to forget that the sport is growing on a daily basis, bringing newcomers to it in a way that it never has before. The growing pains that stem from this surge in popularity come in various forms. Foremost, it has brought the casual player in contact with the veteran player.

More families are discovering disc golf, which is helping the game grow, but puts more people on the course. (photo by Andre Fredrick)

Clashes arise over the protocol and etiquette of the game. Seasoned players often have unreasonably high expectations of the novice player. Sometimes, they are expected to have the same respect and reverence for the game that we have. We demand that they understand the many rules that govern the game, be they in the PDGA handbook or some otherwise unspoken rule.

The simple fact is the casual player can’t be expected to always know these things.

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A friendly reminder: Showing etiquette on the course

In the world of disc golf, many players are unfortunately not even aware of the “etiquette” concept.

I’d guess that many players have had no exposure to ball golf prior to discovering disc golf, and everything about our version of the sport is more casual. Most courses have no pro shops, no marshal, no tee times, and feel much more like what they are: a public park where people can come, go, and do as they please.

However, anyone familiar with ball golf knows that etiquette is a big part of the game. Golf is a self-officiated game, with no referees, umpires or the like to point out when a player has broken a rule or committed an infraction. But “golf etiquette” is specifically concerned with the unwritten rules that have less to do with the scoring part of the game and more to do with respect for the other players in your group and on the course.

According to Merriam-Webster, etiquette is defined as “the
conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by
authority to be observed in social or official life” In the ball-golf
world, this translates to a universally-understood group of social mores that all serious competitive or even learned recreational players observe.

The more laid-back nature of disc golf means that the rules of etiquette for our sport will differ accordingly. However, the reality that it’s still golf — a game that calls for intense focus to play well, mixed precariously with interactions with groups of people both familiar and unfamiliar — requires us act within unspoken but generally agreed-upon mores.

I personally enjoy a disc golf setting that simulates this aspect of ball golf as closely as possible, and if you’re reading this, odds are that you also treat your rounds of disc golf as more than just tossing plastic for a couple hours. If that is the case, please read my non-exhaustive compilation of disc golf etiquette guidelines and let me know what you think. Tell me if you agree or disagree, and if there is anything I overlooked, which I’m sure is the case.

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