What is a Courtesy Violation in Disc Golf? (And Etiquette Rules)

Many sports have unwritten rules that dictate the way players should act when playing the game. Disc golf is a rare sport that will blend etiquette rules into normal rules of play. I started to wonder what courtesy rules would be enforced during play.

I’ll explain what makes a courtesy violation, and what are some other unwritten rules of etiquette for disc golf that every player should follow.

Here is What a Courtesy Violation is in Disc Golf

A courtesy violation in disc golf is an infraction committed by a player for disregarding or ignoring a courtesy rule dictating sportsmanship or etiquette. A courtesy violation is preceded by a courtesy warning. Each courtesy violation in the same round will result in one penalty throw.

In this article, I’ll cover what some courtesy violations are and how they are called during play. I’ll also explain disc golf’s unwritten rules for etiquette.

People fist bumping

What is a Courtesy Warning in Disc Golf?

A courtesy warning is what precedes a courtesy violation. The affected person or an official can issue or confirm a courtesy violation and issue the warning to another player.

After repeated violations within the same round will result in a one-throw penalty. If a player continues to repeat courtesy violations, they can even be disqualified by the Director.

11 Basic Courtesy and Etiquette Rules For Disc Golf

Disc golf has stated courtesy violations within the PDGA rulebook that spell out offenses that can result in a courtesy violation.

But, other etiquette rules aren’t expressly written within the rules but are still considered to be good etiquette and should be followed the same as what a courtesy violation would be.

Good etiquette, sportsmanship, and general common courtesy are all things that you should play with no matter what the sport.

Disc golf is no different than any other sport in this regard, but some courtesy and etiquette rules are specific to disc golf.

Even if you never intended to violate any rules, and didn’t know any better. A more experienced player or group will know these rules and probably let you know about them.

Below are the 11 courtesy and etiquette rules to know for playing disc golf.

1. Display Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship is not limited to just disc golf. If you’ve played any sport, displaying sportsmanship has probably been taught at one point or another.

In disc golf, this can mean staying calm, even when you’re not playing your best that day. Cussing loudly, yelling in anger, hitting or kicking objects are all ways of displaying crap sportsmanship. Plus, you’ll look like a fool.

Everyone gets angry with themselves at some point or another, but you need to know where that line is and how to still be a good sport.

Unsportsmanlike conduct can be considered a courtesy violation in extreme circumstances.

2. Don’t Litter on the Course

Most courses that you’ll play on are free to the public and paid for by local municipalities or governments.

The course is meant to be enjoyed by all, and we all know that one bad apple can ruin things for everyone.

Be sure to respect the course when you’re playing your rounds. This can mean cleaning up any trash, cans, alcohol, or food during the round.

During tournament play, littering can be considered a courtesy violation.

3. Let the Quicker Group Play Through

When you’re playing a casual round, if there is a group behind yours that is catching up and eventually waiting on you to finish holes, it is generally considered good etiquette to let that group play through the hole.

This is different for tournament play, the group behind yours will still have to wait their turn.

4. Help to Find a Lost Disc

If someone in your group has lost a disc from a bad throw into the rough, go ahead and help that person look for the disc.

Chances are that if you were to lose your disc, you’d want as many people to help you look too. Plus, the more people looking for the disc, the faster it can be found.

Refusing to look for a lost disc can be considered a courtesy violation.

5. Don’t Throw Out of Order

In disc golf, the player whose disc is the furthest away always throws first. All other players should stop and wait behind that player until they’ve thrown.

It’s considered bad etiquette to walk ahead to your disc before the person behind you has thrown it.

The PDGA even recognizes this as a courtesy violation. The same is also true for teeing off. The person with the lowest score on the previous hole will throw first.

6. Be Respectful When Others Are Throwing

When other players are throwing or putting, they want to be concentrating only on their throw. If others in your group are walking around or talking during a throw it can be pretty distracting.

If someone is throwing, it’s best to stop what you’re doing and wait until they’ve completed their throw.

7. Return Any Lost Discs That Are Found

Not only is it true that you should help to look for lost discs thrown by others in your group, but you should also retrieve discs you find that are not from your group.

More than likely, someone else lost their disc and wasn’t able to find it. The best thing to do is to take it back to the clubhouse if there is one or alert any groups that commonly play the course to find the owner.

Players will even sometimes write their contact information on the disc. If you find a lost disc and there is contact information written on the disc, go ahead and call or email to find its owner.

8. Silence Your Cellphone

It can be hard to leave all technology behind, even when you’re playing disc golf.

There are apps that help with keeping score, checking the weather, emergencies, or other reasons why you might need a cellphone on the course.

The best thing to do if carrying your cellphone is to silence the phone when playing. This way you’ll avoid an ill-timed phone call that can distract others when they’re about to sink a long putt.

9. Dogs Need to Follow Rules Too

You might be surprised that there are a lot of people who bring their dogs to the course when they’re playing.

Generally, there is nothing wrong with this, but you should know if your dog is well-behaved enough to be on the disc golf course.

Chasing and picking up discs, excessive barking, or aggressive behavior should all be a no-go for a dog on a disc golf course.

If you’re considering bringing your dog along for a round of disc golf, see my full guide here for all the must-know rules and etiquette when it comes to dogs.

10. Limit Group Size

If you are playing with a group that is larger than 4-6 people, it’s better to split the group to keep things moving quickly.

A large group will slow down play for everyone behind and only make every group play through. Try to keep group sizes to no more than 6 people at maximum.

11. Don’t Skip Holes

Skipping holes can become a problem if you’ve skipped in front of another group and they start to catch up to your group. Or worse yet, if they now have to wait on you to play through.

If you’re the only group on the course, or if skipping a hole won’t inconvenience any other player or group, this can be OK at times.

Whenever in doubt, always be respectful of others already playing on the course, and if you think that it might inconvenience another player or group, it’s better to not skip any holes.

When a Disc Might Hit a Player What Should You Yell?

In disc golf, yelling”fore” to alert people in the area of an errant throw is acceptable and mostly expected in this situation. Anyone within earshot will immediately know that they could be in the way of a disc headed their way.

Do You Yell Fore in Disc Golf?

Just like in regular ball golf, yelling fore is the best and most widely known way to alert other people that they could be in harm’s way.

The term “fore” translates to “head’s up” or “watch out”. In ball golf, spotters were called forecaddies, and it was their job to spot hit balls for the players.

Since the forecaddie spent their time further downrange, it was common to yell “forecaddie” to alert them they could be in the path of the ball.

This was later shortened to just “fore” and that is where the term comes from that we use today.

Summary | What is a Courtesy Violation in Disc Golf?

Courtesy violations and general etiquette are the same things. Courtesy violations as written in the PDGA rules can be interpreted to mean many different things.

Even though something is not expressly written in the rules as a courtesy violation, it can be confirmed by an Offical to be a violation.

It’s better to be aware and know specific and general courtesy and etiquette rules for disc golf as a beginner.


Hi, my name is Marty. Sporting Disc is dedicated to delivering actionable tips and information when it comes to enjoying any disc sport. Whether it's disc golf, ultimate frisbee, or any other disc sport, I want to help anyone get out there and take their game further.

Recent Posts