How to Play Disc Golf in the Woods: 7 Tips To Play Through Trees

Playing disc golf in a wide-open course is a great way for a beginner to learn. But, nothing makes me more stressed than trying to navigate my way through a course that’s mostly through the woods.

Playing disc golf in the woods can require a variety of different throws, shots, and skills as opposed to throwing down an open fairway. I’ll cover the 7 most important tips for playing disc golf in the woods.

Here is How to Play Disc Golf in the Woods

To play disc golf in the woods a player will need to use throws that avoid hitting trees and discs like putters and midrange with a rounded nose that minimize ricocheting further into the woods. Examples of throws include tunnel shots, throwing low backhand, and forehand shots for tighter lines.

In this article, I’ll describe 7 tips and techniques you’ll need to know for playing a wooded disc golf course.

A path leading into the woods

How Do You Not Hit a Tree in Disc Golf?

If you’re either in a wooded area or playing on a disc golf course full of trees it’s going to be difficult to never hit a tree.

The fact of the matter is that you’ll probably end up eventually hitting a tree no matter how well you’re playing.

The key to not hitting a tree in disc golf is to use low straight shots that fly for shorter distances.

The reason this is effective is that by throwing lower you can avoid hitting branches and if you do happen to hit a tree, the disc won’t ricochet away as far as it would if it was thrown higher and hit the tree.

Secondly, keeping your throws shorter is more helpful to navigate a wooded course or hole without hitting as many trees.

If you’re trying to avoid one set of trees, you’re probably going to hit another set of trees further down the course.

Keeping shots low and slow is the best way to not hit a tree in disc golf.

7 Tips For Playing Disc Golf in a Wooded Area

When you’re faced with playing a course with several holes in a wooded area, or even an entire course that winds through trees and woods, you’re going to have to adjust the way you normally play.

Below are the 7 best tips and techniques you can use to successfully play disc golf in the woods.

1. Use a Tunnel Shot

Most important for playing disc golf in the woods is to be able to throw the disc very straight on a tight line down a fairway.

It’s called a tunnel shot is pretty self-explanatory. You’re throwing the disc as straight as possible down a tight corridor of trees on either side of the fairway.

Use a disc that flies straight and at a lower speed, so that you won’t need a ton of power to make it fly right.

2. Throw Low to the Ground

Throwing low to the ground will help when playing disc golf in the woods. This is because if you happen to hit a tree, the disc has less distance to fall than if it hits a tree higher up in the air.

Imagine throwing your disc and hitting a tree 15 feet in the air. Not only is hitting the tree going to send the disc on an unintended path, but it will also fall to the ground. This could potentially land you much further away from the fairway and target.

Now imagine hitting the same tree only your disc hits it at 4 feet. There is far less time and distance before the disc will hit the ground.

Throwing low means that you have a much better chance of saving extra strokes in case of a tree strike.

3. Play for Par

Playing in the woods, it’s much more important to throw for accuracy instead of distance.

It’s unlikely that on a hole with many trees you’ll be able to drive for much distance without hitting a tree and ending up with a more difficult shot.

This is where playing for par can work to your advantage. When you’re not trying to birdie every hole playing in the woods, you can more easily break down a hole into more manageable chunks.

For example, if there is a 275-foot hole and a par 3, could you drive 250 feet and birdie the hole?

Sure, but throw random trees in the way and the better play might be to throw 190 feet, take a safe approach and then toss in an easy putt for par.

4. Throw Putters and Midrange Discs

If you expect that you can always avoid hitting a tree in a wooded course, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Even very experienced players will eventually hit a tree now and then in this type of environment.

So, knowing that you’re probably going to hit a tree at some point, it’s best to try and mitigate the effects of hitting the tree in the first place.

Using putters and midrange discs instead of drivers is a great way to do this. A putter and midrange have a more rounded nose than a driver.

This means that if they hit a tree a putter or a midrange disc isn’t going to bounce or ricochet as far away as a driver would.

5. Learn to Use a Forehand Throw

You’re going to need to be able to throw a forehand as well as your backhand to play holes that are surrounded by woods.

On a wooded hole, the trees are usually lining either side of the fairway, so you’ll need to be able to fade and turn the disc to get in position for a clean putt.

If you haven’t already, learn to throw a forehand before tacking a disc golf course in the woods.

6. Don’t Throw Hard

Throwing a high-speed disc means that you’re going to need to put extra power behind each throw to ensure that the disc does what you want it to do.

But, playing disc golf in the woods puts more of an emphasis on accuracy and control over distance and power.

Using a disc with a lower speed and not throwing as hard means that you will be able to focus more on the accuracy of each shot instead of the total distance.

7. Use a Variety of Shots

Utility shots might not be utilized as much on a normal disc golf course. Playing disc golf in the woods though will require you to use these more specialized and technical throws.

For example, a thumber and a tomahawk can be very useful for throwing the disc more vertically for slicing through trees, while avoiding direct impact.

Can You Lean on a Tree in Disc Golf?

It’s within the rules to lean on a tree in disc golf when throwing from your lie. The caveat here is to remain behind the front of your lie.

If you lean on a tree and your body is in front of the front of your lie this would be a stance violation.

If you’re unfamiliar with the rules for a lie in the fairway, it’s where the back edge of the disc marks where the front edge of the lie begins.

The lie uses an imaginary rectangle that measures 11.8″ x 7.8″ (or 30cm x 20cm).

As long as the tree you plan to lean on is not in front of the lie and you can keep at least one supporting point in contact with the lie at the point of release.

What Happens if a Disc is Lost in the Woods?

The chances of a disc being lost are much higher when playing in the woods. So, knowing the rules for a lost disc is important especially if you’re in tournament play.

Here is a summary of PDGA Rule 805.03 for a lost disc during play:

The disc is not declared lost until the player who threw the disc has searched the last known area of the disc for 3 minutes.

The 3 minute search time will begin once the player has entered the area where the disc was believed to have landed.

What Happens if a Disc Gets Stuck in a Tree?

If your disc is stuck in a tree there are times when it can affect the way you score that hole. There is a rule called the 2-meter rule that assigns a one-throw penalty.

What is the 2 Meter Rule?

The two-meter rule is not always enforced at every course. What the two-meter rule means is that when a disc is stuck in an object two meters or more above the ground, you’ll have to take a one-throw penalty on the hole.

Final Thoughts | How to Play Disc Golf in the Woods

Playing disc golf in the woods can be both fun and very frustrating. The key to playing well in the woods is to focus on short shots with tighter control.

If you play smart, you can beat other players who are constantly trying to bite off huge chunks of each hole and play for birdie.

Knowing the right strategy and tips for playing disc golf in the woods can give you the advantage you need for success.


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.

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