Some discs in disc golf can be considered illegal to use in official tournament play. But, what discs are okay to use, and what is an illegal disc?
If you’re playing for fun, there are no such things as an illegal disc. But, for players in a sanctioned PDGA tournament, the rules can be more strict. Better safe than sorry while getting disqualified for an illegal disc.
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Here is What Makes a Disc Illegal in Disc Golf
In a PDGA sanctioned disc golf event, there are several ways that a disc can be considered illegal. These rules include any disc with modifications after production, a disc that is cracked or has a hole, any disc not identifiably marked, or even a disc that is questioned by another player or an Offical.
In this post, I’ll expand on the guidelines for an illegal disc and how you can tell whether your disc is okay to use in a PDGA sanctioned event.
Can You Use Any Disc for Disc Golf?
You can play disc golf with any disc you choose or have available to you.
If you’re a casual player who just wants to get out on the weekend to play a round on the course, it doesn’t matter what disc you use.
The difference is when you’ve graduated from just playing for fun, and starting to play competitively. Almost every competitive tournament and disc golf event will be sanctioned by the PDGA. Which means that their rules for the game are in effect.
The PDGA is the governing body for official disc golf competitions and tournaments. PDGA stands for Professional Disc Golf Association. The PDGA is a membership-based organization that accommodates both amateurs and pros.
Rules and guidelines aren’t necessarily a bad thing either. The PDGA rules are well known and followed by everyone so there are no misunderstandings as to what and who the official rules apply to.
The PDGA has some guidelines when it comes to discs used during their sanctioned competitions. Knowing what makes a disc legal and illegal can be the difference between penalties and even disqualification.
PDGA Illegal Discs
The PDGA has guidelines on what makes a disc legal and illegal for competition. According to the PDGA, “A player who throws an illegal disc during play receives two penalty throws. A player who repeatedly throws an illegal disc may be subject to disqualification.”
It can be easy to find yourself on the wrong side of the rules if you don’t know what makes a disc illegal. Some of the guidelines aren’t as obvious as others. The PDGA must approve of a disc before it can be used in competition.
Why Does it Matter If a Disc is PDGA Approved?
The PDGA approves discs used based on set specifications that disc manufacturers follow. A manufacturer that wants to sell their discs with the intention of them being used in competition must follow these specifications.
The main reason for the PDGA setting manufacture specifications is to ensure a uniform disc that is also safe for people to use.
The disc materials used, thickness, weight, rim width, and sharpness all affect the safety of the disc when thrown.
An uncontrollable disc that is thin and stiff can create an unsafe situation if it is thrown and hits someone or something.
PDGA disc specs also create a level playing field for every player. It ensures that no single player can modify their disc to give an unfair advantage during competitive play.
5 Rules That Can Make a Disc Illegal
Knowing every detail of what makes a disc illegal for play during a PDGA event can be confusing. Below are the 5 most common rules to know for any disc that has to meet PDGA technical standards for play.
However, if you have a disc that is stamped as PDGA approved, you probably won’t need to worry.
It’s worth noting some exceptions to the rules for a legal disc. Wear and tear on a disc from regular play is not considered to be a modification, along with moderate sanding to the disc to smooth out wear and tear.
Below are 5 rules to know in case you are ever confronted with a possible illegal disc, or the disc you have is called into question.
1. Max Weight of the Disc
The PDGA includes guidelines on the max weight of any disc that is used in competitive play. You might be used to or prefer a disc that is at max weight.
But for a PDGA sanctioned tournament, the max weight will be regulated.
According to the PDGA technical standards, a disc must not exceed a max weight of 200g. There are also restrictions for the max weight of a disc, depending on the category and competition style.
A PDGA-sanctioned event might include discs in the 150 Class. In this event, all discs must have a measured weight of 150g or less to be used.
2. Etching, Carving, or Engraving on the Disc
The PDGA considers any modifications to the disc after production to be illegal. This can mean any etching, carving, or engraving on a disc.
Before personalizing or customizing your disc in this type of manner, be sure you’re not running afoul of these standards. Especially if you want to use that disc for competitive play.
Other modifications might include paint or stickers added to the disc. These modifications are said to add a detectable thickness to the disc.
Some players will also sand their discs to smooth out wear and tear from regular play. Be careful not to excessively sand on the disc though. This can be considered a modification that can make the disc illegal.
3. A Disc With a Crack or a Hole
From time to time, you might damage, split, or crack your favorite disc during the normal course of play. Even if it was unintentional or it happened during normal play, this can make the disc illegal for continued play.
A crack or a hole in the disc can affect the flight characteristics of the disc, which then will make it illegal. I’ll talk more about altering the flight characteristics of the disc in the next rule.
4. Modifications to the Disc That Alter Flight Characteristics
Any alterations or modifications to the disc that will customize it to the point where the original flight characteristics of the disc have changed can make the disc illegal.
The PDGA standards are put in place to level the playing field during competitive play so individual players can’t modify a disc to perform differently when thrown.
If other players aren’t using similar discs it skews the advantage to the player with the modified disc.
This means the competition will be based less on the skill of the player, and more on who can modify their disc to fly a certain way.
PDGA technical standards are pretty specific on the measurements and weights of a disc, depending on the class. Here are the technical standards that are used to approve a disc for play.
5. A Player or Official Questions the Disc
Even if your disc has the PDGA stamp of approval, if another player questions that disc during play, the disc becomes illegal until it’s approved by the Director.
This rule seems like it could easily be abused by another player. Especially because any disc is thrown that is considered illegal will result in two penalty throws or even disqualification. However, the rule is spelled out in the PDGA section 813.01 for illegal discs.
If another player or Official has called your disc into question, get it re-approved by the Director before throwing it again.
How to Tell if a Disc is PDGA Approved?
A disc that is PDGA approved will almost always have a stamp or writing that says “PDGA Approved” on it.
Any disc manufacturer that went through and paid for the official approval process with the PDGA will want to display right on the disc that it is approved by the PDGA for competitive play. So, the approval will normally be fairly easy to spot.
If you have a disc, but still aren’t sure whether or not it’s PDGA approved, there is a list of approved discs on the PDGA website that you can double-check.
How Many Discs Are You Allowed in Disc Golf?
You can use as many discs as you want without limitation when playing disc golf. Most serious players will carry anywhere from 15-20 discs that they use regularly.
Although, they might carry even more in their bag that is used less frequently.
PDGA Disc Limit
During competitive play or tournament play, the PDGA doesn’t have a limit on the number of discs a player can carry, as long as the discs are approved by the PDGA for use.
Final Thoughts | What Discs Are Illegal in Disc Golf?
If you’re relatively new to disc golf and competitive play, you might have not even realized that there were rules in place that can make a disc illegal or legal.
As usual, the devil is in the details. Knowing the rules as a newer player can help you to avoid penalties and confusion during a tournament. Don’t get caught unknowingly with an illegal disc! Know the rules and play on.