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A Beginner’s Guide to Disc Golf Terminology

By Michelle Springett
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Article written by: Michelle Springett – DGPT Communications Coordinator

Welcome to the exciting world of disc golf! Some of the disc golf terminology may seem new to you and need clarification if you’re new to the sport. To help you quickly get up to speed, we’ve compiled a list of essential terms you’ll likely hear in or around the sport, grouped by category for easy navigation.

Let’s Jump Right into some important Disc Golf Terminology!

Game Basics

A Beginners Guide to Disc Golf Terminology

Holyn Hadley throwing backhand from the tee at the 2022 Preserve Championship. DGPT.com/Kevin

Tee: This is where a disc golf hole begins and is essential disc golf terminology to know. Similar to a golf tee. The player throws their first shot from this spot. Rectangular in shape, made usually concrete or grass, and even sometimes can be just a dirt spot.

Fairway: The intended path from the tee to the target. It’s generally the most straightforward route but only sometimes the easiest. The fairway can be a narrow alleyway lined with many trees on some courses or sometimes even a wide open area with fewer obstacles.

Guardian Tree: A tree or other obstacle that directly obstructs the path to the basket, requiring a player to shape their shot to get around it strategically. They are generally used to add some difficulty to a hole.

A Beginners Guide to Disc Golf Terminology

A gorgeous fairway of the Cascade Challenge, some fairways are wooded like this one, and some are more open. Photo: DGPT/Kevin Huver.

Basket: A suspended catching device that serves as the end goal/target of each hole on the course. The baskets consist of a metal pole, cage, and chains at the professional level and nearly everywhere else. The aim is to get your disc to land in this basket in as few throws as possible.

A Beginners Guide to Disc Golf Terminology

Kyle Klein is putting into the basket at the 2023 Prodigy Presents Waco tournament. Photo: DGPT/Kevin Huver.

Par: The expected number of throws should take a player to get their disc from the tee into the basket.

Birdie: Similar to traditional ball golf, a score of one throw is less than par on any hole.

Eagle: A score of two throws less than par. Achieving this is difficult and generally shows off a player’s extraordinary skill.

Bogey: This is a score of one throw more than par. It’s also a term borrowed from traditional ball golf.

Turkey: Scoring three birdies in a row!

Albatross: In disc golf, an albatross is a score of three throws under par on a single hole. It’s a rare feat, even more so than an eagle (two under par), because it usually requires a long-distance throw into the basket on a par five hole. Achieving an albatross is a significant accomplishment and a testament to a player’s skill and accuracy.

Gameplay Techniques

Drive: The first throw off the tee, typically a long-distance throw.  

Hyzer: A throw in which the disc is released with the outside edge at an angle lower than the inside edge. If the ungripped edge of a disc is closer to the ground than the edge in a player’s hand, the disc is on a hyzer angle. Hyzer throws accentuate a disc’s natural flight pattern (e.g., right-hand backhand throws will naturally move to the left.  When speaking to other disc golfers this disc golf terminology will be used quite frequently when discussing shot-shaping, etc.

Anhyzer: The opposite of a hyzer throw, the disc is released with the outside edge at an angle higher than the inside edge. An anhyzer angle is when the gripped edge of the disc is closer to the ground than the ungripped edge at the point of release. Anhyzer throws go against a disc’s natural flight pattern (e.g, right hand back hand throws naturally move to the left, but an anhyzer angle forces it to fly to the right)

Roller: One technique that can be helpful when playing disc golf is a throw where the disc is thrown at an angle that causes it to land on its edge and roll. This throw is often used to cover a lot of distance, especially when many trees encumber the route to the basket with branches that cause a lower ceiling for a disc to travel through. It can be tricky to master, but it can become a valuable tool in a player’s arsenal with practice.

Fan/Comfort Grip: The fan grip is a way to hold a disc where the fingers are spread out or ‘fanned’ across the underside of the disc. This grip offers more control and is generally used for shorter throws and putting.

Power Grip: A power grip is when a player holds the disc where all four fingers are under the disc along the rim and the thumb is on top. This grip type generates the most power and is generally used for longer throws.

Ella Hansen utilizing a power grip at the 2023 Portland Open. Photo: DGPT/Kevin Huver.

Ella Hansen utilizing a power grip at the 2023 Portland Open. Photo: DGPT/Kevin Huver.

Grip Lock: A standard throwing error where the disc is released later than intended, typically causing the throw to go to the right for right-handed backhand throws. Generally a common beginning disc golfers mistake, but it can be made by all players. 

Flex Shot: A throw where an overstable disc is released on an anhyzer angle, causing it to initially turn right and then flex back to the left (for right-handed backhand throws), and it can be a difficult shot for beginners to make. 

S-Curve: In disc golf, an S-Curve is a flight path where the disc turns right, then fades back left (for a right-handed backhand throw), resembling the shape of the letter ‘S.’ A player can achieve this flight path by throwing an understable disc with a slight hyzer angle.

Backhand: The traditional way to throw a disc, with the back of the hand leading and the arm releasing the disc in front of the body.

Jennifer Allen throwing backhand at the 2022 OTB Open. Photo: DGPT/Kevin Huver

Jennifer Allen throwing backhand at the 2022 OTB Open. Photo: DGPT/Kevin Huver

Forehand/Flick: A throwing style where the disc is flicked out using the index and middle fingers underneath the disc along the inside of the rim, the ring finger and pinky placed on the outside of the rim, and the thumb on the top side of the disc. 

Adam Hammes throwing forehand at the 2023 Zoo Town Open. Photo: DGPT/Gage Hamilton

Adam Hammes throwing forehand at the 2023 Zoo Town Open. Photo: DGPT/Gage Hamilton

Understable: An understable disc, in disc golf, turns right when thrown flat and straight with a right-handed backhand throw (or left with a left-handed backhand). These discs are more affected by high-speed turn at the beginning of their flight, often causing a noticeable curve to the right. Understable discs are usually easier to throw for beginners and are excellent for achieving shots that require a rightward path. This disc golf terminology is used frequently while watching live tournament coverage.

Overstable: This term describes the flight characteristics of a disc. An overstable disc turns left when thrown right-handed backhand (or right when thrown left-handed backhand). The high-speed stability of the disc is what causes it to be overstable.

Meathook: Refers to a highly overstable disc that hooks or fades hard to the left at the end of its flight path (for right-handed backhand throws).

Don’t Nice Me, Bro: “Don’t nice me, bro” is a funny term that originated in the disc golf community. Some players think that complimenting or acknowledging a good throw (such as saying, “Nice shot!”) while still in the air could bring bad luck, resulting in an unexpected negative outcome, like hitting a tree or going out of bounds. When a player says, “Don’t nice me, bro,” they politely request not to be complimented mid-flight to avoid this supposed jinx. It’s all in good fun and shows the friendly and playful attitude of the disc golf community.

Out of Bounds (OB): Designated areas on a course where a disc is not supposed to land. Landing in these areas often results in penalty strokes.

Penalty Stroke: A penalty stroke is an additional throw added to a player’s score for a rule violation, such as the disc landing out of bounds or a foot fault.

Approach: A subsequent throw aimed to land the disc near or in the basket.

Parked: A term used when a disc lands close to the basket, typically within the 10-meter circle, making for an easy putt.

Lay-Up: A conservative play where the disc is thrown to land close to the basket rather than trying to make it in the basket in a single shot.

Putt: A short throw into the basket. Like in traditional golf, accuracy is critical here.

Jump Putt: This type of putting technique where players propel themselves forward from behind their marker and release the disc before their feet touch the ground beyond their marker. The jump putt allows the player to gain more momentum and potentially throw further while still complying with the rule that a player must not have contact with the ground beyond their marker when the disc is released. 

A Beginners Guide to Disc Golf Terminology

Matt Orrum jump-putting at the 2022 Discraft’s Green Mountain Championship. Photo: DGPT/Gage Hamilton

Weak Side/Am Side: The weak side of the basket refers to the left side for a right-handed putt (and the right side for a left-handed putt). Putts aimed here are less likely to be caught by the chains and stay in the basket, often bouncing or deflecting out instead.

Strong Side/Pro Side: The strong side refers to the right side of the basket for a right-handed putt (and the left side for a left-handed putt). Putts aimed at the strong side are more likely to hit the chains and successfully stay in the basket.

Tournament Terms

Ace: A hole-in-one. It means the player made it from the tee into the basket in a single throw.

Mando (Mandatory): One of the rules in disc golf is that the player’s disc must pass on a specific side of a designated object.

PDGA: Professional Disc Golf Association, the governing body for disc golf.

Rating: The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) uses a player rating system to measure players’ skills based on past performance. The higher the rating, the better the player, with 1000 being a top professional level.

DGPT: Disc Golf Pro Tour, an organization that creates and promotes premier disc golf tournaments.

DGN: Disc Golf Network, the only organization that streams the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s live disc golf tournaments.

A Beginners Guide to Disc Golf Terminology

AJ Risely, a Disc Golf Network camera operator capturing live coverage of the 2023 Portland Open. Photo Credit: DGPT/Kevin Huver.

Hazard: In disc golf, a hazard typically refers to a designated area on the course that imposes specific penalties or restrictions on play. Hazards include water features, out-of-bounds areas, trees, and rough terrain.

Foot Fault: A rules violation where a player’s supporting point is not in contact with the lie from when the disc is released. Foot faults can result in a penalty stroke. Very essential disc golf terminology to remember while watching or participating in a disc golf tournament.

TD: Tournament Director, the local organizing director that runs tournaments. 

Taking Relief: This rule in disc golf allows a player to move their lie away from an obstacle (like a tree, bush, or man-made object) without incurring a penalty. The player can move their disc back along the line of play (the imaginary line that extends directly from the target through the lie) until the obstacle no longer interferes with their stance or throwing motion. However, the specific rules for taking relief can vary between courses and tournaments, so it’s always a good idea to check local rules and regulations.

Ready Golf: Ready golf is a guideline suggesting that the player who is prepared to throw should do so, irrespective of the furthest from the hole, to maintain a good pace of play. This concept helps to speed up rounds and is especially useful in casual play. However, this can not be used in tournament play at all!

Up and Down: Refers to finishing a hole in two throws, typically one approach shot (up) and one putt (down), from a given position on the course.

As a beginner in disc golf, it’s important to know some essential disc golf terminology. Remember, even experts were once beginners.  The most important thing is to have fun, so grab a disc and head to your local course to enjoy this fun sport!

Want some more beginner series articles to peruse? Check out this article on Disc Golf Etiquette: Tips from the Pros, How to Introduce Disc Golf to Your Friends, or a Beginner’s Guide to Disc Golf.

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