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Disc golf has as its object getting a frisbee into a basket with as few throws as possible.
The question how do you score in disc golf has as its answer is each time you throw.
Specifically, your score in throw-play golf is the number of throws during the round.
Generally, disc golf rounds have eighteen holes, as in traditional ball golf.
Under the rules of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), the governing body of professional disc golf, a round must have at least 13 holes.
Since disc golf courses have shorter holes than in traditional golf, course designers can get more holes into an area.
This means 27-hole disc courses are not extraordinary.
To arrive at your score, simply add the tally of throws and penalties for each hole.
As in ball golf, the player with the lowest score wins.
However, the raw numbers don’t necessarily tell you how you’re faring during the round.
If you want to know your current standings in a round or tournament, you need to know how far below or above par you stand.
What is Par in disc golf?
In traditional golf and the disc version, par means the number of throws (in the disc golf vernacular) it should take you to complete a hole, assuming normal weather conditions.
Think of par in disc golf as being average, in a sense, on the course.
As a general rule, determining par assumes that two-putting will suffice for the disc to find the basket.
As a result, much of what goes into par turns on getting from tee to green.
The PDGA relies chiefly upon length and foliage in its guidelines on what constitutes par for a particular hole.
As you might expect, it takes more throws to reach par on longer holes.
Holes on a disc golf course range on average between 200 feet and 400 feet.
The PDGA advises that the holes be at least 120 feet long, but there is typically no prescribed or prohibited maximum length.
That means you might encounter holes as long as 1,350 feet.
The length of a hole depends in part on where you start the hole.
In turn, you decide where you make your tee throw by your skill level.
A colored landmark or spot indicates that skill level or ability.
The PDGA uses a concept called “scratch scoring average” (SSA) as a numerical or statistical gauge of skill.
If you’re a scratch disc golfer, that means your score averages that for the course layout.
Being a scratch golfer earns you a 1000 rating.
If you don’t score as well as the SSA, you will have lower ratings.
If you choose tee boxes according to the PDGA’s rating:
- Gold: 1000 rating
- Blue: 950 rating
- White: 900 rating
- Red: 850 rating
Those who play at the gold tees play the longest lengths for the holes. Blue holes are second in length, followed by white and red.
Even if you don’t know or care about your SSA rating, you can employ other criteria to decide from what tees you want to play.
Normally, red and white tees are for beginners and novices or those who play mainly for recreation.
If you have more experience or ability, you might try the longer blue or gold tees.
All other things equal, players at red and white tees have shorter Par 3s, Par 4s, and Par 5s, than those at the blue or gold level.
The PDGA does not recommend that courses have Par 2. The Association considers such Par 2 holes to be too short.
The number of throws you have on a hole without going over par also depends on the thickness of foliage on the hole.
Discs have to navigate trees and leaves. When errant throws strike foliage, your disc may find a hazard or that your disc doesn’t travel very far.
The PDGA guidelines provide that holes with thicker foliage have lower thresholds between pars than those holes with thinner foliage.
This reflects that thicker leaves and trees increase the difficulty of a hole.
Disc Golf Scoring Terms
In discussing how do you score in disc golf, you’ll generally find the same or similar vernacular as in ball golf.
Again, the types of scores have par as a reference point.
- Ace — An ace, or hole-in-one, happens when your disc finds the basket on the first throw.
- Birdie — When you score a birdie, that means it took one less throw than par to complete the hole. Thus:
Par 3: Two strokes
Par 4: Three strokes
Par 5: Four strokes
- Eagle — An eagle flies on a hole in which you complete in two throws under par.
*Par 4: Two strokes
*Par 5: Three strokes
Note that you won’t get an eagle on a Par 3. That’s because three throws (par) less two throws you don’t need equals one throw (i.e., an ace).
- Double-Eagle — On a double eagle, you have three fewer throws than par. These feats are recorded only on Par 5s. On a Par 4, you would (at least theoretically) score an ace if it took you three less throws than par to land in the basket.
- Bogey — You get a bogey when it takes you one throw over par to finish the hole:
*Par 3: Four strokes
*Par 4: Five strokes
*Par 5: Six strokes
- Double Bogey — Double bogeys equate to two strokes over par on a hole:
*Par 3: Five strokes
*Par 4: Six strokes
*Par 5: Seven strokes
About penalties in disc golf
Errant throws and other violations of the rules of disc golf can lead to throws being added to your total.
Commonly, disc golfers get penalized one throw for throwing out-of-bounds, which means having your disc completely in an out-of-bounds zone or completely submerged in water.
Other infractions that earn you a penalty throw include leaving your feet while throwing the disc in the hole, not having at least one foot in the tee box on a tee throw and when your disc lands above the ground.
How you score in golf is really a question about how far below par you reach.
The number of throws it takes depends on your skill set, experience, ability and the length you decide to play.
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