One of the most controversial rules in disc golf is the two-meter rule. Professional and casual disc golfers alike have chanted for years that the PDGA should throw this rule out of the book. For better or worse, it is in there and we have to deal with it. But what is the two-meter rule and why does everyone hate it so much? Let’s take a closer look at each of these questions.
What is the two-meter rule in disc golf? When the two-meter rule is in effect, players receive a penalty stroke if their disc lands two-meters above the ground while still in-bounds. This typically occurs on wooded disc golf courses where your disc lands in a tree.
Why does everyone hate the two-meter rule? The two-meter rule is viewed as a double penalty by most players. If you were to land in a tree above two-meters you’re likely already far out of position from where you wanted to be. In addition to being out of position for the birdie, you’re also given a penalty throw to your score.
Ouch. That’s a two stroke swing.
But there’s more to it than that. There are two sides of the argument of why the rule should and shouldn’t be used.
Disc Golf Two-Meter Rule Further Explained
The two-meter rule is a discretionary rule in disc golf. Officially, a tournament director (TD) can declare the rule to be active or inactive for the tournament. Not only that, the TD can choose to have the rule in effect for the entire course, specific holes, or specific objects on the course.
In this regard, the TD has a lot of sway over how the tournament is carried out, but this was only added to the rules around 2009.
In casual play, I’ve never encountered a group that declares the two-meter rule to be in effect. Which goes a long ways in showing how disc golfers feel about the rule.
In your disc does land in something that is two-meters above the playing surface, you’re supposed to draw an imaginary line directly down to the ground underneath where your disc came to rest. That is where you throw from next.
For purposes of measuring the two-meter rule, you are supposed to measure from the lowest point of the disc. Since two-meters is about 6 1/2 feet, I’ve never seen anybody actually measure out the distance. Typically if can reach the disc or jump up and grab it, players will not call you on the rule.
There are a few strange situations that can arise with this rule. Specifically, the PDGA added a clarification in the rule book for when you’re disc comes to rest on top of a basket.
When I first started playing disc golf, I ran into this situation when a friend’s disc landed on top of a basket. We thought it was such an amazing feat that we both declared it as if he had made it in the basket. Of course, we were wrong and this situation doesn’t count as finishing a hole.
But what if your disc comes to rest ON TOP of a basket that is over two-meters? Does that count? According to the PDGA, if your disc is supported by the basket, it is not subject to the rule.
It isn’t common, but some disc golf courses have very tall baskets. Or even baskets that are hanging from tress.
Keep in mind that if your disc does land in a tree, don’t move it until you and the players on your card have made a decision if you should receive a penalty stroke. If you move your disc before that determination, it will be as if were above two-meters and you’ll receive the penalty.
Pros and Cons of the Two-Meter Rule
Let’s look at a few pros and cons to the rule.
All or Nothing
Some players have voiced the opinion that rules shouldn’t be discretionary at all in the sport. Either we play the two-meter rule all the time or not at all. This has some merit.
However, one important thing to remember is that disc golf courses are all over the world in many different landscapes. Some courses are heavily wooded while others are wide open with just a few trees.
It can make sense for a tournament director to make the two-meter inactive for a course that is in the woods since the degree of difficulty is high enough. For a course that is wide open with just a few tree it can make sense for the rule to be active in order to add another level of difficulty to the course.
Too Difficult to Judge
Disc golf is unique in that it doesn’t have official judges walking around enforcing the rules. Even in tournament play, disc golf is more like a dignified game of pick-up basketball. The players that are playing enforce the rules themselves.
This rule in and of itself has problems, but it is also very convenient.
Because the players are also the judges, it can be difficult to judge the two-meter rule. Unless someone brought a measuring tape in their bag, there could confusion on how to make the right call.
It’s Like Other Rules
There is a strong argument among players that the two-meter rule is no difference than other rules in disc golf.
If your disc flies out of bounds, you’re likely out of position for a birdie, but you also get a plenty stroke added to your score. The same goes for hazard areas and mandatory routes.
Having the two-meter rule adds another level a difficulty just like out of bound and mandatory routes. To argue for the two-meter rule to be removed could be seen as the same as arguing for mandatory routes to be removed.
Some courses are designed specifically with this rule in mind. A course designer may want to restrict certain paths to the basket that would make a hole too easy. For example, a tomahawk or thumber throw are commonly used on heavily wooded holes to access the pin from up above. If the course designer wanted to penalize this, they could disincentive players with the two-meter rule.
Southern California is notorious for this. They don’t have that many wooded courses, so to increase the level of difficultly they will use the two-meter rule as a useful difficulty lever.
It’s All Random
Some players have argued that the two-meter rule is too arbitrary to be a real rule. You may see 10 players hit the same tree, but only 1 player is unlucky enough for THEIR disc to get stuck in that tree. Why should they get penalized for this and not the others?
On the other hand, if you saw 10 putts strike a target directly in the middle of the chains, but 1 somehow passed through the chains and out the other end, isn’t that the same thing?
Disc golf, like other sports, inherently has different degrees of probability and chance. You can’t avoid that. There will also be decisions that carry a certain level of risk/reward.
You have full control over where you throw your disc. If you throw it in the direction of a tree that could catch your disc, you need to weigh the risk with the potential reward.