‘The circle’ is rarely marked on amateur disc golf courses, and many beginners haven’t even heard of it or understand what it means for their game.
In this article we’re going to explore one of the most commonly broken rules by beginners, without them even knowing!
The circle is an area with a radius of 10m (32 feet and 9 ¾ inches) centres on the basket. If the circle is not indicated on the course it’s down to the players to agree its extents. Inside the circle the PDGA rules in clause 806.01, relating to putting apply.
In case you aren’t sure, I’ve made a little diagram here showing what that means. The central black marker indicates the location of the basket, the red larger circle indicates the area known as the circle with the distance clearly marked to avoid confusion about if the distance is a radius or diameter measurement.
What do the PDGA have to say on the 10m rule?
This is where things get interesting and many novice players are inadvertently breaking the rules.
If you’re throwing your disc inside the circle, the throw is classed as a putt. Be aware that you can ‘putt’ from outside the circle but putts from further than 10m aren’t classed as a putt in the official rules so the following doesn’t apply:
The following is an extract from the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) rules, clause 806.01 Putting Area
(A) Any throw made from within 10 meters of the target, as measured from the rear of the marker disc to the base of the target, is a putt.
(B) After having released a putt, the player must demonstrate full control of balance behind the marker disc before advancing toward the target. A player who fails to do so has committed a stance violation and receives one penalty throw.
There are two parts to this rule so let’s break it down.
Part (A) is how the PDGA defines what players affectionately call ‘the circle’. It’s very clear, any throw from within 10m of the target is classed as a putt.
The next section, (B), defines a further part of the rules which is only triggered if you are throwing a putt.
If you throw a putt and fall over, or move too quickly then your throw may be deemed a stance violation, sometimes called a foot fault, and you will receive a penalty stroke.
As you may see here, there is often some debate about how best to demonstrate ‘full control of balance’ when inside the circle. The PDGA has released a video demonstrating how a player can demonstrate balance. Note that the video was released some time ago and the rule clause references have since been updated by the spirit of the rule is still the same:
The video shows some… unconventional(!)… putting techniques but does clearly demonstrate what can and can’t be done withing the rules.
When can you jump Putt in Disc Golf?
Jump putts are very popular for longer range putting because the jump you do when releasing the putting disc helps propel the disc further. But how does that fit in with the PDGA rules when showing balance?
The short answer is that you can’t. I can’t imagine a way to complete a jump putt which conforms with the 10m rule from the PDGA. If you aren’t sure what a step putt is here is a video from Danny Lindahl about jump putting.
In this video Danny calls the throws he is making as putts. In reality they do not classify as ‘putts’ as per the PDGA rules since a jump putt would need to be thrown from outside the circle to avoid a foot fault.
What about step putting?
Another common form of putting you’ll see from some pros is what has become known as the step putt.
When I first saw this style of putt I couldn’t believe that the putt was allowed and not a foot fault as it would appear that the front foot of the player lands in front of the marker before the disc is released.
There are a number of videos online about this, and I highly recommend you give this style of putting a try but the more I’ve watched videos the more I am siding that it is a legal putt.
The Disc Golf Guy has released a video showing slow motion clips of Paul Ulibarri and Dave Feldberg using the step putt
What is Circle 2?
That’s all great and wonderful but what about circle 2?
Let me first just clear up that circle 2 is not classed anywhere in the PDGA rules as something that is part of the official game.
Circle 2 is widely used to analyse statistical plays from players. The idea behind circle 2 is to look at longer range putts (that aren’t classed as putts in the rules) that pros are more likely to try and miss. Adding up the attempts and the sunk throws allows players and coaches to look at a player’s short game and see where improvements can be made.
Circle 2 is the area between 10m and 20m (33-66ft) from a basket. This starts at the outside edge of circle 1.
There are other variations of the circles used for statistical analysis of players, perhaps the most common is circle 1X which is the same as circle 1 but removes any putts from within 3.3m (11ft) which pros are expected to make to get a clearer idea of what putts that aren’t gimmies players are sinking.
I hope this has cleared up the 10m rule and the mystery circle that some players talk about, or you might have seen at your local course. As a beginner it’s good to be aware of these rules as it allows you to grow your game but adding extra constraints from the official rulebook.