Sometimes, opportunities present themselves where a player has to decide if he/she needs to, or can, move an object due to: obstruction, annoyance, or safety.
While many players may play by informal rules or not know the rules at all,
Here's what the updated PDGA guidelines and rules officially have to say about it:
PDGA Moving Obstacles Rule 803.01:
A. A player must choose the stance that results in the least movement of any obstacle that is a permanent or integral part of the course. Once a stance has been taken, the player may not move an obstacle in order to make room for a throwing motion. It is legal for a player's throwing motion to cause incidental movement of an obstacle.
B. A player is not allowed to move any obstacle on the course, with the following exceptions:
A player may move casual obstacles that are on or behind the lie partially or completely on the lie or in the stance area, regardless of whether they extend in front of or behind the lie. A casual obstacle is any item or collection of loose debris (such as stones, leaves, twigs, or unconnected branches), or any item as designated by the Director.
A player may request that other people move themselves or their belongings.
A player may restore course equipment to its proper working order, including the removal of obstacles.
C. A player who moves any obstacle on the course other than as allowed above receives one penalty throw.
So, what does this mean exactly?
The above rules help to ensure that players maintain good integrity with their stances and do not give themselves an unfair advantage.
Should your disc land in a living bush or under a low hanging tree branch, by rule you have to avoid moving any of the living parts of those objects.
Should your disc slide under a dead and fallen branch, your disc may be marked first at the nearest point of the disc facing the basket, and then you are permitted to remove the unattached object from the area, preferably into the wood line and not into the middle of the course.
A 1 stroke penalty is attached to someone who deliberately breaks these set rules.
Another PDGA rules prohibits any player from damaging living parts of the course or moving specifically placed barriers, ropes, signs, etc at a 2 stroke penalty to the player's score.
What if I can't move the object that is in question?
If you would like to move an object, and are legally allowed to do so, but cannot for various reasons such as weight of the object, you do still have options.
And these options are known as "Relief", of which are 2 kinds.
Casual relief - this is taken when the disc comes to rest, per the PDGA, too close to: motor vehicles, harmful insects or animals, people, or any item or area as designated by the Director. To obtain relief, the player may mark a new lie that is on the line of play, farther from the target, at the nearest point that provides relief.
Optional relief - at any time, a player can announce that he/she is taking relief for their own reason and the relief must be marked behind the original lie and in line with the basket. This optional relief comes with a one stroke penalty such as an Out of Bounds (OB) does.
A final note from the PDGA rule book states: No penalty throw is added if optional relief is being taken following a penalty taken for a disc out-of-bounds or above two meters.
When in doubt, one of the best solutions is to ask your fellow card mates if something can be moved, leaned on, or to have specific relief.
A group consensus is the best way to make sure no one is willing to nail you with a violation.
Keeping a rule book with you or having access to Udisc can sometimes help make those tough decisions easier on the group as Udisc offers an in-app rule book.
Can I move objects that are on the course after my throw?
If you are walking a course, you may notice many types of debris, such as but not including: trash, dead falls, sticks, etc.
As a common courtesy to all players, you should clean up all trash whenever you see it, even if you do not have a place to immediately dispose of it. This of course only holds true if you can do so in a sanitary manner as there is no reason you should pick up trash that could potentially make you sick, so use your best judgement.
As for dead falls such as sticks/branches on the course, some players do feel compelled to help clean up a course and will move such objects from the fairways and greens and into the adjacent wood lines.
While this is not a requirement, it does help keep the course looking clean and is very considerate for other players who will play the hole after you.
It also makes the work of the groundskeeper that much easier as they don't have to spend unnecessary time cleaning up things that players are constantly walking past.
Just be sure that the debris is clearly dead, and unattached from a living tree or bush, and you are good to go.
Lastly, while you may be the one cleaning up litter and debris, be accountable as well and don't be the one who is leaving unnecessary debris on the course.
The old saying, 'Leave it in a better condition than how you found it" is 100% true here.
Now that you know when you can or cannot move something, and if you can or cannot move something, it's time to head out, and enjoy your next round of disc golf!
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