Disc Golf Scoring (Explanation for Beginners)

Last updated on March 11th, 2024 at 06:23 pm

Last updated by Maredith Damasco

When I was a kid, I remember watching golf on TV. One of the players was soundly beating his competitors (I thought). His score was so much higher that his competitors! I made mention to my dad about how good he was doing and how all the other guys were mere peasants to him. That is when I learned that in golf, a lower score is better. That confused me greatly, since that was the opposite of other sports. But then I understood that if you can complete the same hole in fewer strokes than the another guy, then you’re performing better than the other guy.

Disc golf is quite similar to golf in this regard. The low score is the winner in a competition. Within this article we will discuss how scoring works in Disc Golf. There are a lot of similarities to ball golf, and some differences.

General Disc Golf Scoring Terms

When it comes to disc golf scoring, there are a lot of similarities between Golf and Disc Golf. Some terms are the same, while other terms are different. Here are a few terms of which you should be aware of; par, birdie, eagle, ace, hazard, out of bounds, and penalty stroke. This link will take you to the PDGA’s official rules for keeping score in a PDGA sanctioned tournament, and most non-PDGA sanctioned tournament play as well. That link refers to a scoring rule that is new for 2024. The new rule indicates that every player must keep score for the entire group. The rule allows a player’s caddy to keep score for them. It is helpful for each player to understand the terminology associated with disc golf scoring.

 Scoring Terminology


Par: The amount of strokes it should take to complete the hole.

Birdie: When it takes someone one stroke less than the Par of the hole.

Eagle: When it takes someone two strokes less than the Par of the hole.

Albatross: When it takes someone three strokes less than the Par of the hole.

Ace: When an individual throws their disc into the basket from the tee pad in one throw (a hole-in-one).

Hazard: A term used to describe a landing zone that may cause you to play from where the disc entered the area and take a penalty stroke, or play from where the disc landed and take a penalty stroke.

Out of Bounds: A term used to identify a place that a disc cannot land, if it does, the thrower will take a penalty stroke and throw from where the disc entered the zone, not where it landed.

Penalty Stroke: A term used to add one “stroke” to an individual’s score, this is a consequence for going out of bounds, landing in a hazard, or not following a rule. Note, the individual does not actually throw again, it is just adding one stroke to their current stroke tally.

Disc Golf Scoring for Casual and Tournament Play

For the most part scoring is pretty simple. Every time that you throw a disc, that counts as one “stroke”. As you play a hole, you’ll count each throw until you get your disc into the basket. Then you’ll add your throws together for the total for that hole. You’ll do this for each of the holes that you play, once complete you’ll add all the holes’ stroke count to each other to get the total for the round.

Casual Disc Golf Scoring

For the most part, people play disc golf in a casual sense. They’re out playing a round with a couple of their friends. Adhering to the rules is quite loose and not very well watched. Out of bound, hazards, and disc lie rules may be followed or disregarded. The point of this type of play is more about playing disc golf in a very relaxed setting enjoying disc golf for what it is.

Often, score isn’t really kept in this setting. You may keep a tally of how many strokes per hole, but you may also not keep the total tally of round. Playing a casual round is focused more on the play rather than the score.

Tournament and Competitive Disc Golf Scoring

During tournament play, the score is much more important than it is in casual play. This is the time where performance matters, and rule abidance is necessary.

When it comes time to keeping score in a tournament setting, it is quite simple. Everyone must keep score for everyone on the card. The scoring must be done after each hole. As mentioned above, a player’s caddy can keep score for them. Scoring can be done on a paper scorecard or electronically on an app.

At the end of each hole, someone will call the names of the players, and that player will call out their score on the hole. It is a good idea for the player calling the names to repeat the score, just to make sure everyone heard it correctly. If there is a disagreement, then it falls upon all the card mates to go through the hole and all the throws and penalty strokes until there is an agreement on the score for that hole.

After the round is finished, every player needs to verify the scores and make sure that it is accurate. Once it has been verified, the score is submitted to the TD. Scores must be submitted withing a half hour of finishing the round.

Rules that can Increase your Score

Disc golf is unlike most other sports, as there isn’t a referee following each card to make sure that the player’s are following rules. For the most part, rule following is enforced by the card mates and yourself. Breaking a rule generally leads to a stroke penalty, so it is good to know them and follow them.

While playing in a tournament, there are a few rules that I keep in mind; foot fault, putting within/without the circle, and courtesy violations. Failure to follow these rules leads to penalty strokes. Nobody wants extra strokes on their score. The video below describes these rules well enough that you should be able to understand them well enough to apply them in a tournament setting. The important thing to make note here, is that failure to comply to these rules will result in penalty strokes. Below are the links to the rules if you want to read up on them, and feel free to leave questions in the comments below.

Throwing Rules

Courtesy Violations

Ways to Keep Score for Disc Golf

Regardless of the situation in which you are playing. There are mainly two ways of keeping score, on paper or on  a app. Of the two I prefer using the app, as I pretty much always have my phone on me. And rarely do I have a scorecard on me.

Using a Paper Scorecard

A paper scorecard is a nice and simple way of keeping score. You can use any piece of paper that you have (making your own card), or you can use a printed scorecard, like the one below. Using it is quite simple, you’ll write the names of the people that are playing on the left side and then the amount of holes along the top. And then as you play each hole, take a break at the end of the hole and ask people’s stroke count. Put that number on the same row as their name and below the according hole. You’ll continue to do this as you progress through the course. Most of the time you’ll start on hole 1, but in some instances you’ll start on a different hole. You’ll still play through all the holes, you’ll just start and end on a different hole than typical.

Using a Phone Scorecard App

This is my preferred method for keeping score. Its versatile, provides maps, and I almost always have my phone on me. I don’t always have a paper scorecard. Following the same method as before, I’ll still take a brief break at the end of each hole, all to grab the stroke count of my card mates. Additionally, this will keep a running total score of my overall round, which is pretty awesome. The app provides some additional features that the paper does not. Depending on the information added onto the app, it may also provide a map of the hole/course. It can even provide course rules, hazards, and other pertinent course information.

There are two apps that I’ve really enjoyed using, Infinite Disc Golf and Udisc. Currently I’m using the Udisc app, as the Infinite Disc Golf app doesn’t work all that well on iPhone. I really enjoy the Udisc app, it has a lot of courses on it, and a lot of reviews for these courses. As a side note, when I’m traveling these two things are excellent in helping me to find a good course to play.

The userface of the Udisc app is pretty easy to use. It uses my location to find a course near me. Then allows me to add individuals easily to my card. Once I’ve got it set up, it is very easy to keep track of the score and make sure that I am on the right hole.

Concluding Thoughts on Keeping Score

We’ve gone over a handful of things pertinent to disc golf scoring. These terms will help you understand what is happening out there on the course. We’ve also gone over the general way to keep the score. Whether they’re playing a tournament round or casual round. Hopefully, you now know how to keep score within a disc golf round. Have a great time out there!