How Do We Feel About Out-of-Bounds

One of the questions on the 2018 State of Disc Golf Survey asked disc golfers how they feel about out-of-bounds rules. It was a straight-forward question and the breakdown of the responses is pretty basic. While some players feel strongly in favor of, or against the use of “OB” in the game, most players seem indifferent and feel like the use of Out-of-Bounds is generally fine.

These were the possible responses:

–> I don’t like OB and feel it should only be implemented when necessary.  16.9%

–> I feel indifferent about OB. Some OB is good, and other OB detracts from disc golf. 64.6%

–> I like lots of OB and feel that added OB enhances the disc golf experience. Bring on the islands! 14.8%

–> N/A I don’t play out-of-bounds rules anyway. 3.7%

It appears that most players understand that OB lines can be necessary to discourage players from crossing fairways or throwing toward areas where discs shouldn’t fly. But when it comes to adding more OB’s just for the sake of adding difficulty to the course, slightly more players appear to feel that it can go too far (16.9%) while a slightly smaller number feel like more OB lines add to the experience (14.8%).

We asked our own crew what they felt about OB lines, and while most are as indifferent as the majority of survey participants, the most poignant response was from our Open level player. He basically said that OB’s which are drawn artificially around naturally occurring hazards, like trees or rough terrain, should be removed. Why? Because if you throw into those areas, then navigating out of the rough terrain or throwing out of trees can be like a penalty stroke already– you either pay the price by wasting a throw to get back onto the fairway, or you prove your skill by escaping unscathed. He feels that any time a stroke is added to his score card that he did not throw, it is unwarranted. The exception would be obvious out-of-bounds lines that protect other fairways, roads, foot traffic areas, etc.

If you have opinions about OB’s that you’d like to share, please feel free to leave comments below.


  • Michael J Bacon

    OB’s when necessary. I’ve seen tournament directors create fake OB’s trying to make difficult courses more difficult. Which is why I do not play in tournaments run by the PDGA club in Helena, MT. They make it an OB if you don’t land on the green on a drive from tee box. Ridiculous.

  • Yes, the less OB the better. Like mandatories, OB should be used primarily for practical/safety purposes.

    I strongly agree with your pro that OB around natural hazards is silly. It turns a *potential* bad score — what i call a half-stroke danger — into an inescapable penalty stroke. Ideally, a layout provides many half-stroke opportunities and half-stroke dangers, where good shots and bad shots, respectively, *may* lead to a good or bad score on the hole.

    Regarding OB for tournament play, particularly high-level play, it’s a little different… The players are so good, the designers and TDs struggle to create scoring separation on each hole. Ideally, no more than 50-60% of the players in a given division should get the same score on a given hole. The challenge is to do so fairly — for example, don’t penalize reasonably good throws by making the OB too tight. And don’t introduce so much artificial OB that you harm the aesthetic and joy of watching discs fly around obstacles rather than trying to land between ropes in an open space.

    This coming weekend, the touring pros will be at the San Francisco Open, a Disc Golf Pro Tour event. My layout on Gleneagles Golf Course, opened last year, will have lots of OB. However, except for one par 4 with a roped off OB in the middle of an otherwise blank fairway, all the OB uses existing course elements such as cart paths and golf greens as OB, and bunkers (sand traps) as hazards.

    More importantly, the vast majority of OB and hazards only jeopardize bad shots for 1000-rated competitors. For example, all seven par 4s and 5s have OB on the drive, but the landing areas are generous — and where OB is found both sides of these fairways, the landing area is at least 100 feet wide. Around the greens, there are three holes with OB or hazards are within 25 feet, but only one of these (#18) has close OB on more than one side of the basket. But if the player makes a bad shot, at least half the holes have trouble 40-50 feet away from the basket, usually off to one side.

    Lucky for us, Gleneagles’ terrain is challenging enough — wind, elevation, and more technical holes than most golf courses — that we didn’t need a lot of fake OB to create strategic options and challenging shots which enable the best players to move up (or down) the scoreboard.

    At least, that’s how I expect it to play out. 🙂

  • OBs, just as mandatories, should be used for safety purposes only.

  • Tyler Cockcroft

    Not a fan of OB around already existing hazards, or unnecessary ob especially close to a basket, that can potentially penalize an otherwise good shot. I do agree some ob is necessary to deter errant shots or for safety reasons. One area I’m ok with artificial ob is to make an island green, I love islands. I think they make for a fun and interesting challenge especially on a hole that would otherwise be too simple.

  • Well I think that OB should only exist if they need for OB on a hole. Things already on the hole like say paths and or areas that water ends up draining into, should be used as ob by making the path ob. now other things like a parking lot/road make for obvious safety ob as does cross over fairways on some holes. However do not make OB be on the hole unless the hole could use some to make it harder for everybody Rec/Intermediate on up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *