April 11, 2024

Disc Golf Evolution: Mandos, Hazards, and Drop Zones Debate


Disc golf, a sport that marries the precision of traditional golf with the accessibility of a frisbee, has surged in popularity in recent years. As the sport evolves, so does the discourse around its rules and course design. A recent conversation has been ignited by professional disc golfer Simon Lizotte, who proposed some significant changes to the game, a Disc Golf Evolution. He posted on his Instagram story:

“Disc golf needs more mandos. I used to hate mandos and thought it was poor course design. But the reality is that we don’t have a real disc golf course that was built just for disc golf yet. Until then, we need more mandos. And get rid of all drop zones. If you miss the mando, play it where it lies with a stroke penalty. Also all OB should be hazard. =better game.”

This essay delves into the pros and cons of Lizotte’s suggestions, ultimately leaving the final judgment up to the reader.

Mandos in Disc Golf: A Necessary Evil?

Mandos, or mandatory paths that a disc must take, are a contentious topic in disc golf. Some players argue for an increase in mandos, believing that until courses are built specifically for disc golf, mandos are necessary to adapt existing courses to the sport.

What is a Mando?

A Mando, or Mandatory, is a directional obstacle in disc golf that dictates how a player must navigate a hole. This marker can indicate that discs must go past, around, within, over, or under the mandatory marking and can result in a penalty if a player fails to comply. Mandos aren’t used that often, but when they are, they can significantly alter the difficulty of a hole and make rounds quite interesting.

The Pros and Cons of Mandos

Mandos increase the strategic elements of disc golf, forcing players to plan their throws carefully. In addition, they can make the game more challenging and engaging and enhance safety by discouraging risky throws near parking lots, spectators, or cross-traffic from other holes.

However, mandos can also lead to perceived unfairness if they favor certain types of throws or players. In addition, they can make the game more difficult for beginners or casual players, potentially discouraging them from playing. Furthermore, while mandos can adapt existing courses for disc golf, they can also complicate course design and gameplay.

The Role of Mandos in Disc Golf

Mandos are typically used for at least one of three reasons:

  1. To discourage players from taking a route that puts people or property in danger.
  2. To discourage players from taking a route with a high chance of causing back-ups on a hole.
  3. To add difficulty or diversity to a course.

The Verdict

While mandos are a standard part of disc golf, they are also a bit contentious. Some people are philosophically opposed to mandos and believe designers and TDs should create holes that more naturally cause players to throw a variety of shot shapes and avoid endangering others or property. On the opposite side of that argument are those who see mandos as a tool to create more interesting, safer courses when given limited space or obstacles to work with.

The Case for Hazards Over Out-of-Bounds Areas in Disc Golf

In disc golf, OB areas are sections of the course where a player’s disc is not supposed to land. If a disc lands in an OB area, the player incurs a penalty and must play their next shot from a designated drop zone. On the other hand, hazards also result in a penalty, but the player continues from where their disc landed.

Disc golf professional Simon Lizotte has proposed a radical idea: treat all OB areas as hazards. This change would mean players would incur a penalty throw but would not need to relocate their disc. The potential benefits of this change are significant. First, it would simplify the rules, making the game more accessible to newcomers. It would also maintain the game’s flow, reducing disruptions caused by relocating discs.

However, this proposal is not without its critics. Some argue that OB rules are a traditional element of disc golf that should be preserved. They believe these rules add a level of challenge and strategy that would be lost if all OB areas were treated as hazards. Additionally, there are concerns that this change could make the game too punishing for less experienced players.

Eliminating Drop Zones in Disc Golf: A Step Forward or Backward?

Drop zones are designated areas where players can relocate their disc after it goes out of bounds or misses a mando target. However, Simon Lizotte’s suggestion to eliminate drop zones has sparked a debate within the disc golf community.

Lizotte argues that eliminating drop zones could simplify and maintain the game’s flow. According to him, players should play their disc where it lies with a stroke penalty, a rule that could add an extra layer of challenge to the game. This change would require players to be more careful with their throws, as any mistake could lead to penalties, thus raising the stakes and potentially making the game more exciting.

Despite Lizotte’s compelling argument, it’s essential to consider drop zones’ benefits to disc golf. Drop zones provide a fair and consistent way to handle out-of-bounds throws or missed mandos. They act as a safety net, ensuring that a single mistake doesn’t put a player at a significant disadvantage. This is especially important for beginners, who are still learning the ropes and might find the game frustrating if every mistake leads to a severe penalty.

Simon Lizotte’s suggestions for disc golf spark an interesting debate about the future of the sport. While his ideas could make the game more challenging and strategic, they could also make it more difficult and potentially less accessible for beginners. As disc golf continues to grow and evolve, it’s crucial to strike a balance between maintaining the sport’s traditional elements and making changes that enhance its strategic depth and accessibility.

Ultimately, the best course of action may be considering these suggestions not as absolute changes but as potential tools for enhancing the game. For example, course designers and tournament directors could use more mandos, treat more OB areas as hazards, or eliminate drop zones as they see fit based on their courses’ specific needs and challenges. This approach would allow for flexibility and adaptability, ensuring that disc golf continues to be a fun, challenging, and accessible sport for players of all skill levels.

As the sport of disc golf continues to grow and evolve, it’s important to keep these conversations going. By debating the pros and cons of different rules and course design elements, we can continue to refine and improve the game. Whether you agree with Simon Lizotte’s suggestions, his post is a valuable starting point for these discussions. Ultimately, the future of disc golf will be shaped by the players, course designers, and fans who care passionately about the sport. So, what kind of disc golf do you want to see? The decision is in your hands.

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