You may never see a mini if all you play are casual rounds. In a non-competitive setting, there isn't much use for one. In a PDGA-sanctioned event, however, the mini is an essential part of the bag. In this article, I'll explain why you must pick one up before your first tournament.
What Is A Mini Disc?
According to the PDGA technical standards, a mini must have a circular shape with a diameter of 7cm to 15cm and a maximum height of 3cm. Many materials, such as plastic, wood, or metal, can be used to manufacture a mini. If you join the PDGA, they will send you a mini as part of a welcome package.
Professional disc golfer Andrew Marwede famously stretched the definition of a mini at the 2021 Ledgestone Open, where he used a cookie to mark his lie. After carding a tough birdie, he picked up his mini-snack and casually took a bite on his way to the basket:
What Are Mini Disc Golf Discs Used For?
Mini discs are used to mark the lie of your disc in sanctioned disc golf tournaments. To properly mark your lie, imagine a direct line from the center of the disc to the basket. This is the “line of play.” Place the mini where the line of play intersects with the front of the disc. Once marked, you can pick up the disc and take a stance from behind the mini. It's that simple.
Do I Have To Use A Mini?
As long as you make a legal throw that lands in bounds, a mini is not required. Rule 802.06 makes it clear that the position of the thrown disc initially marks the lie. You can always save yourself the effort and simply use your thrown disc as a marker.
Read next: 11 Disc Golf Rules For Beginners
However, you always want a mini handy for situations where it can improve your footing. For example, if a disc comes to rest directly in front of a tree, you will need the mini to create space to put your foot. Otherwise, you'll be stuck taking a stance behind the tree.
When Is A Mini Disc Required?
Using the mini is required when the disc goes out of bounds. In this case, the mini is used to mark a legal lie on the playing surface one meter in from the point at which the disc was last in bounds. You cannot pick up the thrown disc and use it to mark the lie. You also cannot use any of the discs in your bag as markers.
Additionally, a mini is necessary when a disc lands next to or on top of the out-of-bounds line. In order to take a legal stance, you will need to place a mini up to a meter in bounds perpendicular to the line of play.
Other Uses For Minis
Mini Disc Golf
Mini disc golf is a niche sport within a niche sport, and it plays exactly as you might expect, with mini teepads, mini targets, on mini holes. There are a few mini-courses, which you can find by searching “mini” on the popular website UDisc.
The Mini World Championships
The 2021 Mini World Championships were held at a series of mini-courses in Pennsylvania. There are a few modified rules for this unsanctioned event; for example, if your mini lands on top of the target, it is considered in the hole.
Maximum Mini Distance
The World Flying Discs Federation is the governing body that sets the parameters of various distance world records, one of which is the furthest throw with a mini. Simon Lizotte holds the current world record of 160.9 meters (528 feet), set on an extremely windy day in the desert outside Primm, Nevada.
One hilarious side note on the mini world records are the age divisions. There are records for every age up to 11, including an “under 1” division, where the world record stands at an adorable 0.43 meters (1.4 feet), thrown by Brinlee Bell in 2016.
I still have the commemorative mini from my first disc golf event and a few interesting ones that have come as part of players' packs from tournaments. Custom wood-carved minis are particularly nice and could be used as gifts for your local club or group of playing partners