801.02 F. All discs used in play, except mini marker discs, must be uniquely marked. A player shall receive a warning for the first instance of throwing an unmarked disc. Each subsequent throw by the player with an unmarked disc shall incur one penalty throw.
To summarize the entire rule, and all its parts: any disc you use in a sanctioned tournament HAS to be approved by the PDGA Technical Standards, any disc modification that alters its flight characteristics (outside of general wear & tear) is illegal, and any disc that shows such wear as cracks/perforations/etc. are illegal. Every disc has to have a ‘unique marking’ on it, or it’s illegal.
During the third round of this year’s Professional Worlds tournament, both Ricky Wysocki and Devan Owens ran into some trouble regarding this rule when they each threw matching stock stamped Fuzion Defenders off the tee. On top of the reigning champion mentioning the unmarked discs, and waiting on the PDGA Marshal to make the call, the twin discs provided some avoidable confusion as to whose was whose down the fairway.
This general disc golf rule is not inherently confusing, but when you start asking about ‘what is a unique marking?’ then several rabbit holes open up as to what qualifies. In professional events, there are many players who throw the same discs, sometimes the same color disc (ex: Devan and Ricky). These discs, by default, come with the same stamp out of the factory, so that stamp being considered a ‘unique marking’ is null and void. For most players, especially us amateurs who don’t have sponsorships, placing our names on the bottom in case we pond-it/lose it in foliage, is a type of unique marking (it also doubles as a chance to maybe see our disc again). After all, it’s your name, and recognizable by the thrower. Many professional players simply put their PDGA number on the bottom of the disc, and for the pro level player, this is the same as putting your name on it. Either way, these two types of markings are unique to the individual throwing them, and that can be the extent of a unique marking.
Once you start personal dyeing, or drawing a symbol only you can recognize instead of a name/number you may run into issues, but any recognizable mark will do. As long as you can recognize your disc from another player’s that looks exactly the same, the disc is legal. In a sport that is dominated by players with such different, and unique personalities, I find it hard to believe that every pro player cannot think of something to set their plastic apart from another’s in case this unlikely event happens. Ultimately all you have to do is take a sharpie, and put your signature on it. It’s really that easy, and, in this case, the longtime acronym is something to live by: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Pictured above (both top/bottom views) is a blank Fuzion EMAC Truth that was passed around the DD warehouse, and every mark on it is a ‘unique’ mark done by each individual. The same mark that is applied to personal discs they own. It will be added to the DD auction page for a lucky reader to own.