Rules Clinic – Throwing from a Stance (802.04)

Important Rules That are Often Overlooked
Rule 802.04 Throwing From A Stance

It is something that, unless you get a hole in one, you have to do on every hole on the course: throwing from a marked lie in the fairway.  It is also something that, until you decide to play in a competitive event, is an easy thing to not be concerned with as you play.

Best to start with defining what exactly a lie is before explaining how to play from it.  To do that requires venturing into the Definitions section of the rule book (800.02) for a very key term:


Without that definition, there’s a whole lot of the rule that doesn’t make much sense.  Now that we know what the line of play (LOP) is, we can look one entry up in 800.02 to find lie defined as follows:

The spot on the playing surface behind the marker, upon which the player takes a stance in accordance with the rules. It is a line 30 centimeters in length extending back along the line of play from the rear edge of the marker disc. The lie for the first throw on a hole is the teeing area. A drop zone is also a lie.

Definitions now in mind, we can jump into the rule at hand, 802.04 Throwing from a Stance, and break it down piece by piece.

A. A player must choose the stance that will result in the least movement of any part of any obstacle that is a permanent or integral part of the course. Once a legal stance is taken, the player may not move an obstacle in any way in order to make room for a throwing motion. It is legal for a player’s throwing motion to cause incidental movement of an obstacle.

The essence of this rule is that players are required to take a stance that does as little as possible to alter the course as it exists.  If a throw comes to rest in a bush or under a tree, the player is not allowed to bend or break branches for the purpose of clearing an area to make a throw.

That means that if laying down to gain access to a lie is only way to take a stance without disrupting an obstacle, that is what is required.  Every player is entitled to a legal stance, but not necessarily the ideal or preferred stance.

B. When the disc is released, a player must:

  1. Have at least one supporting point that is in contact with the lie; and,
  2. Have no supporting point in contact with the marker disc or any object (including the playing surface) closer to the target than the rear edge of the marker disc; and,
  3. Have all supporting points in-bounds.

This is the crux of the stance rule.  Above all else, this is the key entry in the rule.  Part one is having at least one supporting point in contact with the lie.  That is that on the 30 cm section of the line of play directly behind the disc, the player must have a supporting point in contact.  That point can be a foot, knee, hand, elbow, even their head if so inclined.

rule802.04-stance-liePart two has more to do with the supporting points outside the one on the lie (though that point can not be contacting or extending in front of the rear edge of the disc).  Those points can be anywhere as long as they are not making contact somewhere closer to the target than the rear edge of the marker.  Bear in mind that the border of what is closer and what is not is defined by an arc (see below).  As long as everything is behind that arc at the moment of release, it is in a legal position.

rule802.04-stance-footingC. Supporting point contact with or beyond the marker disc is permitted after the disc is released, except when putting.

After release, where any of the player’s supporting points go is largely inconsequential.  Following through with the natural motion of your throw is allowed with one significant exception…

D. Putting: Any throw from within 10 meters of the target, as measured from the rear of the marker disc to the base of the target, is a putt. Supporting point contact closer to the target than the rear edge of the marker disc after the disc has been released is a stance violation. The player must demonstrate full control of balance before advancing toward the target.

Here is the trickiest part of the entire stance rule.  When the lie is within 10 meters (approximately 32.8 feet), following through after the throw is against the rules.  To avoid the follow through, the player must demonstrate balance before making contact with anything closer to the target than the rear edge of the disc.

vfv791[1]Visualizing the above diagram is a great way to remember these stance rules whether in the fairway or putting.  At the time of release, no supporting points should be in contact in the blue area.  And when putting, no supporting points should be in contact in the blue area after release until full control of balance has been established.

E. A player shall receive a warning for the first stance violation in the round. Subsequent stance violations in the same round shall incur a one-throw penalty. Stance violations may not be called or seconded by the thrower.

Any player in the group may call another on a stance violation when one occurs.  The call must be made promptly, typically before the result of the throw is known.  Per rule 801.01 D through F, in the case of the first violation of the round, only one call is necessary.  For any subsequent violations during the same round, two players must both make the call for it to stand and a penalty to be applied.  The thrower can not make or second a call on himself.

F. Any throw made from an illegal stance is disregarded. A re-throw must be taken from the original lie, prior to subsequent play by others in the group.

Regardless of whether it is the first violation (just a warning) or a subsequent violation (incurring a penalty), the resulting throw is not used.  All violations of the stance rules require a re-throw from the same lie.

That’s it.  A rather simple rule that is at the heart of fair competitive play. The spirit of the game is to play the disc as it lies, and this rule is how we ensure exactly what “as it lies” means.  With a bit of practice, complying with it becomes almost second nature.