Marking a Lie
803.03 Marking the Lie
This is the next in our series of our Rules School discussions on the current rules last updated in 2006. A section of the written rule will be shown in blue text followed by discussion and diagrams to illustrate the concepts.
803.03A. After each throw, the thrown disc must be left where it came to rest until the lie is established by the placing of a marker. This can be done by placing a mini marker disc on the playing surface between the hole and the disc, directly in line with the hole, on the line of play, touching the thrown disc.
This seems straightforward, and most of time, our disc will land flat on the playing surface, even if sometimes it's upside down. Although it's not stated, placing the mini so it touches the thrown disc is only required, and can only be done, when the front edge or rim of the disc is essentially flat on the playing surface. Otherwise, read below in section 803.03B on how to mark the lie when the edge/rim closest to the hole is not touching the playing surface.
Doglegs and mandatories add some confusion on where to mark the lie. On heavily wooded doglegs, the player and group should make their best effort to determine the "Line of Play" (LOP). The LOP is the direct line from the thrown disc toward the target, even if it can't be seen and there's no way to throw that line thru the woods. This sometimes leads to the odd look where the player stands beside their mini to take a stance for the next throw because they have to throw in a direction 45 degrees from the line to the target to follow the actual cleared fairway (see drawing).
If there's a mandatory, the LOP goes from the thrown disc toward the closest point on the mandatory, even if that isn't toward the hole (see Mandatories rule 803.12 and future Rules School on Mandatories).
803.03A (cont.) A player may instead choose, without touching or repositioning the thrown disc, to use the thrown disc as the marker. The marker may not be moved until the throw is released. A marker inadvertently moved prior to the throw shall be returned to its correct location.
This option was proposed by Board member, Mark Ellis, tested at the 1999 Pro Worlds in Rochester, NY to speed play, and it worked. So, this option for a player to use their thrown disc as the marker on almost every throw made it into the 2002 PDGA Official Rules of Play. To use the thrown disc as the marker, the back edge/rim of the thrown disc cannot be repositioned (such as within 1 meter of OB) and must be on the playing surface the player plans to stand on for their next throw (in the event there are stacked playing surfaces). Otherwise, the disc must be marked using a mini as described elsewhere in this rule.
Note that the player does not slide the disc forward so the back edge is where the front edge is located to reproduce where the mini would be placed. The player actually takes a stance that will be farther from the hole by the width of the thrown disc. This can be a strategic choice when close to trees or bushes where using the thrown disc instead of using a mini gives the player a little more room to throw. No, the player may not replace the thrown disc with another disc from their bag so they can throw that disc again. If a player MUST use the thrown disc again, they are forced to mark it with a mini.
803.03B. A player is only required to mark the lie with a mini marker disc when repositioning the lie under the rules. This includes the following rules: out-of-bounds, disc above the playing surface, lost disc, unplayable lie, relocated for relief, interference, or repositioning the lie within 1 meter of the out-of-bounds line.
While it's technically possible to make it through a round without ever needing to use a mini (especially recreational rounds), it's highly recommended that a player carry a mini (or two or three) because several of these situations listed can occur during a round, especially on certain courses. Even if it makes sense that a player should be able to pull another regular disc out of their bag and use it as a marker sometimes, it's currently not allowed in sanctioned play. Likewise, the tradition of flipping your thrown disc over toward the hole to use as a marker is not allowed for sanctioned play.
A "disc above the playing surface" is the only one listed above where the current position of the thrown disc itself is used as the reference for where to place the mini. The mini is placed on the playing surface with its back edge lining up vertically with whatever edge of the thrown disc is closest to the hole (or on the line of play in the case of a mandatory).
When the thrown disc is far up in the air, the mini is placed based on the best estimate the player and group can make for the location of its front edge (see diagrams).
A recent question surfaced on how to mark the lie with a mini when the edge of the disc closet to the hole is either embedded below the playing surface when it has penetrated soft ground, or it's under the playing surface in some other unusual position such as partially under a rock or maybe under a deck where the TD has indicated that the player may mark and play from the deck if the disc lands under it. This situation isn't specifically stated in this rule. But the precedent in the previous paragraph for a disc suspended above the playing surface would indicate that the back edge of the mini would again be placed on the playing surface lined up vertically with the edge of the thrown disc closest to the hole, even if that edge happens to currently be under the playing surface (see diagram).
803.03C. If the thrown disc comes to rest in-bounds but within one meter of an out-of-bounds line, the lie may be relocated to any point on a one-meter line that extends perpendicularly from the nearest point on the out-of-bounds line, and passes through the center of the thrown disc. This holds true even if the direction takes the lie closer to the hole.
This option is misunderstood by many and sometimes is seen as cheating when they first see it done. However, the player is allowed to mark their throw with a mini toward or away from the OB line up to one meter, even when their thrown disc lands inbounds within one meter of the OB line and even if it moves the lie closer to the hole (see diagram).
Most people understand that this is one way to mark your lie after going OB at a certain spot. But this same option exists when landing inbounds within one meter of OB. The main reason this is allowed is to provide room for a player to take their stance with both feet, or for that matter any parts of their body touching the ground, to be inbounds when their next throw is released.
803.03C (cont.) See the following sections for other considerations in marking a thrown disc: (1) Relocated for relief - 803.05 C (2); (2) Interference - 803.07 A, B; (3) Above the playing surface - 803.08 A; (4) Out-of-Bounds - 803.09 B; (5) Lost Disc- 803.11 B
These will be covered in future Rules School segments on these topics.
803.03D. The Rule of Verticality: The out-of-bounds line represents a vertical plane. Where a player's lie is marked from a particular point within one meter of the out-of-bounds line pursuant to the rules, the one-meter relief may be taken from the particular point upward or downward along the vertical plane.
This concept can best be represented with the accompanying diagram. It's not uncommon for slopes to be near OB lines, especially near bodies of water. The verticality concept allows players to mark a little farther away from the OB line than a one meter distance measured along the slope. For example, the length along a slope at a 45 degree angle will be 1.4 meters from the OB line when the horizontal distance to a vertical plane from the OB line is exactly 1 meter. This can provide just a little more relief for the player to take their next stance.
803.03E. If the thrown disc breaks and comes to rest in more than one piece, the largest piece, as agreed to by a majority of the group or an official, is deemed to be the thrown disc.
This largest piece as agreed upon by the group must be marked with a mini. The broken piece cannot be used as the marker (since the line of play may sometimes not pass thru the point on the piece that's farthest from the hole). If it appears there are more than one piece that might be the largest, temporarily mark those larger pieces with minis so the pieces can be picked up and compared if necessary to determine the largest one. If the group cannot decide which is the largest, benefit of the doubt goes to the thrower.
Note that if the largest piece is OB and the other pieces are inbounds, the player still gets the OB penalty. Likewise, if the largest piece is suspended by or in the basket, the player can hole out simply by removing that piece, even if the other pieces are scattered on the ground. Only the OB/IB status and vertical location of the largest piece matters.
803.03F. A disc thrown in water shall be deemed to be at rest once it is floating or is moving only by the action of the water or the wind on the water.
This can sometimes be a tough call to make especially when the disc lands in moving water. The potential disagreements usually revolve around whether the disc is currently touching inbounds on the edge of the OB water or at least touched inbounds on the edge of the OB water on its own momentum or whether the water swept it over to the bank after the disc had already lost energy from the throw. The benefit of the doubt goes to the player if the group is uncertain where a disc landed in the water near the edge of OB since many times it will not be seen from a distance.
803.03G. A player shall receive a warning for the first violation of a marking rule if observed by two or more players of the group or an official. One penalty throw shall be assessed for each subsequent violation of any marking rule during the round if observed by two or more players of the group or an official.
Typically, this can occur right by the basket when a player picks up their thrown disc and drops it in, forgetting to mark it before doing so. Another one you might see that hopefully the group can catch before the player receives a marking warning is when a player wants to use their thrown disc but not mark it with a mini. They take another disc from their bag and either place it in front of the thrown disc like a mini or even slip it under their thrown disc in the same position so they can then pick up their thrown disc thinking that's allowed. Neither option is allowed.