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What is Standing Astride in Golf?

front foot standing astride golf

My least favorite part of golf is the rules.

It’s not that I am an anti-establishment rebel looking to “stick it to the man”. Many rules are unnecessary and confusing for the average golfer. One of our readers was unable to find the solid bible of golf rules and asked us what standing astride is in golf.

This is a great question as it is a rule rarely discussed. This post will explain what standing astride in golf is and the consequences for breaking this rule. I also highlight the situations in which you are exempted from a penalty stroke for standing astride.


Table of Contents

  • What does Standing Astride mean in Golf?
  • The “Consequences” of Standing Astride
  • Is it OK to Stand Astride?
  • How can I avoid standing astride?

What does it mean to be a “Standing Astride” in golf?

Merriman-Webster defines standing on one side and one leg on the other. For example, if you ride a horse, or a bicycle, you place one leg on each side. This means that you stand astride.

USGA rule 10.1cIf one or both of your feet touch the line, it is prohibited to make a stroke. For example, your front foot should be on the line of a putt to guide your ball towards the flagstick (pictured above). 

front foot standing astride golf

Your trailing foot must not touch the line even if it is behind the ball (pictured above).

trail foot standing astride golf

Finally, here’s an example of both feet standing astride:

both feet standing astride golf

Your feet should be parallel to the line, and your feet should never touch it.

I have only seen golfers standing astride a few times in my 28 years of experience. Most often, they were trying not to step on the line of a potential putt.

Because this is the most likely place where this violation of rule could occur, I used the putting green example. However, my compatriot Dylan FrittelliMade the unintentional mistake of standing astride during the 2022 RBC heritage.

Frittelli’s ball was captured by moss hanging from a tree 6-feet off the ground. The South African’s caddie handed him a wood, and he lifted it to the trees for his second shot on the par 4 6th hole. His stance was the culprit. 

Dylan stood directly behind it, creating an extension. He then threw the ball out of the tree onto the fairway, scoring a regulation par.

The PGA Tour officials deemed the violation of rule 10.1c a violation and penalized him accordingly. The following section outlines the penalties.


The “Consequences” of Standing Astride

The USGA states that violating Rule 10.1 will result in a General Penalty. Apart from standing astride Rule 10.1 also covers the movement of a ball, anchoring clubs and fairly striking the ball.

The consequences of standing astride will depend on the format for the round. In Dylan Frittelli’s scenario, he was playing in a stroke play tournament. He was therefore assessed a 2-shot penalty. His ball fell into the cup for a Par 4, and he ended up with a double-bogey 6.

Offenders who violate match play are subject to more severe penalties. Violation of rule 10.1c can result in the loss of the hole. In other words, if the incident occurs, you will win the hole.

This rule is enforced in tournament play. Unless you want to end your buddy, it is very rare for playing partners not to penalize players in casual rounds. When you get to the big leagues, it is important to be fair and follow the rules. 


Is it OK to Stand Astride?

One thing I learned in law school is that there is no black and white when it comes to interpreting legislation. The USGA makes it easy for us by clearly stating that standing astride in certain circumstances is allowed. This entails avoiding the prospective line of a player’s putt, or accidentally standing astride.

Avoid Another Player’s Line

I have read numerous posts about stories of golfers losing holes in match play for standing astride. Many articles suggest that a player may be penalized for standing astride in an attempt to avoid stepping in front of their opponent.

If true, these stories may actually be the victims. Under rule 10.1c, the USGA makes a provision annulling penalty strokes for players avoiding a player’s line. This is a courtesy act and should not be punished.


How can I avoid standing astride?

Standing astride is one the easiest rules of golf. Your feet should be parallel to the target line. If you are unsure of your stance, take a step back and address the ball using your standard setup.