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How to Play from the Fringe in Golf

The fringe on a golf course refers to the short grass that separates the putting green from the long grass in the rough. There are far worse places for your ball to end up on a golf course, but there are some unique challenges that come with playing a shot from the fringe. This guide has you covered.

Rules from the Fringe

The first thing to note with a shot from the fringe is the set of rules you need to know. Even if you’re only inches away from the putting surface, if your ball is resting on the fringe, the same rules apply as if it were in the fairway. That is, you can’t mark your ball on the fringe, even if you’re using your putter on the shot.

Other basic rules include:

  • You’re allowed to remove loose impediments: You can remove any loose impediment (leaves, rocks, etc.) from the line of your shot, or from around your ball, as long as you don’t move your ball by removing the impediment.
  • You cannot improve your lie in any way: This includes pushing down the grass behind your ball, which essentially “tees up” your next shot.
  • The flagstick may be left in the cup if you prefer: Unlike when putting on the green, removing the flagstick before your ball hits the bottom of the cup is your choice from the fringe.

Strategies from the Fringe

Playing from the fringe can be different every time you do it, so there’s no one correct way to hit these shots.

Based on the distance to the cup and the lie of your golf ball, there are a number of effective ways to get your ball from the fringe to the hole.

Here are some of the most common strategies you’ll use from the fringe, and when each one is most helpful:

Using Your Putter

If your ball is barely off of the green and the fringe is cut short, using your putter is probably the best way to go. Depending on the length and amount of fringe you have to putt over, you can be a bit more aggressive with your putt than you’d be from the green.

Chipping with a Wedge

If you don’t have a lot of green to work with (if there isn’t a lot of space between your ball and the pin) and the fringe is a bit heavier than you’d what like to putt through, your best bet might be to chip with a high-lofted wedge. You’ll essentially pop the ball up, let it fly over the danger, and watch it hit the green and quickly stop rolling.

Chipping with an Iron

If you do have some green to work with, but you still want to pop the ball over some heavy fringe, try using your same ship shot, only with a lower lofted club. Use a five iron, for instance, to chip over the fringe, and watch the ball roll toward the hole.

Putting with a Fairway Metal or Hybrid

Sometimes, your ball can be resting on the far edge of the fringe, right up against the tall grass of the rough. If that’s the case, it’s a lot harder to have a backswing with your putter, wedges, or irons due to their shapes.

What many experienced golfers do in these situations is use a fairway metal or a hybrid club as a putter. The rounded shape of these clubs takes out a lot of the problem of the tall grass behind your ball. Put a normal putting stroke on the ball using one of these clubs, and you’ll get the roll you’re looking for.


Hitting from the fringe comes into play a lot during a round of golf. The best way to know which strategy works best in each type of scenario is by practicing different types of shots from the fringe before you go out and play. Put in the time, be creative, and have fun. The fringe won’t be a problem for you.

On a golf course, the fringe separates the putting greens from the rough. Play your best shots from the fringe with these tips in mind.
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