Putting from the fringe may honestly one of my absolute favorite topics when it comes to putting.
First of all because I just love the idea of putting from off of the green. It’s something that I’ve embraced more and more over the years and it has definitely had a positive impact on my game. I also really enjoy discussing this topic because I feel like there are so many misconceptions about what you ”can and cannot do” on the golf course and putting from the fringe sometimes falls into the ”cannot do” column.
So let’s start by making something clear; you don’t have to pick up a wedge just because your ball isn’t on the green. Being off of the green – on the fringe or on the rough – does not mean that you cannot use your putter.
If you want to use your wedge and hit a chip shot when you’re off the green, you can of course absolutely do so. There is nothing wrong with either of the choices; a wedge or the putter. My point here is that you shouldn’t feel as if you need to hit a certain shot just because of the situation that you’re in. As with everything in golf, do what feels best for you and what you’re the most comfortable with. That’s how you’ll get the best results. From personal experience, I would say that I sincerely believe that a lot of golf players could benefit from choosing the putter from the fringe every now and then.
Here is a question that I will ask myself when I’m in a position where I need to choose between using a wedge or the putter: if I were to hit this shot twice – one chip and one putt – and they both turn out to be the worst imaginable shots I could’ve possibly hit, then what result is most likely to be the closest to the hole? Which one of them is generally a more sure bet?
For me, the answer to that question is almost always the putt. For others, it might be the chip. And that is totally okay! I just think it’s important to emphasize that you can use the putter from the fringe and sometimes even from the rough. Especially if you’re a consistently better putter than chipper, then why wouldn’t you use your putter more often?
Like I said before I think a lot of this stems from the misconceptions of what is the ”correct” shot to hit in certain situations on the golf course. There were so many times in college where I was the only one in, say, my team or my group at a tournament, who would choose the putter from the fringe, and sometimes even from the rough. Sometimes that decision might have been looked upon as a bit odd or as a less optimal club choice. But at the end of the day, if using the putter from off the green is a consistent way for me to get the ball up and down, then that’s really all that matters. When I started understanding this and I started using my putter off the green on a more consistent basis, I became more confident around the greens and took away the pressure and stress of feeling like I had to hit a chip shot that I wasn’t very comfortable with, knowing that I could simply pick up the putter instead. With putting being my biggest strength in my game I now probably putt from the fringe 9/10 times – the exception is typically when there’s a sprinkler or some other mark or damage to the fringe that I simply can’t putt through.
I hope this can serve as a little reminder to do what’s best for you. When you are comfortable and confident in the club that you choose in a certain situation off the green, whether that’s a wedge or the putter, then that’s when you will get the best results. Don’t try to force anything because you feel like you have to and because that’s the ”correct” thing to do. Want to putt from the rough? Want to putt from the middle of the fairway 10m (30ft) off the green? Want to putt up the hill of an elevated green rather than fly it up there with a wedge? Well if that’s what you want to do, then just go for it.