The Putting Green's Apron

man in white tshirt playing golf
(Nathan Nedley/

On a golf course, an "apron" is an area of grass in front of some putting greens where the fairway transitions into the putting green, which is typically cut to a height that is slightly lower than that of the fairway but slightly higher than that of the green.

An apron is a design choice on golf courses, which is to say it is something that the golf course architect or the golf course superintendent chooses to put in play — or not; so an apron may or may not be present in front of any given putting green depending on the course.

Oftentimes, a golfer's second shot on a par-3 hole or third shot on a par-4 will stop just short of the putting green, landing in this slightly more difficult grass, and the player may choose to either putt the ball straight from the slightly rougher surface or clip it up briefly where it will hopefully bounce and roll across the green towards or into the hole.

Official Rules Concerning Playing from the Apron

When an apron is present on a golf course, the PGA Tour has a few official rules that govern play from it, as well as a few guidelines to follow when keeping track of player stats in terms of stroke types like putts, drives, and clips.

As a standard, players may pick up, mark, clean, and replace their ball on the putting green, but this is not the case when a ball lies in the apron or fringe of the fairway and putting green. In this case, a player must play his or her ball from its lie, though he or she may choose to putt it or to clip it up as described above.

In terms of keeping track of personal statistics concerning stroke counts and performance, the PGA recommends that players not count strokes made from the apron as putts, even if the stroke in question uses a putter and the ball rolls smoothly across the apron, onto the green, and into the hole — this would still count as a fairway stroke, mostly because it is not a rule that golf courses must have aprons.

Challenges Associated with Golf Apron

Although the grass on the apron is well maintained, certainly more than that of the rough, it is still a bit taller and thus provided more cushion and bounce to a player's ball when in attempting to hit it toward the hole.

The slightly denser grass of the apron also makes it more difficult for the ball to roll smoothly along a straight line toward the hole as thick clumps of grass might misdirect the arch away from the intended goal.

Still, professionals and amateurs alike often putt the ball from the fringe when it is close enough to the putting green, while some others clip the ball up slightly, hoping the initial bounce on the putting green keeps the ball in motion, straight into the hole.