What Is the 'Fringe' on a Golf Course?

Justin Spieth's golf ball is on the fringe of the putting green during the 2014 Ryder Cup
Justin Spieth eyes his golf ball sitting on the fringe during a Ryder Cup match. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In golf, "Fringe" refers to any grass adjoining the putting surface that is mowed to a height only slightly higher than the grass on the putting green — a height typically about halfway between green and fairway heights.

"Fringe" can be used a synonym for either apron or collar, but is most commonly used in the sense of collar; colloquially it is also often referred to as "frog hair."

Because the grass in the fringe is mowed pretty low, many golfers choose to putt when their golf ball stops on the fringe. How much grass the golfer has to putt through determines how much harder that golfer needs to strike the putt because the ball will roll slower since the fringe grass is higher than the putting green grass.

Alternatively, the golfer could consider chipping from the fringe instead, launching the ball up in the air slightly to avoid slowing down in the fringe grass, but precision is key for this type of play.

Is the Fringe Part of a Green or a Separate Thing?

The fringe is not part of the putting green; it is a separate part of the course unto itself. Think of fringe as a ring around a putting green that is a sort of buffer between the green and the higher rough outside of the green.

The putting surface has very closely mowed grass, but the fringe is a bit higher while still cut low and well-maintained, and beyond that is the unkempt rough (or, in front of the green, fairway-height grass).

Because the fringe is not part of the green, golfers are not allowed to mark, lift, clean and replace their golf ball on the fringe as is allowed on the green. The fringe is like any other part of the golf course, other than the green, as far as the rules are concerned.

Strokes From the Green and Putting Statistics

Many professional and amateur golfers alike enjoy tracking their personal putting and stroke statistics, especially when practicing on the same course, but it might be confusing to some less experienced golfers to determine how to record putts made from the fringe.

If a player's ball stops on the fringe, which is separate from the green, but the player then uses his or her putter to putt his or her ball across the fringe onto the green, it does not count as putt for the purposes of stat tracking.

This is because, as far as professionals are concerned, the putting green is the only place from which traditional putts can be made. The rest are strokes, whether or not the player chooses to roll the ball along the fringe surface or not.