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Amen Corner: Putter from the fringe? Why not?

  • There's nothing wrong with using a putter from just off the green when a chip shot might work. But there are variables to consider in both situations. (Courtesy photograph)

Special to the Valley News
Published: 7/17/2019 10:19:39 PM
Modified: 7/17/2019 10:19:31 PM

I’m often asked the following question: “Is it OK to putt when my ball is off the green?” 

And my answer is, “Heck, yeah! Go for it. If the voice inside your head says you would rather putt, you should listen. It’s speaking with confidence.”

Using a putter from just off the green, or from chipping distance, can often be the most consistent club with which a golfer can strike the ball. The goal is to advance the ball and have it stop as close the hole as possible. 

If the putter gives you the most confidence to advance the ball toward the hole, then it’s likely the best choice for the job. In addition, the missed shot with a putter will probably be far less penalizing than a miss with a wedge or short iron.

The reason against using a putter to chip is it’s difficult to get an accurate read of how much the ball will slow down when rolling over the fringe area. The overall feel for how hard to hit the ball when putting is affected. Therefore, the consistency of getting it close would be affected as well.

However, if your miss when chipping is chunked shots short and skulled shots way too long, then the putter may be the answer for you.

The more skilled you are with chipping, the more a lofted club is to your advantage for this shot. A chip will hit the ball over the longer fringe grass and roll entirely on the consistent carpet of the green, providing consistency and predictability.

Next time you’re faced with the decision of chipping or putting from the fringe, isten to your inside voice. Select the shot that gives you more confidence.

Peter Harris is the director of Golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column appears weekly in the Recreation page during the golf season.

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