What is a Gimme in Golf? Master the Essential Guide for Players

In the world of golf, a term that often stirs up conversation is ‘gimme.’ This term, with roots in casual play, has an essential role yet sparks controversy. A brief understanding of what a gimme in golf is can shed light on its importance and the debate surrounding it. Delving into this concept not only enriches your knowledge of golf but also adds another layer to appreciating this intricate sport.

Etiquette and Rules of Gimme Putts

Unwritten Rules in Golf

Golf has unwritten rules about gimmes. A gimme is when a player picks up their ball instead of putting it into the hole. This happens when the ball is very close to the hole.

  • Other players must agree before you can take a gimme.
  • It’s not an official rule, but golfers do it out of courtesy.

Sportsmanship and Gimme

Sportsmanship plays a big part in gimmes. Being kind on the green means sometimes giving your opponent a break.

  • If your opponent had a tough shot, you might give them a gimme.
  • Remember, golf is just as much about being nice as it is about winning!

Distance and Gimme Decision

The distance from the hole affects whether or not you get a gimme. The closer you are to the hole, the more likely you’ll get one.

  • Most golfers agree that anything within two feet of the hole can be a gimme.
  • But remember, all players have to agree first!

Official Rules vs Common Practice

Officially, there are no gimmes in golf. But among friends, they’re often given as an act of kindness.

  • The USGA doesn’t recognize gimmes in official play.
  • In casual games though, they’re pretty common!

Role of Handicaps in Determining Gimmes

The Influence of Handicaps on Gimmes

Handicaps play a big role in golf. They help level the playing field.

  • Higher handicap? You might get more gimmes.
  • Lower handicap? Fewer gimmes for you.

It’s all about keeping things fair.

The Correlation Between Handicaps and Gimmes

Stats show a clear link between handicaps and gimmes.

  • High handicappers often receive more gimme putts.
  • Low handicappers, not so much.

This pattern is common in friendly games.

Impact of Player Skill Level on Gimme Decisions

Skill level matters too. It influences handicap-based decisions for gimmes.

  • Skilled players with low handicaps rarely need them.
  • Less skilled players with high handicaps may rely on them more.

Remember, it’s not about taking advantage, but balancing the game.

Knowing When to Grant a Handicap-Based Gimme

Granting a gimme isn’t just random. There are unwritten rules to follow.

  • Is the putt short enough?
  • Is the player’s handicap high?

If yes, then a gimme might be appropriate. But remember, golf is also about sportsmanship!

Scratch Players’ Influence on Gimmes

Scratch Players and Gimme Concept

Scratch players are top-tier golfers. They usually have a different take on what is a gimme in golf. Their approach is more strict.

For example, they may only consider putts within one foot as gimmies. Anything longer needs to be played out.

Impact of Skills on Gimme Length

Putting Skills and Gimme Length

Golf is a tricky game. Your putting skills can impact the length for a given ‘gimme’. The better you are at putting, the longer your ‘gimme’ range becomes. It’s like having a secret weapon in your bag.

For example, if you’re good at short putts, you might have a ‘gimme’ range of 3 feet. But if you’re great at long putts, your ‘gimme’ could be up to 5 feet!

Improving Skills Affects Gimme Range

Want to increase your ‘gimme’ range? Improve your skills! Practice makes perfect in golf. The more you practice, the better you get.

Take Tiger Woods as an example. He didn’t become a golf legend overnight. He practiced relentlessly and improved his skills over time.

Skilled Golfers and Longer Gimmes

But wait! Even skilled golfers may refuse longer ‘gimmes’. Why? They love challenges and don’t want easy wins.

Imagine playing against Rory McIlroy. Would he accept a 5-foot gimme? Probably not! He’d rather prove his skill by making the putt himself.

Skill Level Dictates Acceptance or Refusal?

So does skill level dictate acceptance or refusal of gimmes? Not always. Some players might feel confident with long gimmes while others prefer to play it safe.

Remember Phil Mickelson’s famous quote: “The object of golf is not just to win. It is to play like a gentleman (or gentlewoman), and play by the rules.” This includes deciding on what length constitutes a fair ‘gimme’.

Uphill, Straight Threefooter as a Gimme?

What Makes it a Gimme

An uphill, straight three-footer is often considered a ‘gimme’ by some golfers. Why? Two reasons. First, it’s short. Second, the ball’s path is straight.

  • Short distance: The closer to the hole, the higher your chances of sinking the putt.
  • Straight path: No curves or bends means less guesswork and more accuracy.

But remember, this isn’t always true for everyone.

Match Play Golf Rules: Gimmes’ Context

Gimmes in Match Play Rules

In golf, a “gimme” is when a player’s ball is so close to the hole, others say it’s okay not to putt. It’s like saying, “We believe you’d make that shot.” But remember, gimmes are not part of official golf rules. They’re more common in casual games.

Strategy of Giving or Denying Gimmes

Gimmes can be strategic in match play. For example, granting an opponent a gimme might give them confidence. But denying one could shake their game. It’s all about knowing when to use this tool.

  • Example: If your opponent struggles with short putts, deny the gimme!

Sportsmanship and Gimmes

Good sportsmanship is key in golf. This includes how we handle gimmes. If your opponent has had a tough round, granting a gimme can show respect.

  • Case Study: In the 1969 Ryder Cup, Jack Nicklaus granted Tony Jacklin a crucial gimme. It ended the match in a tie – an iconic moment of sportsmanship!

Granting Gimmes in Competitive Scenarios

In competitive scenarios, deciding on gimmes can be tricky. As per unwritten rule, if it’s within the leather (the length from your putter’s head to its grip), it’s typically considered a “gimme”. However, always consider factors like game context and player performance.

Comprehensive Understanding of Gimmes

Understanding gimmes is pivotal for any golf player. This practice, deeply rooted in the etiquette of the game, can significantly impact your scoring and handicap. It’s crucial to remember that factors such as skill level, match play rules, and even the type of putt can influence when a gimme is granted.

With this knowledge at hand, golfers can navigate their games with more confidence and strategic insight. Whether you’re a scratch player or just starting out, understanding gimmes will undoubtedly enhance your golfing experience. So why wait? Grab your clubs and put this newfound knowledge into practice on the green!


What is a gimme in golf?

‘gimme’ in golf refers to a shot so close to the hole that it’s assumed the player would have made it. The other players agree to count it without actually playing the stroke.

How does a handicap affect gimmes?

Handicaps play a significant role in determining gimmes. Higher-handicap players are generally allowed longer gimmes than lower-handicap players due to their perceived lesser ability.

Who decides if a putt is a gimme?

In casual play, it’s usually up to either individual agreement between players or group consensus. In official tournament play, however, there are no ‘gimmes’.

Can all putts be considered as gimmes?

No, not all putts can be considered as gimmes. The decision often depends on factors like skill level and course conditions.

Do professional golfers use ‘gimmes’?

In professional tournaments and official matches, there are no ‘gimmes’. Every stroke must be played until the ball reaches the hole.

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