What is a Gimme in Golf

Golf is a sport known for its complex rules and etiquettes, and one of the more relaxed aspects of the game is the concept of a “gimme.” In this article, we will explore what a gimme in golf is, how it works, and the role it plays in the sport.

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Definition of a Gimme

A “gimme” in golf refers to a putt that is so short and straightforward that it is conceded by one’s opponent or playing partners without requiring the player to actually make the putt. In other words, it’s a gesture of sportsmanship where the other players agree that the golfer would most likely make the putt if they had to attempt it, so they simply pick up the ball and count it as made without physically putting it into the hole.

Common Situations for Gimmes

Gimmes are typically granted for very short putts, usually within a couple of feet from the hole. Some common situations where gimmes are frequently given include:

  1. Tap-ins: When a golfer has a putt that’s only a few inches away from the hole, it’s almost always conceded as a gimme. These putts are considered virtually impossible to miss.
  2. Courtesy: In casual and friendly rounds of golf, gimmes are often used to speed up play and maintain a relaxed atmosphere. Allowing gimmes helps keep the pace of play brisk.
  3. Preserving Pace: During crowded days on the golf course, gimmes can help prevent bottlenecks on the greens, ensuring that groups move efficiently through the course.
  4. Match Play: In match play, where golfers compete on a hole-by-hole basis, gimmes can be used as a strategic tool. A player may offer a gimme to their opponent to keep the match moving or to maintain a positive rapport.

Notable Considerations

While gimmes are a common practice in informal rounds and among friends, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Agreement: Gimmes should always be agreed upon by all players in the group. It’s crucial to have a consensus on which putts will be conceded and under what circumstances.
  2. Local Rules: Some golf courses may have specific local rules about gimmes. Some might even have designated distances or circumstances where gimmes are permitted, while others might not allow them at all. It’s important to be aware of the course’s rules regarding gimmes.
  3. Tournament Play: In competitive golf, such as stroke play tournaments, gimmes are typically not allowed. Players are required to putt out all their shots, no matter how short they may be. However, in some less formal amateur events, gimmes might be allowed.
  4. Etiquette: It’s essential to apply gimmes consistently and fairly. In some cases, overuse of gimmes can lead to disputes and disrupt the flow of the game. Golfers should use gimmes judiciously to maintain sportsmanship and pace of play.

The Psychology of Gimmes

Beyond their practical purposes, gimmes also offer insight into the psychology of golf. They can be a double-edged sword in terms of player confidence and skill development:

  1. Boosting Confidence: For beginners and high-handicap players, gimmes can be confidence boosters. Knowing that they won’t have to stress over short putts can help them focus on improving their long game and overall performance without the pressure of potential misses.
  2. Skill Development: On the flip side, over-reliance on gimmes can hinder a golfer’s skill development. Those who consistently accept gimmes may neglect practicing short putts, which are fundamental to the game.
  3. Mind Games: Gimmes can also play a part in the mental aspect of golf. Offering a gimme to an opponent can be a strategic move, especially in match play. It can disrupt an opponent’s concentration or test their ego, potentially influencing the outcome of the match.

The Role of Etiquette in Golf

Golf is a sport that places a significant emphasis on etiquette and sportsmanship. The use of gimmes is a prime example of this. Proper golf etiquette involves respecting the pace of play, acknowledging good shots, and adhering to the rules. Gimmes, when used appropriately, contribute to the overall positive experience on the course.

Balancing Tradition and Modernization

As golf evolves and adapts to the demands of contemporary players, so does the concept of gimmes. While traditionalists may argue for strict adherence to the rules and the exclusion of gimmes in any form, many recreational golfers appreciate their role in maintaining a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere on the course.

Common Gimme Scenarios

SituationDistance (Yards)Conditions for GimmeAccepted ByCommon Courtesy
Ball within 1 foot0-1AnyOpponentYes
Ball on the putting greenVariesInformal games onlyPlayerSometimes
Player can’t win holeVariesFriendly games onlyPlayerOften
Ball near the edgeVariesCasual gamesGroup consensusOccasionally
Player hits the flagstickVariesGroup agreementGroup consensusRarely

Reasons for Granting Gimmes

Time-savingSpeeds up the pace of play.
Social aspectMaintains a friendly atmosphere in the game.
Skill level differenceLevels the playing field in casual games.
EtiquetteAcknowledges good sportsmanship and courtesy.
Common agreementPlayers agree on gimme rules before the round.

Common Gimme Etiquette Rules

Etiquette RuleDescription
Ask for permissionAlways ask your opponent or group for a gimme.
Mark the ballIf unsure, mark the ball and measure the distance.
ConsistencyBe consistent in granting or denying gimmes.
Respect opponents’ wishesIf an opponent denies a gimme, respect their choice.
Follow course rulesObserve course-specific gimme policies if any.

How Gimmes Affect Scoring

Gimme SituationEffect on Score
Accepted gimmePlayer’s score is reduced by the gimme distance.
Denied gimmePlayer must complete the hole as usual.
Varies with game formatEffect depends on the rules agreed upon.
Impact on handicapsGimmes may affect handicaps in casual play.
Strategic usePlayers strategically use gimmes to their advantage.

Controversies Surrounding Gimmes

Unwritten rulesLack of formal guidelines leads to disputes.
Competitive playGimmes are rarely allowed in competitive golf.
Gaming the systemSome players manipulate gimmes for an advantage.
DisagreementsDifferences in gimme preferences can lead to conflicts.
Changing traditionsModern golf sometimes questions traditional gimme practices.


In summary, a gimme in golf is a concession of a short and easily makable putt by one’s playing partners or opponents. It’s a common practice in casual rounds, designed to speed up play and maintain a friendly atmosphere. However, it’s important to establish clear agreements on gimmes, be aware of the golf course’s rules, and use them judiciously to ensure fair and enjoyable gameplay. While gimmes may not be a part of formal tournament play, they are a cherished tradition in the social and recreational aspects of the game.


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  • Anglo Carson

    Anglo Carson, a Certified Golf Instructor, embarked on a remarkable journey, driven by his unwavering love for golf. He founded The Golf Mine with a singular mission - to create a golfing haven where passion knows no boundaries. His lifelong love affair with golf, combined with his expertise as a Certified Golf Instructor, turned into a vision to share his extensive knowledge, inspire, and promote the game he holds dear.

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