A Quick Nine: What are your rules on gimme putts?

Gimme putts
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Do you concede gimme putts like this one to your playing partners? Or, do you make them putt it out?
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: A Quick Nine

Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | 9:32 a.m.

To say we hit a nerve with this week's, 'A Quick Nine,' question would be an understatement. Nearly 500 of our friends in PGA.com Facebook Nation chimed in when we asked: What are your rules on gimme putts?

There were a wide range of great answers. Everything from, "There's no such thing as a gimme," to, "If it's inside of three feet, pick it up for pace of play reasons."

Of course, unless it's match play, anything less than, "putt 'em all out," is the wrong answer from a rules of golf standpoint. But, surely we all have that regular game where the gimmes are generously doled out. And that's precisely why we were interested in learning YOUR rules in regard to the gimme.

Check out the great answers we received below on this delicate topic. Many of them gave us a good chuckle.

If you'd like to join the discussion, comment below or visit the thread on our PGA.com Facebook page. And, if you struggle with your putting, be sure to watch videos from PGA Professionals for putting tips by clicking here.

9. Gimmes are good for the game and they speed up play. 

Facebook fan quotes:

"These answers are why some rounds on a public course take 5 hours. It's not the U.S. Open so keep the pace of play moving along." -- Mark Reagan

"To quote some famous golfer... What's his name again? No, not Rodney: 'While we're young!' If you're just playing, it helps hurry up play for everyone behind you. If it's a tournament, putt it out." -- John Hausman

"Pick it up. You ain't playing for the Claret Jug." -- Dustin Cox

"If it's a birdie putt or a par putt on a par 3 with a 'greenie' at stake, then putt it out. If it's "inside the leather" with a conventional length putter, then it's a gimme. If you have someone not familiar with your home course involved in a game then you should be a little more lenient and make putter length putts gimmes. Anything to speed the game up some. I've seen some players read and plumb bob putts from 18 inches while most of the group is already walking to the next tee box. Pick it up!" -- Mike Osterbur

"Pick 'em up, no one (for the most part) is making a mortgage payment with their golf winnings." -- Bryan R. Hajciar

"A gimme should be taken when there are two groups waiting on the tee box and you're still putting." -- Mike Pilatos

"In my golf league most players give a gimme if it is within two feet of the cup to help the pace of play." -- Greg Hermance

"You don't have to be a genius to understand that gimmes speed up the game. Many things do. Don't be scared of gimmes." -- Joa Kim

"The third putt is always good -- nothing worse than a four putt!" -- David Buckley

8. If your putt is within the leather (grip) of a standard length putter, go ahead and pick it up. It's good. For as long as I've been playing golf -- nearly 30 years now -- this has always been the unwritten gimme rule amongst the groups I've played with that use the gimme rule. That said, I've seen more than my share of putts missed from this range -- many of them my own.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Only within the leather of a standard putter, give or take." -- Cathy McCartney Happel

"Inside the grip = good." -- Lance Dudley

"I watch the player putt for a couple holes before I start giving putts. If he makes a couple, then it's the putter grip rule." -- Dennie Freier

"The length of the putter grip is a pretty good reference for me." -- Bill Lucas

"In the leather for bogeys or worse. We putt everything else out." -- Bobby Jordan

"'Inside the leather,' we call it." -- Jim Gauthier

7. If there's money on the line, all putts must be holed. Whether it's money, drinks, lunch, or something else, you can find out a lot about a player's nerves on short putts when something is at stake.

Facebook fan quotes:

"All money putts must be holed!" -- Joey Munoz

"Fun to watch how many so called gimmes miss when Club Championships come around." -- Gord Lawson

"Even if the words are spoken, you still putt out. Always! Especially for your friend's money." -- Branden Hall

"Well if you're playing for money or for beers, putt everything! And if you're not playing for money or beer, well your just not playing!" -- Robby Peck

6. If someone concedes a gimme and you decide to putt anyway -- and proceed to miss -- you must count the stroke. Fantastic rule here, if you ask me. Why do people do this? You've just been given a putt, say, 'thanks,' and then go ahead and putt it anyway? Then if you miss, there's that weird second or two before the playing partner says, "Well, I gave you that last one."

Facebook fan quotes:

"If you give a putt and the player putts it and misses it counts. The intent is to speed up play. Thoughts?" -- Gary Reed

"If someone says pick it up, put it in your pocket." -- Ron Vanorsdale

"Established on the first tee if you choose to put out a gimme and miss you take the extra stroke. It's 2-3 feet and in usually -- give and take." -- Taj Grills

5. If your putt is for par or birdie, you have to putt it no matter the length. Fair enough, right? Don't you feel better when you earn those types of scores anyway?

Facebook fan quotes:

"Par or birdie you have to putt." -- Jamie Colburn-Droopy

"You've made it too far to 'take' the par!" -- Andrew Sharpe

"I don't give any putts for par or birdie. If I feel I could miss the putt, I'm not giving it to you." -- Doug Cathro

"When playing with buddies -- within 2 feet. Never for birdie, and never if your playing skins." -- Jon Hogg

"Gotta earn it. Can't be for birdie or better. Ask others playing in group for consensus." -- Travis Scudder

4. A gimme is OK -- but only when it's match play. No gimmes in stroke play. Of course, this is the actual rule and hats off to those who follow it to the letter of the law.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Match play it's OK. Stroke play it's not." -- Gary Linthicum

"No gimme. Put everything out. No questions asked." -- Donna S. Phelps

"We putt out... every time." -- Jerry Young

"If it isn't in, it isn't in. Simple." -- Scott Elsley

3. If you have to ask if your putt is a gimme, well, it's not. I'm sure everyone has run into that uncomfortable situation where you see a playing partner left with a short, but testy putt. Before they set up to the putt they ask the group, "That's good, right?" Uh... well... Not really. But, since you put me in this awkward spot, I guess you can pick it up. Don't be that person -- either of them.

Facebook fan quotes:

"If the putt is short enough that you are asking for a 'gimme,' then just make it." -- Bradley Smith

"If it's a gimme then putt you shouldn't miss." -- Mitch Dilly

"If you want me to give you a putt, you don't have enough confidence to make it." -- Tony Palazzolo

"If you have to ask, it's no good." -- Adam Riggs

"If you have to ask then it's not a gimme." -- Chris Smith

"When asked if a putt is good, I reply, 'not bad!'" -- Paul Johnson

"If you think you actually need to ask me, you should probably putt." -- Michael Burgard

"Asking your partner if your putt is good is the lamest thing ever." -- James Webber Marshall

"Is it good? No!" -- Mark Myers

"I don't like when people complain about a short putt not conceded to them after they miss it. It's obviously not a gimme if you can't make it." -- Juice Rasmussen

2. A pre-round test to decide on gimmes. What a great idea, our friend Les Page has below! I might even see about adding it to my regular foursome! Basically, prove to me and everyone else that you're deserving of the gimme. I have to believe not many people would pass the test that Les proposes.

Facebook fan quotes:

"No money, no tournament -- we go to the putting green. If you make five in a row from three feet, from five different locations, you get inside three feet all day. Otherwise putt out. Most of the time we are putting out." -- Les Page

1. When is a gimme OK? Never. If you take/give putts from gimme range, don't record a score because you will have had holes you never finished out. Again, in stroke play, the rule is you must put everything. We're refreshed to see that so many of you are so diligent about that too.

Facebook fan quotes:

"If you do gimmes, you should not keep score, because you technically did not finish out certain holes." -- Tyler Tmart

"No gimme. Put everything out. No questions asked." -- Donna S. Phelps

"I try to refrain from cheating, score what you score, and go to the next tee." -- Greg O'Konski

"It's good once it touches the bottom of the cup." -- Josh Rheaume

"If I'm posting the score for my handicap then it's putted out until it hits the bottom of the cup." -- Greg Niskanen

"Never, it's simply an agreement made between two people who can't putt." -- John Dodge

"How many gimme putts have we all missed? So never give anything that way it keeps the game fair and interesting in my opinion." -- Ben Lumsden

"If the ball is picked up without being marked it is forfeit of the round in stroke play." -- Chuck Tinsley

"Is there a better sound in golf? Put it in the cup!" -- Danny Thomas

"Put it in the cup, or don't tell me your score." -- John Booth

"A 'gimme' is an agreement between golfers, neither of whom can putt well." -- Mario's Home Putting

"Gimmes are for people who don't have a handicap or keep score. Otherwise putt it until your hear the ball rattle in the cup!" -- Joe Serdar

"Gimme putts are in the same category as mulligans, not golf, some other game people that cant putt like to play." -- Al's Taxi

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.


T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.



Honestly the only give me putts ate the ones within an inch of the hole to where even a minor could make it that's it. If you are worried about play it doesn't matter due to the nature of the sport you play by the rules and go from there if you are being rushed most likely the people behind you are either giving up too many shots and not following the rukes or cheating against the team and rushing them. But like I already said the only gimme is within an inch which i mifht add most real golfers will putt out just to make the bucket. We all know the leather and most players that ask if its a gimme know they stand a 50/50 chance of messing it up so if you are true to the game then play and putt it out.


reminds me of one of the "quick nine" golf jokes run earlier this year, worthwhile to put in this forum.

"A U.S. citizen is vacationing on his own in Ireland. He decides to play a round of golf and is paired with three local gents. He takes a few practice swings, steps up to the first tee, and proceeds to hook the ball out of bounds. He shakes his head, reaches in his pocket, and re-tees another ball. He tells his playing partners that he is taking a Mulligan. He pounds one down the center of the fairway about 280 yards out.

With a big smile, he asks the others "In the U.S., we call that a Mulligan; was wondering what you called it here in Ireland."

After a moment of silence, one of the locals replies, "Hitting three."
Cathy McCartney Happel


Several comments made on the GIMMIE PUTTS are made in weekend groups and most are to speed up play, I'm not a very good putter and when I hear pick it up I should but I don't and some of those 2'ers lip out. Now if we talking Rules of golf, which now ETIQUETTE comes into play when you are putting everything out. I play in many USGA govern tournaments as an amateur and many times when someone runs a 30' putt past the hole three feet they sometimes want to putt out, well that's where ETIQUETTE comes into play. First off when the player that has the three footer coming back he must ask the other players if he may putt out, and most times people are nice and say yes..... But don't say yes so fast, if you feel that the player putting out may give another player in your foursome an advantage because he may be on the same line then immediately say NO PLEASE MARK YOUR BALL. By rule if the player ignores your request and holes out the putt he has to replace ball as close to where he putted out, mark his ball and re putt when it's his turn. ( not sure if it's a one stroke penalty but will check back ).


Hey league play, which for me is match play, we play with gimmies. I can see a low handicappers wanting to put everything out but its a game. Most people in my league are between 6 and 12 handicappers. But considereing we play the same course every week that is probably a litte skewed. Gimmies were the practice when I joined the league and I joined in. Whe I play with my friends I leave it up to the player I put out if they want to pick up its up to them. We all have friends that pack a foot wedge and take everything inside 5 feet but who cares I out to have fun, But money changes everything.


Ok people as far as I am concerned there is no such thing as a gimmie putt. Just like there is no such thing as "rolling the ball over". I play golf by the rules putt out and no touchinng the ball. Oh theres mud on my ball to F-in bad hit the shot and shut up. As far as these things speeding up play heres the deal if you don't have time to play golf then stay home. Its a 5 hour game give or take so if your in a hurry you don't belong on the course.


When someone new comes into the group or plays with us and they ask........"Is that good?", the reply they get is ....."It's not bad!" Put it in if it's for a match that involves a buck, or a beer. Otherwise, thanks for coming.


If you are not palying by the rules, you are not playing golf. Odds are that it is not the 1 foot putt that is slowing play. It is the fact that people don't play by the rules or know what they are supposed to do on the golf course that slows play. Just play ready golf and finish the 1 foot putt instead of marking the ball and waiting for "your turn". That is the major problem with the game today. Too many people have no idea how to prepare themselves to hit their shot in a timely fashion. They wait, watch everyone elses shot, then pull a club and go through some ritualistic routine to hit the ball 30 yards. Make the putts in stroke play and make your opponent putt them late in match play.