In discussion: Should we play gimmes or forget them?

Tips

Should we expect them or forget them altogether?

Joe Whitley (JW): I was playing in a match this weekend and my opponent made me putt absolutely everything, including one less than three inches from the cup. Apparently he doesn’t agree with gimmes. Is he onto something or just ultra competitive?

Dan Murphy (DM): Well, you should never expect a gimme. If you work on that basis then you will never be disappointed.

JW: I realise that you shouldn’t expect it, but it’s not the final of the Accenture Match Play – it was the second round of the knockout. Are we sometimes guilty of taking the game a bit too seriously?

DM: I don’t think it’s anything to do with taking it seriously. It’s just part of the game. In fact, you could say it was the very essence of the game.
You don’t get to ‘take it away’ in a medal so why should you in matchplay?

JW: That’s what sets matchplay apart, it’s part of its charm. Used tactically, gimmes are an extra weapon in your arsenal and can be used to unsettle your opponent.
If you’re getting rid of them, why not scrap the scoring system too and just compare medal scores at the end of the round?
That’s what sets matchplay apart, it’s part of its charm. Used tactically, gimmes are an extra weapon in your arsenal and can be used to unsettle your opponent. DM: The key difference is that you are playing hole by hole in matchplay and that means you can lose the battle (one hole) but still win the war (the match).
I would argue that if you expect nothing then your opponent can never unsettle you.
What you need to remember is that gimmes are not an act of generosity or charity. The idea of it is to dispense with a formality – the tap-in. I reckon that anything longer than a foot is missable so that’s about the limit of a gimme. Conceding three and three-and-a-half footers is just silly.

JW: It may be silly but it can be an extremely clever tactic. It’s something a lot of top players do – give your opponent everything inside five feet early on when there’s no pressure, then make them hole out when it matters. It doesn’t always work but it certainly can give you an upper hand. I agree you shouldn’t expect them but they definitely have a place in my eyes.

DM: If you want to play games then fine, I just try to concentrate on winning the match without this silly distraction.
I always laugh when I’m watching the Ryder or Solheim Cup and the commentators tut about short putts not being conceded.
It’s because the top players know better than anyone that short putts are not a formality.
It isn’t rude to ask someone to knock a putt in.
I mean, if it’s that easy then you’ll just brush it in without any problem and we can all move on. And if, as I suspect is more often the case, you don’t really fancy a two-and-a-half footer then it obviously shouldn’t be conceded, should it?

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