Debate: Should you give gimmies? Or just hole out?

When is a gimme not a gimme? Are you quite generous or do you make your opponent hole everything? Two of our writers weigh in with their opinions

DM: I think the gimme is a silly concept. Or at least a well-intentioned concept that is no longer fit for purpose. In competition, I think you should just hole out everything, as you would in strokeplay. If it’s hanging over the hole then it won’t take long to brush in. And if it’s a smelly two-and-a-half-footer then that’s an integral part of the game. Get on with it!

JT: While I get the principle behind making your playing partner hole out all the time, I do think the gimme has a place within the game and is a way of showing them some respect. Imagine a situation where we both make the green in two but you are a foot away and I am 40 feet away. I leave my putt 10 feet short and then miss again. I’m hardly then going to ask you to hole out because I know you’ve won the hole and we can just move onto the next tee.

DM: I think that’s different – you can concede a hole at any point you wish. Whenever it’s the Ryder or Solheim Cup, there’s always a commentator or two tutting about short putts not being conceded. I think the top pros know better than anyone how difficult it can be to hole a short putt under pressure. What it comes down to is that if it’s so simple then you won’t mind knocking it in and if the real reason you are unhappy about a putt not being conceded is you think you might miss it then your opponent is absolutely right to keep quiet.

JT: I’ve missed more than enough short putts to know just how difficult they are to knock in under pressure, but there is a huge difference between playing in the Ryder Cup and playing with some friends on a Saturday afternoon. Perhaps the real problem comes with not establishing how you are going to proceed before a round with regards to gimmes. I personally have no problem with them, but it would annoy me greatly if I was offering them and not getting any back. I don’t think there’s any harm in having a quick word on the tee before a round to establish some ground rules, and then surely there can’t be any problems.

DM: I think that is a good point – there’s almost a point of etiquette about gimmes. A moral obligation. I just don’t see it. If I am playing in a match, I expect nothing. But we’ve all felt the glare of an oppo annoyed that their putt wasn’t conceded and it can be uncomfortable. It’s just that these people are invariably poor putters! The way I see it, we are all capable of missing putts that are any longer than a couple of inches. So let’s just complete the hole and see what happens.
I think there is a point of etiquette regarding gimmes and I don’t see that has being a problem JT: Like you say, I think there is a point of etiquette regarding gimmes and I don’t see that has being a problem. We have enough other etiquette rules in the game after all! I just think that if you want a more friendly game then the odd gimme here and there hurts nobody. The reality is that over 18 holes, unless there is a huge handicap discrepancy between the two players, it will probably work itself out anyway. Of course we are going to miss the odd two-feet putt, but because we all do it surely that means that the odd gimme shouldn’t be a problem. People shouldn’t abuse the system and come to rely on them however, and I think that is where the dividing line should be drawn.

DM: I’m only talking about competitions here – in a friendly match you can do what you want! I just think we should remember that the essence of the game is getting the ball in the hole so no one should take umbrage if they are asked to do so.

JT: Just because you are playing in a competition doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly though. In principle you are right, but it is never as simple as that, as we all know. I’ve played with people who will happily take gimmes but never offer them, and that is where the issue is for me.

Have your say on the issue in the comments box below.

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