When Are Gimme Putts Allowed in Golf?

A putt this short is sometimes called a gimme putt

Gimme putts are often seen in recreational rounds of golf between friends. But when, exactly, are you allowed to ask for a gimme? Or declare, "I'm taking a gimme"?

The short answer is: If you're playing by the Rules of Golf, never. Gimmes (sometimes spelled "gimmies") are never allowed under the rules. However, in a round among friends who are just out having fun, you can ask for a gimme anytime you want. Whether your buddies allow it is another question, but you can ask.

What Is a Gimme Putt?

A gimme putt is a short putt that one golfer asks another golfer or golfers to count as made. In other words, your playing companions give you the putt without forcing you to actually stroke the ball into the cup.

The name "gimme putt" derives from "give me": "Will you give me that one? Will you gimme that one?"

A golfer who has, say, a one-foot putt might say to his fellow-competitors, "That's a gimme, right?" Or his partners might first stay, "That's a gimme, pick it up."

Gimme Putts and Conceded Putts Are Not the Same Thing

Conceded putts, also called concessions, are putts (of any length) that an opponent tells her foe to pick up and count as made. That opponent concedes the rival's putt. Concessions are legal under the Rules of Golf, but only in match play, never in stroke play.

Gimmes are sort of the mirror image of a concession: They are not legal, ever, under the Rules of Golf; they are seen in stroke play; and they are requested by the golfer facing the short putt.

How Short Does a Putt Have to Be to Call It a Gimme?

Because gimmes are based in tradition, not rules, many groups of golfers have different ways of playing them. The key idea for most golfers, though, is this one: "inside the leather."

If a putt is "inside the leather," that makes it a gimme in groups that allow gimmes. So what does "inside the leather" mean? It means one of these two things, depending on who you ask:

  1. A putt that is shorter than the length of the grip on the top end of your putter.
  2. A putt that is shorter than the length of your putter from the clubhead up the shaft to the bottom of your grip.
No. 2 allows longer gimmes than No. 1 does. So if you wind up in a group of golfers who are strangers to you, and you discover that everyone is playing gimmes, clarify what length is allowed before jumping in.

Photo credit: By Thomas Ward from Pexels

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