Thinking about 'gimmees'
Do you always hole out every putt? I mean even the shortest ones, under a foot? Should you?

We had an incident at a club tournament this weekend that caused quite a flap. Even though it was a tournament, Day 1 was a two-man scramble so teams were “giving’ putts of sure-fire length. Well, apparently one team took it up with another that they hadn’t really finished a hole, even though they had given putts to each other up to that point. It caused quite a flap, which could have been totally avoided had everyone just finished each hole according to the rules.

That got me thinking about how many holes in the typical round of golf with my friends that I really do finish. By that, I mean how many holes do I actually hear and experience the ball drop into the hole. In “Getting Up and Down”, one of my favorite short game books, Tom Watson says he always finishes the hole by hearing the ball drop, as anything less seems like unfinished business. He explains that his dad started him in golf on the putting green and told him to make the ball go in the hole. And to this day, that this part of each hole has always been his favorite. How many of us think that way? Not too many, I would guess.

This all got me thinking about how much longer it would really take if you just finished each hole by tapping in. Hearing the ball drop. Really finishing each hole you started. I’m going to experiment with that a while and ask my buddies not to knock the ball back to me when I get it in “the leather”.

And what is a “gimmee” anyway? You’ve seen it many times, a golfer puts his putter head into the hole to measure whether a putt is a “good” or not. Like there’s some law to define it. What’s that really about? And does the long/belly putter user get more freebies than I do, with my 32” putter? Wouldn’t it be easier if we all just holed out?

If you research it, I believe you’ll find that “in the leather” originally meant inside the length of the grip on the putter, not the distance from the putter head to the bottom of the grip. That would make “gimmees” something under a foot in length, which might not be too bad.

But my new approach is to hole out everything, even if just a few inches. I’m going to see if that doesn’t bring a new feeling of completion to each hole in the round. And to each round itself.

What do you guys think?
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
tartantoml says:
Maybe the length of the putter face if we are feeling pressure from a group behind us.
4/17/12
 
cvargo says:
'Gimmie' Whats a gimmie? I never leave a putt short.

all kidding aside I might try that
4/17/12
 
GolfSmith7 says:
Hey Terry, I signed up for the world am and have started my preparation by finishing every hole. No matter how close I get to the hole I have to hear it drop bc at the world am I am sure there are no gimmes. Doing this has made me aware of how important it is to concentrate even on putts that seem too easy to miss. Good word today!
4/17/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
Frankly Wedgeguy I'm surprised that holing out everything is a new approach for a veteran like yourself. I'm a comparative newby but I've been holing out for years now. You're absolutely right, keep it simple. Some of the flaps like you describe, that arise over "gimme" putts, are just pathetic. So are the excuses. "It causes slow play"--OK, there's like 10,000 causes of slow play, yet you want to save a few seconds by cutting out the part that is only the most basic objective of the game, OK. How noble. There's also something I like to think of as "holing instinct". If you don't hole out every time, I don't think you have it. Never seen a really good putter who doesn't hole out every time.
4/17/12
 
mtgolfidiot says:
When we play casual rounds the "gimme" seems to be a standard. However, when I play a sanctioned event, there are no such things as gimmes. It is interesting to see it happen several times a round that a golfer misses a typical "gimme" putt
4/17/12
 
homermania says:
I've been a holing out for a while now. I find that I benefit psychologically from seeing and hearing the ball drop. Whenever a playing partner looks like they're going to sweep my gimmie away, I try to stop them so I can hole out.
4/17/12
 
DaRupp13 says:
It's a mind challenge, having the confidence to step up to a 2 footer with a few inches break and being able to make it. We all know the real reason people ask for gimmes - terrified of missing the short putt. Slow play and the likes are all excuses. I never ask for a gimme, but I'll typically except one when offered. Though in the spirit of the recent rule following post (this along with Brian K's provisional tee shot post), I think I'll start holing everything out. If the putt is the length of a typical gimme anyway, it shouldn't slow down play.
4/17/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
"It's a mind challenge, having the confidence to step up to a 2 footer with a few inches break and being able to make it. We all know the real reason people ask for gimmes - terrified of missing the short putt." DaRupp13

Truer words have never been spoken. It really is ego deflating to miss tiny putts.
4/17/12
 
tfarrell826 says:
I will come clean here and admit that I take every gimmee that is offered and take them on my own when I play as a single. I hate myself for it. I'm awful with short putts and when I miss one it can snowball into a few bad holes and ruin a round. Im more comfortable from 5-6 ft than 3 ft with break.

I have worked so hard at fixing my swing over the past few years and have spent much less time on fixing my putting issues. Now that the swing has improved, and the short game with my Scor wedges, its time to start holing out and devote equal or more time to putting.
4/17/12
 
phallstrom says:
In the league I play in, gimme's are given at about 1 foot -- unless the guy is having a horrible hole (triple or quadruple area) then we get generous. However, even when given, I still tap it in. I might not do it as seriously as I would if I was on my own, but I do it. I just have to hear that noise when it drops! Plus... as that poor lady on the LPGA just showed us... nothing is a gimme :/
4/17/12
 
mjaber says:
The hole is where the ball belongs. That's what "Happy Gilmore" taught us. The ball wants to go home. Send him home.
4/17/12
 
Agustin says:
It all depends on the game being played. Match play allows conceding putts.
4/17/12
 
aaronm04 says:
I like to hole out every time. There are occasions like pace of play and whether my putt counts in a team event (depending on the format too) where I'll pick up, but those aren't the norm. It would be interesting to see what effect the "hole them all out" standard would have on many players' handicaps. At least if you hole them all out, you know you have a true handicap and know whether you are capable of making those nasty 2-foot sliders.
4/17/12
 
jcstoll says:
If a playing partner sends my ball back to me from a foot, I won't protest (unless I'm on the 18th hole of a career, by-the-book round). If he simply says "that's good," I just go ahead and knock it in anyway. I do find it funny/curious that when someone who's been having a bad hole and duffing it all the way to the green, picks up with 1-2 ft to go. I mean, good grief, you spend all that time and effort getting it there, and then you don't care to hear the "gunga-galunga"?? That's what it's all about!
4/17/12
 
BAKE_DAWG40 says:
Gimme? What the hell is that? I've approached 10" putts after executing a nice lag putt only to have it lip out because I took for granted and said to myself, "no way I can miss this one". I'd like to know how many of those I've missed. Gimme my ass.
4/17/12
 
jrbizzle says:
If I'm playing by myself anything I deem a "gimmie" is close enough I can knock in int he hole with just an extra second to swing the putter and then reach down and pluck it.

But sometimes with friends if I leave a 15-20 footer within tap in range, they'll kick it back to save me the walk. But if I've got a good foot or two left, I usually decline any gimmies and finish it out, because under the gun you gotta train yourself to make those. Especially pars and birdies, there are no "gimmies" for pars and birdies, you gotta finish those out.
4/17/12
 
birdieXris says:
Every putt goes in the hole with me when i'm playing a practice round. I think the only time i do "gimmes" in a round is if i'm playing through and i hit my first putt to about the length of my putter-head. Just to save that extra couple seconds and get off the green. EVEN I don't miss those. Anything outside of that, i putt.
4/17/12
 
Backquak says:
I always try to hole out, but like most, if I'm playing with someone that doesn't know that and they kick it to me, I will accept it, unless it's for a Birdie or Eagle, I will always finish those, gotta hear it hit the bottom of the cup.

My son has been going with me for 8 years now(he's 9), and you should see the looks he's given when someone kicks his ball back to him, there is fire in his eyes. When he was little, he HAD to finish every hole or we would have a melt-down. My wife told me I should not let him throw those fits, and I said, "we are here to play golf, not hit balls "at the flag", if thats all we were going to do, we would go to the driving range"
4/17/12
 
jrbizzle says:
birdieX - sounds like you and I handle things about the same. I have no problem with "gimmies" per se, but rather what some people consider a gimmie to be. To me, it is a putt you just can't miss, somewhere between a quarter of an inch and six inches. So if you're playing with friends, don't make a guy walk 20 feet across a green to pick it up unless he wants to. And that's the other thing - don't just knock it to him, simply ask "you want that?" and kick it to him if he doesn't turn it down. Some people like to hear the ball, and don't deprive them their right.

Now, in match play, you can give putts according to your opponent's skill, pace of play, or straight up gamesmanship if you want.
4/17/12
 
tfarrell826 says:
How does everyone handle their 2nd putts in a casual game where pace of play is very important? To speed up play, when I go to hit my 2nd putt I normally would not go through the same routine as I would for my 1st putt, or if I was in a tourny or money game. If I then missed that rushed 2-3 ft. putt (where I didnt take time to line it up etc)I feel like it was not a deserved miss in a way. I will miss a heck of a lot more 2 footers rushed trying to hole out and keep pace then I would if it was not given and I spent the extra 20-30 sec to ensure I was aligned properly and had the line right.
4/17/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
tfarrell: Once you accept that short putts are as much a part of the hole as a tee shot or an approach shot then you'll stop worrying about pace of play. There's probably a hundred different opportunities during a round to speed up play that have nothing to do with a golf shot, worry about those first. If you really care about your score then sometimes you have to sweat a two-footer, that's just a fact of life. If you think about it the closer you are to the hole the less you can afford to be sloppy. If anyone gives you grief about it don't even dignify it with a response.
4/17/12
 
tfarrell826 says:
Thanks, I like that approach. I need to break the habit to get serious about my game.
4/17/12
 
larrynjr says:
Playing men's league, I'll take a gimme when offered, it helps speed play but if I don't hear them say it, i putt out. If i'm playing with friends or alone, I always putt out.
4/17/12
 
Matt McGee says:
I and two fellow competitors each missed a tap-in (6" or less) putt in our club championship last year. Since then, I hole out everything that I'm going to write down a score for. I agree, also, that there's some distinct satisfaction to hearing the ball hit the bottom of the hole.
4/17/12
 
Joness says:
I never play gimmes. The whole point of the game is to get the ball in the hole and I love the sound of the ball going in the hole. Always putt out.
4/17/12
 
siggy22 says:
It seems contrary to the objective of the game to leave putts around the hole and not finish. Unless I'm with a friend who just hits my ball back to me (and that irritates me sometimes I'll admit), I always finish a hole, every time. To actually get the ball where it's supposed to go gives you a sort of closure.
4/18/12
 
TeT says:
Gimme is inside a foot if you are giving and taking.... Never a birdie putt only the ones for par and ugly numbers are given. If you are prone to such things...
4/18/12
 
chief_broom says:
We all know if it's a true gimmie or not. I don't mind true gimmies, but I also play in situations were it's specified before tee off that everything is to be putted out and that even if a guy brushes at his 1 footer (or less) and it lips out then that's another stroke. Now during informal games I've seen guys get pretty liberal with the gimmies and that's fine with me, but the guys I usually play with only give those gimmies to guys who they know can make those putts in their sleep. I agree though that you have to be careful about taking gimmies, because in the end you can begin to rely on that and when you're expected to start making those same putts you just might find yourself missing quite a lot of them.
4/18/12
 
preny says:
Having played mini golf long before ever taking up the real deal, I can't quite be satisfied without the sound of the ball dropping in myself.

I definitely hate when people think inside the leather means the whole length of the shaft, as if they're all 100% from 2-3 feet out. What a crazy thing to go through all the effort of a hole of golf and not even complete the ritual.
4/19/12
 
dooboo says:
youtu.be/LBWpq3y9KqI

says it all.
4/19/12
 
onedollarwed says:
Wow, lots of responses.
1. I think the gimme migrated from match play, and if you're playing match play quickly it can save a ton of time.
2. Short putts are often difficult, if not because of break or volcanoes, but because of the kind of anxiety which many people have over short putts. Never mind gimmes, how often does somebody miss the short putt and say, oh that was good?!?! Any short putt up for consideration, should be done.
3. It's a sham. The guys who suck at putting give a lot of gimmes, not because they want to give them, but because they want to GET them too. Gimmes are really TAKEES!
4. Also, when people offer, I say, "sorry, I need the practice." And it's true. I also need the confidence boost. Last round I missed a 3' for birdie, no break, but bumpy. It was on a par three with the group in front, and my group all standing around admiring my tee shot from 125 to 3'. There was a lot of attention and a small gallery. I tried to be nonchalant, but just lost focus. I'm a very good putter as well.
4/19/12
 
onedollarwed says:
The other 3 guys in the group missed about 10 3' and in in the round. It really adds up. One guy muffed a tap-in par 18" on the first hole, cursed, and rightly announced the bogie. He was quiet for 3 holes after that.
4/19/12
 
onedollarwed says:
No wonder people avoid short putts like the plague.
4/19/12
 
DaRupp13 says:
onedollarwed - your #3 hits the nail right on the head.
4/19/12
 
markgreenley says:
if it's really a gimmie, just tap it in!
4/19/12
 
chaka says:
the worst thing is when people don't actually putt the the short ones but just go up to it and make half hearted swings (and miss, so they give it to themselves anyway), that's what slows it down, why not just either pick it up or actually putt it. i do this and catch myself and say, no either you actually make a real putt or pick up, don't waste people's time.
4/23/12
 
countrydoc says:
I lost a tournament by a stroke, while missing a 2 ft "gimmee" my playing partners told me to take. I putted everything in because I took this "tournament" (medical staff tournament) seriously. I subsequently missed the gimmee not concentrating on the putt and telling my partners how I needed to make every putt. I would love to know how many "gimmee's" the guy who won took.
5/21/12
 
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
Click here to for Terry's blogroll.
 
    Golf Talk
Most Popular:

Subscribe