What Is A Gimme?

What is a gimme? And when can they be awarded?

What is a gimme?
(Image credit: Howard Boylan)

What Is A Gimme?

A gimme is a short putt conceded by an opponent. It is still counted as a shot, but the player does not actually play it. Its name comes from a corruption of “give me” as in “will you give me that shot?” asked by a player of their opponent. In the video below, rules guru Jezz Ellwood looks at when gimmes can and cannot be used under the rules of golf.

Logically perhaps it should be known as a giyya. For it is something an opponent gives you rather than something you should be asking for.

It is an act of sportsmanship. It is also justified as speeding up play by stopping players having to hole out from short distances.

A gimme can be given over any distance or none at all. There is no requirement for someone to give a gimme. Indeed, other than in match play, it is incorrect to do so.

Related: Match Play Golf Rules Explained

Technically gimmes should not be given in strokeplay. But they can be given in strokeplay if all players agree.

In club strokeplay competitions they will not be, but often in a more social competitions, and even in some charity or society days, they may be conceded. But they should not be, technically, if the player receiving the gimme is competing not just against the players in his group but all the others in the field and these other players are in no position to give their consent.

Indeed given how often gimmes occur in matchplay, the Ryder Cup is often where they can be seen in the professional game.

Perhaps the most famous gimme was the one Jack Nicklaus gave Tony Jacklin on the final hole of the final game of the 1969 Ryder Cup match. The concession of the 2ft putt resulted in the match being drawn and America retaining the cup. If the putt had been played and missed, Nicklaus’ USA side would have won the match as well as the cup.

“I don't believe you would have missed that, but I’d never give you the opportunity in these circumstances,” Nicklaus told Jacklin as he picked up Jacklin’s marker and handed it to him.

“Tony had been the first golfing hero that England had had in a long time. If he missed that putt, the British press would’ve barbecued him,” Nicklaus has said of the concession. “I didn’t want to put him in that position. He was a good friend.”

Gimmes can also cause controversy too as shown by the 2015 Solheim Cup.

Norwegian Suzann Pettersen was playing in a fourball with Charley Hull (opens in new tab) when American opponent Alison Lee picked her ball up thinking the Europeans had conceded, or given, her putt.

Pettersen insisted she hadn't conceded, despite walking away from the green with Hull, resulting in the Americans losing the hole on the 17th.

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.