Rules for gimmes putts: How far is too far?
Golf Culture

Rules for gimmes putts: How far is too far?

Most every casual golf group believes in the "gimme", the putt that's close enough to the hole that everyone in the group is confident it would be made were the player forced to putt it.

However, there seem to be different rules for gimmes, deciding the length a putt has to be for it to be good. So, how do you define the Circle of Trust? How far is too far for a gimme? We have some guidance.

When a putt is a gimme

  • If it's inside the leather of the putter: Lots of groups call a gimme when a putt stops closer to the hole than the distance from the near lip of the cup to the bottom of the putter grip. It's a little more than 2 feet.
  • If it's inside the length of the putter: This is the same measurement as inside the leather, but the player gets the full length of the putter as the radius.
  • If it's inside a certain distance: This is a little bit harder to enforce, but some folks say 1 or 2 feet, maybe even 3 feet.
  • If it's inside the scorecard: Sometimes, folks want to give putts but are especially stingy about it, so they whip out the scorecard, which can range from 6-8 inches.

When a putt isn't a gimme

  • If it's to win the hole: No matter the format, a lot of players won't concede a putt that will win the hole. They want to see that one go in the cup.
  • If it's for birdie or better: With so many groups often playing side bets in addition to the main game, putts for birdie or better usually come with a few dollars attached. That's why they're rarely considered a gimme.
  • Never: There are plenty of purists out there who don't care if gimmes are good psychology or help speed the pace of play. They want everything putted out.

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