Picture this: you’ve just thrown a fantastic shot that landed cleanly inside Circle 1. You’re thrilled. You’ve sunk identical putts so many times before, you think, “I’ve got this!” Full of confidence, you release what you think is an unmissable putt and—dink!—find out just how wrong you were.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this mistake. During casual rounds especially, it’s easy to get lazy with putting. It seems so easy, right? How could you possibly miss a five foot putt? Well, it’s not necessarily as simple as it might seem.
That’s right, it’s time to talk gimme putts.
What’s a “Gimme” Putt?
Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about putts that you can drop into the basket. We’re talking about putts from such a short distance that they feel all but guaranteed, but a putting motion would still be needed to send them home.
It has become a common practice for some to accept these gimme putts as made putts in casual rounds. These putts (typically 5-10 ft. from the basket) are skipped and players move on to the next hole. Players might choose to do this because they feel that a casual round doesn’t demand strict rule-following or because it speeds up the round when they’re short on time.
Why Taking “Gimme” Putts Is Valuable
Choosing not to take your gimme putts can damage your game in the long run. While there’s a big difference between playing for fun and competing in a tournament, good habits are created by playing each round as if it were a tournament. Any pro will tell you that the key to a strong putting game is a well-practiced routine. If you’re skipping out on the practice in your casual rounds, how can you expect to execute when your score matters?
Take a look at this putt from Janne Hirsimäki last year at the Finnish Nationals caught by SpinTV. It's the last hole of a huge tournament, and he's taking a putt that would draw him even with the leader and force a playoff. It might seem to be within questionable "gimme" range, but even though it's outside the markings for Metrix's "bullseye," it's inside what would be "parked" on your UDisc app.
Now, we have no idea if Hirsimäki would usually putt those out in casual rounds, and we're sure he'd make that putt 99% of the time. However, his unfortunate miss under big-time pressure shows exactly why taking every chance you can get to put short putts in the basket is a good idea.
At the end of the day, if you’re accepting gimme putts, you’re really robbing yourself of the opportunity to hone your putting rhythm in a low-stress environment and (most likely) the satisfaction of hearing chains. Why give that up?