The Golf “Gimme” In Competition

I’m not a good enough golfer to be playing anyone for money.  That being said…it’s never stopped me.  When the opportunity comes along to make a little cash via competition, then I’m all in…as long as I know who I’m up against.  I won’t allow myself to be hustled.  So I stick to a few bucks here and there among friends or other golfers of whose skill level I am aware.  The other stinky golfers with whom I usually play have been playing the game longer than me, and I have no problem admitting they are better than I am.  However, I can hold my own when I put my mind to it.  Winning a little something here and there is not entirely out of the question.

However, when I am playing for money (or even food or beer), I apologize but, some aspects of sportsmanship go right out the window.  So when Sergio Garcia conceded an eighteen foot (or seventeen…or twenty, depending on what you’ve read) putt to Rickie Fowler at the WGC-Match Play Championship, I was dumbfounded.  Me?  Once money becomes a factor, I will not concede even a three-foot putt…I’ve seen way too many of those missed.  And I’m only playing for a few bucks.  But the WGC?  We’re talking a $9 million purse!  And you are going to concede a putt that is far from a gimme?!

I have two main problems with this situation, besides the stupidity of it.  First is that everyone is looking at it as a show of good sportsmanship.  OK, I guess besides the stupidity of giving someone a gimme from eighteen feet away, there is a hint of good sportsmanship in there.  But you know what I think there is an even higher level of?  Cockiness.  I can’t believe that nothing I’ve read about this so far even hints at it.  Sergio said he felt bad because of a delay on a ruling at a previous hole.  Really?  This is golf…half the game is a delay!  I think he knew he had a lead and felt he had it in the bag.  And if he won, he was going to play it as “See what I did there?  I pretty much gave that hole away and I won anyway.”  Well, so much for that!

Second is the fact that something like that can happen anyway.  And in the grand scheme of things, the fact that a “gimme” exists in the rules of golf at all is just plain ridiculous.  For a sport filled with such strict, annoying rules to begin with…that they will let someone just pickup a ball without actually finishing the hole is asinine.  And where exactly is that “gimme” line drawn?  Can you imagine if in football, a guy ran a kickoff back to the 1 yard line and was tackled, but rather than send the defense out onto the field, they just said “Ok, close enough…you can have that one.”  Or if in basketball, a guy misses a dunk, but the other team just lets him take the two points anyway because he was so close.  It’s ridiculous!  This is a competition with $9 million dollars on the line!  Make the putt!

Swing ’til you’re happy!


  1. Chris

    Nice rant! I would have to counter your argument with gimmies are also used as a tactic to let your opponent have two or three 3 footers, then when the pressure is on and they have not made a close one in many holes, the chances of missing go up! Not all gimmies are to be nice!


  2. As I’m sure all of you know, “gimmie’s” are only allowed in match play where you are only competing with the opponent you are playing with, and not the entire field. I sort of agree with Chris’s rant on this… that Sergio was only doing it to gain “brownie points” knowing he had the match in hand.

    However, from a rules perspective, it was perfectly legal during a match play event. See this post from the golf rules guru Barry Rhodes about this very subject:

    Good Golfing!

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