What Is A ‘Gimme’ In Golf?

Have you ever been inches away from a hole on the golf course and someone yells, “That's a gimme!”?

A “gimme” in golf is a shot other players believe you'd surely make, so they count it without you playing it. It’s a nod of trust, a gesture of camaraderie.

But there's more to this unspoken rule than meets the eye. Dive in to unravel the nuances of the ‘gimme' in the world of golf.

So, What Exactly Is a Gimme?

Imagine you're on the putting green, your ball teetering on the edge of the hole, and a fellow player says, “That's a gimme.”

You may nod in gratitude, but have you ever wondered what it truly means? Let's delve deep into this fascinating golf term.

Breaking down the basics: an unplayed but counted shot

In the world of golf, a “gimme” stands as one of those unspoken understandings between players.

When you're so close to the hole that it's almost a given that you would make the shot, a gimme is granted.

This essentially means that the shot is counted without you actually having to play it.

The idea behind it is to save time and keep the game flowing, especially in situations where the outcome is pretty much a foregone conclusion.

It's like when you're watching a movie, and you can predict the ending – you just know.

Similarly, with a gimme, everyone around feels that the ball would've found its home in the hole without a doubt.

Why it’s called a “gimme” (hint: it's short for “give me!”)

Now, you might wonder, why the term “gimme”? The answer lies in the colloquial nature of the game.

Golf, while having its formal rules, is also rich in traditions and casual lingo that makes it so endearing to its enthusiasts.

The term “gimme” is a relaxed way of saying “give me”, indicating that the shot is so straightforward that you might as well “give” it to the player.

It's a blend of sportsmanship and casual camaraderie, a nod from one player to another that says, “I trust you'd have made that shot.”

The phrase seamlessly became a part of golfing jargon, encapsulating the spirit of trust and mutual respect that lies at the heart of the game.

When Do You Typically Hear “That's a Gimme!”?

The phrase “That's a gimme!” can often be heard echoing across golf courses, bringing smiles of relief or nods of agreement.

But when exactly do golfers typically declare a shot a gimme? Let’s uncover the situations and the unwritten code behind this phrase.

The very short putts: when the ball is inches away from glory

Most commonly, “That's a gimme!” is announced during those tantalizing moments when the ball is merely inches away from the hole.

Think of it as those times when you can almost feel the victory, the ball's so close that it’s practically teasing the hole.

It's the equivalent of being on the cusp of success, a hair's breadth away from achievement.

In these instances, the consensus is that any skilled golfer, or even a novice for that matter, would be able to tap the ball in without any hiccups.

The shot seems so evident that it’s believed playing it out would just be a formality, a needless prolongation of the inevitable.

And so, in the spirit of good sportsmanship and pace-keeping, the shot is often generously declared a gimme.

Trust among players: the belief that “you wouldn’t have missed that anyway”

The declaration of a gimme goes beyond just the proximity of the ball to the hole; it's deeply rooted in trust among players.

When someone says, “That's a gimme,” it’s not merely a comment on the ball's position; it's a testament to their belief in the player's capability.

It's like saying, “We believe you could make that shot with your eyes closed.”

This trust is a significant part of golf culture.

In a game where personal integrity holds paramount importance – players often keep their own scores and call penalties on themselves – a gimme becomes a symbol of mutual respect.

It's a nod, a tip of the hat, an acknowledgment that recognizes a player's skill and honors their standing in the game.

It brings to the fore the essence of golf, where camaraderie and sportsmanship often hold as much significance as the technical aspects of play.

This mutual trust transforms the game from just being a competition to a bonding experience among players.

Gimme Etiquette: When Is It Cool to Offer One?

Ever been in that slightly awkward moment on the golf course where you're not sure if it's okay to offer a gimme or if you should just keep quiet? You're not alone.

Like many aspects of golf, there’s an art to understanding the gimme etiquette.

So let's swing into the world of gimmes and unravel the do's and don'ts.

Reading the room: understanding the vibe of the game

Before even thinking of proposing a gimme, it's crucial to gauge the atmosphere and mood of the game.

If you're amidst a casual round with buddies on a lazy Sunday afternoon, the game's vibe is probably relaxed, with gimmes more liberally granted.

On the other hand, if you find yourself in a more competitive setting, maybe a club championship or an intense match-play scenario, the dynamics change.

Here, every shot counts, and while camaraderie remains, the margin for casual gestures might reduce.

It's a bit like knowing when to crack a joke at a party – if the mood's light and jovial, go for it; but if things are a tad serious, maybe hold off.

The unwritten rules: when it's alright to offer and when it might be a bit cheeky

Now, while there's no official “gimme” rulebook, a few unwritten guidelines have emerged over time.

First off, if you're not part of the match, it's probably best to stay silent. It's the players involved who have the right to offer or request a gimme.

Think of it like being a spectator at a theater – you enjoy the show but don’t dictate the actors' moves.

Then there's the distance factor. If the ball is just a couple of inches from the hole, it's generally seen as safe territory for a gimme proposition.

But if you're suggesting a gimme for a putt that’s a few feet out, eyebrows might raise.

It's essential to ensure that your offer doesn't come off as patronizing or undermining the other player's skill.

Lastly, always be prepared for a decline. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of gimmes.

Some golfers prefer to play every shot, feeling it's truer to the game.

If someone declines a gimme, respect their choice, offer a friendly nod, and move on.

Remember, it's all part of the dance of golf etiquette – a blend of respect, understanding, and sportsmanship.

The Official Rules: Stroke Play vs. Match Play

Golf, like any sport, has its rulebook. And while the casual gimme sits in the gray area of these regulations, there's clear guidance when it comes to official play.

Let's dive deep into how the gimme fits (or doesn't fit) into the formal realms of stroke play and match play.

No gimmes in stroke play: the formal rules

Stroke play is the more stringent of the two formats when it comes to the rules.

In this style of play, every single stroke counts towards a player's total score.

That means from the initial drive off the tee to that final putt into the hole; each shot is meticulously counted.

There's no room for casual gimmes here.

If you're an inch from the hole or even a hair's breadth away, you're still required to putt that ball in. The reason? Consistency and fairness.

Since all players are essentially competing against each other, every shot must be treated with the same level of importance to ensure an even playing field.

Match play’s leniency: when you can concede strokes, holes, or even the entire match

Now, flip the coin, and we have match play, where the dynamic shifts.

In match play, it's not about the total number of strokes, but rather winning individual holes.

Here, players (or teams) compete hole by hole, and the party with the fewer strokes on a particular hole earns a point.

This format naturally allows for more flexibility.

If you feel like your opponent is certain to make a putt, you can concede the shot, the hole, or even, in extreme cases, the whole match.

This is where the spirit of the gimme finds its formal recognition. It's a gesture of sportsmanship, acknowledging the skill and prowess of the opponent.

How conceding in match play is different from a casual gimme

While conceding in match play might sound like the official version of a gimme, there are distinctions.

A conceded shot in match play is a formal recognition, acknowledged by both parties, and once made, it cannot be withdrawn or refused.

A casual gimme, on the other hand, is more of a gentleman's agreement, an informal nod rooted in camaraderie and the relaxed nature of friendly rounds.

Additionally, the motivations differ.

In match play, a player might concede a putt not just out of respect for the opponent's skills but also due to strategy, perhaps aiming to move quickly to the next hole or maintain the flow of the game.

In contrast, a casual gimme usually comes from a place of sportsmanship and the desire to keep the game moving in a relaxed and friendly environment.

The Origin of the Gimme: A Quick Dive into Golf History

Golf's rich tapestry is woven with tradition, etiquette, and fascinating tales from yesteryears.

Among the colorful threads of this history is the intriguing story of the ‘gimme.'

Let's embark on a journey back in time to uncover how this casual gesture found its place in golf lexicon and became a staple in friendly matches.

How the gimme became a staple in casual matches

The world of golf has always been about both competition and camaraderie.

As the sport evolved, players often found themselves in friendly matches where the stakes were more about pride and enjoyment than trophies or titles.

In these informal settings, the pace of the game and the spirit of friendly competition often took precedence over rigorous rule-following.

It's within these relaxed boundaries that the concept of the gimme began to take root.

Picture a sunny day, a group of friends playing a round, and one of them has a putt that's a mere whisper away from the hole.

Rather than waiting for what's essentially a foregone conclusion, one player might just say, “That's close enough, pick it up!”

Over time, these gestures of goodwill became more frequent, evolving into a widely accepted convention in casual play.

The gimme became the embodiment of golf's gentlemanly spirit, a nod to the game's core values of trust and sportsmanship.

A look at its roots: why did golfers start using this term in the first place?

Tracing the exact origin of the term ‘gimme' is a bit like trying to find a lost ball in the rough – it's challenging but not impossible.

The word itself is a colloquial contraction of the phrase “give me.”

It encapsulates the very essence of the gesture: “You don't need to play that shot; I'll give it to you.”

While the exact moment the term was first uttered on a golf course remains shrouded in mystery, it's believed to have originated in the early 20th century.

As golf grew in popularity, so did the number of friendly matches, leading to more opportunities for players to offer and accept gimmes.

Over time, the term “give me” was shortened, eventually coalescing into the snappier “gimme” we know today.

The usage of ‘gimme' mirrors the sport's journey from a formal, rigid game to one that embraces both competition and camaraderie.

It's a testament to golf's ability to balance tradition with evolution, ensuring the sport remains as vibrant and relevant today as it was centuries ago.


Golf is much more than just a game; it's a dance of tradition, etiquette, and camaraderie.

The ‘gimme,' while a small gesture, encapsulates this blend perfectly.

It stands as a testament to the sport's rich history, reminding us that at the heart of every swing, putt, and concession, there lies a story that binds players across generations.

As you step onto the green, remember that each gimme is more than just a given putt; it's a nod to the timeless spirit of the game.