Normally I am not one to suggest changes to the game of golf. The game has been around a great deal longer than I, and all situations of play were long ago hashed over and solved for the best. However, I do believe for the good of the game we should abolish that great destroyer of friendships, the conceded putt. It is the only time your opponent has any influence on your score and therefore the only time you have someone to blame other than yourself for a misplayed shot. After years of experience on both sides of the issue I have concluded that human beings are far too weak to handle the responsibility of conceding a putt or accepting a conceded putt. In either case there are always problems.
Years ago as the professional at the Latrobe Country Club, I was invited to play with Mr. Palmer and two of his guests who worked for the same organization. Mr. Palmer was partnered with the CEO of the company and I played with the other guest. The CEO, feeling he had the better of the game suggested we all play for higher stakes than normal. I knew I was on the bad end of the bet, but unfortunately was in no position to complain. Little did I know it would be worse than I expected. Over the course of the round my partner set some kind of record for conceding putts and all around sucking up to his boss and Mr. Palmer. Every shot that came within 10 feet of the hole was conceded by my partner. “Good shot! Pick it up.” “Great putt, the rest is good” followed what seemed like every shot at the pin. On top of that, when our team rolled one up to the hole our opponents came down with the worst case of lock jaw in history. The only time I heard the words, “that’s good” directed at me was when I suggested the turkey sandwich at the halfway house. Finally I could take it no more. On a par three hole late in the round the CEO hit a shot that rolled off the tee and was still a long from the hole. He began to curse and complain about his misfortune when the frustration of losing took over and I said, “Oh quit complaining, all you have to do is get the next shot on the green somewhere and my partner will give you the putt for a routine par.” I still have nightmares about the looks I got, especially from my boss. Like I said conceded putts are nothing but trouble.
All kidding aside, the most important reason to eliminate “gimmes” is simply that they hurt your putting. They of course have a role in match play events as part of the team strategy, as long as your teammate is truly on your side. But in everyday play it is much better to putt them all in, especially this time of year when the greens are not as true. Make yourself putt the short ones. You putting will be better for it.