Conceded Putts and Their Role in Golf Matches

Paul Casey conceded a putt to Steve Stricker at the 2008 Ryder Cup
Paul Casey picks up Steve Stricker's golf ball and tosses it to him after conceding Stricker's putt during a match at the 2008 Ryder Cup. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

A "conceded putt" is a putt that your opponent in a match gives you - that is, your opponent allows you to count the putt as made without requiring you to actually stroke it into the hole. As soon as your opponent tells you he's conceding your putt, your putt is considered holed. If you were laying three and your putt is conceded, you pick up the ball, mark down a "4" on your scorecard and move on.

Important: Conceded putts exist in the Rules of Golf only for match play. Conceded putts are not allowed under the rules in stroke play; in stroke play, you must always putt your ball into the hole. ("Gimmes" exist in stroke play, but are illegal under the rules. If you are playing by the rules, conceded putts are allowed only in match play.)

The act of telling an opponent you are conceding her putt is called "conceding the putt" or "giving the putt"; a putt that's been conceded is a "concession" (one of several kinds of concessions possible in match play).

Why Concede a Putt?

Why would anyone concede an opponent's putt? Shouldn't you force them to make every putt on the chance they might miss?

Well, if the opponent's ball is just three inches from the cup, a concession might be given just as a means of expediting play.

If the opponent's ball is two feet from the cup, then the decision whether to concede becomes trickier. Of course, conceded putts are not required; if you want to make your opponent hole out on every green, make every putt, just don't offer any concessions.

Or you can concede a couple putts early in the match that are right on the cusp of being sure things, only to make an opponent putt from that length later in the match, when the pressure is higher. For more on the strategies of conceded putts, see our article on Match Play Strategy.

Concessions Are Given, Never Requested

Note that conceded putts are not something you should request; concessions are solely at the discretion of the opponent. It's entirely up to you whether your match play opponent gets to pick up his ball without stroking it into the hole; it's entirely up to your opponent whether or not to concede your putt.

No asking for a concession!

Can You Rescind a Conceded Putt?

Let's say you inform an opponent you are conceding a putt. But before he picks up the ball, you change your mind. Can you rescind the concession?

No. A concession means the ball is holed. As soon as you concede an opponent's ball, that ball is considered holed and your opponent's play of that hole is over.

How Do You Concede a Putt - What Do You Say?

Do you announce to your opponent, "Attention Opponent! Let it be duly noted that I hereby concede your putt!"? You could do that!

Most golfers who are giving a concession simply say to their opponent, "that's good" or "pick that one up."

If you ever hear something from an opponent and are unclear whether your putt has been conceded, ask them to repeat it and clarify. Never pick up a ball up unless you are certain a concession was offered.