Golf IQ

7 'evil genius' ways to trick your opponents into giving you more putts

December 07, 2023

I consider myself a generous golfer—so generous, in fact, that when I conceded a clinching four-footer (five?) to a colleague during our company match-play event earlier this year, he responded, “Are you sure?” No, I wasn’t, but I couldn’t stand the awkwardness of being that guy. I’ll take the 2&1 loss.

Creating that little bit of awkward tension is key to being given more putts, as Golf Digest Senior Game Improvement Editor Luke Kerr-Dineen and I discussed on this special “dastardly” episode of the Golf IQ podcast, which you can listen to right here (or below). Typically on the podcast, we dive into the nerdy side of the game, uncovering strategies and hacks to help you play better golf, but this episode explores the more devious ways you can lower your scores.

Whether you call it gamesmanship or subtle mind games, there are plenty of tactics you can use to trick your playing partners into letting you scoop up your three- and four-footers. Before we get into our seven favorites, let’s be clear to not take any of these too seriously. When used sparingly, they can lead to more gimmes, but frequent use could lead you searching for a new foursome.

1. Take your time

If you’ve lagged a 40-footer up to the edge of the circle of friendship, take the long way to the hole. Walk a little slower. While you take your time, you give your partner more time to weigh the moral dilemma in front of them. With each second, the odds of concession increase. If you reach your ball before they speak, you’ve lost.

2. The fake-out

One of my favorites is to step into the ball and get ready to make a lackadaisical attempt to tap it in. Essentially, you’re indicating that you assume it’s good and forcing them to disagree. Once your partners see you slowly stepping in with one foot, they’ll often tell you to pick it up. If they don’t and it goes in, even better (power move). If you miss, you might get a retroactive pity gimme.

3. Search for the ball marker

A classic move for a gimme-beggar is to rattle the tees in your pocket as you “search” for a marker. Again, this creates the awkwardness that leads to your partners caving. Sometimes, this rummaging happens naturally, but other times it takes some acting. Give it a few seconds, don’t get carried away.


Ben Jared

4. Need me to move it?

If you lag it next your partner’s marker, or in his or her line, take a few moments to awkwardly size up the putt. Get ready to hit it, then step back. “Am I going to be in your line?” “Do you need me to move it?” If you invaded their space just enough, then they might tell you to get rid of it.

5. Fire a shot early

If you’re a more confrontational type, this is the one for you. When you’re not given a putt early in the round, make an innocent remark. “Oh, it’s gonna be that kind of day?” Delivery is key here—be sure to laugh about it. You’re planting the seed so that the next time you have a short putt, they’ll know better.

6. Give plenty of putts

When I’m not feeling great about my short putting, I’ll concede plenty of putts to my opponent. How generous you are sets the tone for the match. If you’re giving them everything inside of four feet, it’s hard for them to hold firm on seeing you hole out.

7. Good, good?

If you have a high tolerance for awkwardness, then offer up a “Good, good?” when you and your opponent have similar putts. Sure, it’s their right to say no, but the tension might pressure them into agreeing.

Once again, you can listen to the entire episode of the Golf IQ podcast, here, and check out previous episodes below.