During the past few Ryder and Solheim Cups, the controversy of conceding short putts makes the news. For some reason, players think that putts of certain distances should be given regardless of the situations. Or golfers thought the tap in putt was conceded, when in fact it was not. Of course anytime a golfer breaches a rule there is a cost and in Match Play it usually results in the loss of a hole. Therefor, conceding a putt is a big thing and is at the sole discretion of the person or team not putting.
The latest controversy deals with Bryson DeChambeau thinking his opponents should concede a three foot putt. Their hesitancy sparked a response that is taking on a bit of a life of its own.
From the image, this looks to be a 3 to 4 foot putt. So, Hovland and Fleetwood decided that it was outside the comfort zone (theirs or DeChambeau’s) so, they made him putt the ball. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this decision and it is, in fact, part of the mental strategy employed by all golfers during Match Play events. In the the case of DeChambeau, his reaction was childish. If I was in the same situation as the Team Europe, I would be making my opponents putt everything as well.
My strategy is simple, early in the match I will concede one or two ‘3 or 4 foot putts’ in the hopes that the players becomes overconfident thinking that they do not have to worry about making them all day. Around hole 9 or 10, I make them prove that can make one in the hopes that they miss causing a mental doubt in their ability to sink the shorter putt. If they do miss, they will continue to prove to me that they can make one or two for the next 5 holes. Starting on hole 15, unless it is a tap in of a foot, I make them putt everything out if the match is within two holes either way. I never concede a putt to lose the match.
My strategy is designed to try and gain a mental advantage over my opponent. Sometimes it works and sometimes it fails. But, I am well within the rules and feel that it is all part of Match Play. Gaining the slightest of advantages at the higher levels of golf could determine the difference between winning a match or not. The aspect of giving a putt in Match Play is all part of the game.
Fast forward to the controversies around conceding putts at the Ryder and Solheim Cups. Most of the issues are rooted in the expectation of the person putting. They feel that the putt should be given and thus when it is not conceded, they get flummoxed. It bothers them and has resulted in the loss of a hole unexpectedly. Regardless of the result, the fact that the expectation of the putter was not met is the real controversy and that sounds like a personal issue to me.
Of course there is one way to fix the conceding putt challenges: Putt out every hole. It is that simple. Expect to putt out every shot and the issue surrounding conceding putts should be over because the onus to finish the putt is in the players hands, not their opponents.
Personally, I found that the last few issues on this topic are foolish. I realize that at the elite levels gaining any advantage is a potential boon, but these professional players have looped enough rounds to know better. Conceding putts is part of Match Play as the current rules stipulate, I guess the obvious question should be whether the rules should be changed or not. What do you think?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!