Suzann-Pettersen-Solheim-CupThere was a controversy over a “gimme” putt at the Solheim Cup and Norway’s Suzann Pettersen got slammed for it.

For my non-golfing readers, a player can concede their opponent’s next putt – one that is usually so short it’s virtually certain of being made anyway – by saying something like “that’s good.”

On the 17th hole of close match, American Alison Lee thought she’d heard one of her European opponents (either Pettersen or Charley Hull) say “that’s good”, so she picked up her 18-inch putt.  But neither Pettersen nor Hull had said it, so the Americans lost the hole and eventually the match.

The controversy stems from the fact that almost all competitors, especially professionals, concede 18-inch putts.  In fact, if your friends don’t give you an 18-inch putt, you need new friends.

But I’m not surprised this controversy was about Pettersen and failure to concede a putt.  I once scored for her in a match and was mortified by her behavior.  She’d consistently walk off the green before her opponent had completed the hole.  Once, her opponent (I think it was Paula Creamer) literally had to look around for Pettersen so she could pick up a 6-inch putt.  But she couldn’t find her because Pettersen had left the green long ago and was already on the next tee!   So Creamer had to make a 6-inch putt.  I’m sure she was fuming.

Suzann Pettersen broke what I maintain is the biggest rule in golf – “sportsmanship first”.  She had won this controversial hole, but in doing so may have lost her reputation.

In her defense, I just saw that she has now apologized – a seemingly heartfelt apology.  So maybe she’s learned – err on the side of graciousness when giving putts.  And whatever you do, don’t leave the green before your opponent has finished the hole.  It’s tantamount to turning your back on someone in the middle of a conversation.