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What Does “In The Leather” Mean In Golf? – Explained!

what is in the leather in golf
what is in the leather in golf

Golf is known to be a technical sport full of expressions and technical terms that you may not know the meaning of. One of those expressions often thrown out in conversation and television broadcasts is the expression “In The Leather”.

If you are reading this article, you may wonder: What exactly does “In The Leather” mean in golf?

In this article, we will explain to you exactly what “In The Leather” means in golf, along with an example to solidify your comprehension.

What Does “In The Leather” Mean In Golf?

If your golf ball is “In The Leather”, it means its distance to the hole is less than the length between the base of the putter and the bottom of the putter grip. In casual golf, if the golf ball is “In The Leather”, then it can be deemed a “Gimme Putt”, meaning it is assumed you make the putt successfully without actually attempting it.

In the great game of golf, the term “In The Leather” is an expression that is common to hear in casual golf. Most golfers have heard of the expression “In The Leather” before, as it may come up in any golf round.

When you hear the expression “In The Leather”, it will generally be during a round of casual golf. The “In The Leather” rule does not apply to professional or competitive golf, so you should not hear the expression in those settings.

In golf, “In The Leather” is a casual golf rule some people use to speed up the pace of play by reducing the amount of putts need to be done. If your golf ball is “In The Leather”, then it is within a predefined distance to the golf hole such that you get a “Gimme Putt” for it, meaning you do not need to putt.

If you get a “Gimme Putt”, it means you are assumed to have successfully putt the ball and can pick it up, without actually attempting to putt it. You count the “Gimme Putt” as 1 stroke, as you would a normal putt that you actually take.

The actual distance used for the “In The Leather” rule depends on a few factors, such as the size of your putter, the size of your golf shaft grip, or the definition of “In The Leather” that you use.

In fact, “In The Leather” has 2 definitions, one of which was more prevalent in the past.

Back in the day, golf shaft grips were almost always made of leather, which is why the expression is “In The Leather”. In the past, the “In The Leather” distance was literally equal to the length of the leather golf grip, meaning a little over 10 inches in most cases.

This means that, in casual golf, if your ball was closer to the hole than the distance between the top and bottom of your putter’s leather golf grip, you could pick up the ball and assume you made the putt with success. It would be a “Gimme Putt”.

However, over time, and as leather grips started to be replaced with rubber shaft grips, the definition of the “In The Leather” distance changed to some people.

Nowadays, the most common “In The Leather” distance is equal to the length between the bottom of the putter and the bottom of the golf grip.

This newer definition of the “In The Leather” distance is essentially the opposite of the old one. In fact, in the new definition, instead of only considering the length of the shaft grip, you consider everything except the shaft grip.

When playing with a new group of people in a casual setting that uses “Gimme Putts” and “In The Leather” distances, you should make sure the group has a common understanding of which definition to use.

Down below, you can see the older and newer definitions of the “In The Leather Distance”.

In The Leather Distance Definitions
In The Leather Distance Definitions

In the image above, you can clearly see how the older definition includes only the grip, while the newer definition includes essentially everything but the grip.

To measure whether you are within the “In The Leather” distance, you do not use a measuring tape. In general, it is much simpler to simply place the club head of your putter in the cup and to turn it around it to see if your ball is within “The Leather”. Make sure not to damage the turf, the cup, or the hole.

A caveat to this rule is that if you are playing with a very tall player, they may have a significantly longer putter, which could give them a significant short game advantage. To alleviate this issue, you can let the very tall player use the group’s putter that is closest to average length in the group.

An important note to mention is that the “In The Leather” rule only applies to certain people in casual golf who welcome it. Some casual players use this rule to speed of the pace of play, but some other casual players prefer not to use “Gimme Putts”, opting instead to play every putt.

If your group uses “In The Leather” distances, then you should all agree on which definition to use in order to not have misunderstandings mid-round. Different people may prefer different definitions.

In professional and competitive golf, there is no notion of “In The Leather” distance in stroke play because golfers are expected to attempt every putt. In competitive golf, players need to earn their putts. In casual golf, many “Gimme Putts” are sure to have become failed putts were they actually attempted.

If you would like to lower your golf score and improve your chances of landing your ball within the “In The Leather” distance, you can read our guide: How To Improve Your Golf Score? – 9 Pro Tips.


There you go! After reading this article, you have learned exactly what the term “In The Leather” means in golf. You also got to read an example to further improve your understanding of the meaning of “In The Leather”.

Do you have any other words you wish to know more about? Do you use the “In The Leather” casual rule to award “Gimme putts”? Do you prefer the older or the newer “In The Leather” distance? Let us know in the comments down below!

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