Wagering on the golf course is commonplace and golfers have come up with some other exciting games to make things even more interesting.
The Nassau is the most common. The golfers or teams play for a set amount on the front nine, back nine and 18. It can get interesting when presses–new bets from that point that run concurrently–come into play. The type of scoring is up to the individuals—stroke or match play, best-ball, scramble or alternate shot, full handicaps or no handicaps. Sometimes greenies, closest to the pin on the par 3s, and sandies, getting up and down from the sand for par; are added as side bets.
Skins are also popular. The lowest score on a particular hole wins. It gets interesting when you allow carryovers and a lot of holes are tied. Net scores are usually used, but gross scores can be used if players have similar handicaps.
Wolf, also known as Captain’s Choice; Crew or Boss, is another interesting game, usually reserved for foursomes or fivesomes. One player, based on an established order, has the choice of teeing off first. Then he watches and can pick a partner immediately after that player hits a tee shot—not waiting to see how all of them hit. Or after all the players have hit, the player can elect to “wolf it” and take on all the others by himself, doubling the bet in the process. A brave version of this game is where the first player can elect to “lone wolf” it after he hits his drive, tripling the bet. The game is best when played with players of about the same handicaps, but handicaps can be used to even the playing field.
Round Robin, also known as Sixes or Hollywood, is where you play six holes with each member of your foursome, using the best-ball format, with or without handicaps. In another version, combined Stableford points could be used for each match.
Las Vegas is not a game for the timid and can turn into big money. Two-man teams play each other. If team A has a par 4 and a bogey 5, its score is 45. Two bogies by the other team would result in a score of 55. It gets interesting when one of the teams gets a birdie as the other team’s two scores are then flipped, turning a 5 and a 4 into 54 instead of 45. Be careful about the value of each point.
Another Vegas style game places the value of holes based on yardage, winning a 550-yard par 5 gets your team 550 points while a 178-yard par 3 is worth only 178 points. It might get expensive at even 25 cents a point. An interesting way to determine teams on each hole is to pair up the players who are closest together off the tee. If the first player slices out of bounds, you can bet the other three are going to be aiming left.
Acey Duecey is a game for foursomes where the low score (the ace) wins an agreed on amount from each of the other three players, and the high score (the duece) loses an agreed amount, usually half of the ace bet to the other three. Ties can be eliminated or, for the brave, can be carried over to the next hole.
Bingo Bango Bongo involves players getting one point for the first to get on the green (bingo), one point for being the closest to the pin once all the balls are on the green (bango) and one point for being the first to hole out (bongo). One version gives a double bonus or six points if a player sweeps all three on a hole. The points tend to even out usually.
Mulligan & Recall can be fun for foursomes. Each player gets one mulligan per side to use at any time he wishes. However, the other team can recall a shot and have the player hit again one time per side.
In a scramble, the best shot of a group is the one selected to be played until the ball is holed. Sometimes, there will be requirements to use so many drives from each player.
Gruesomes involves a two-man team playing usually from the worst of their two drives as selected by their opponents. The format can allow both to finish out from that position or to play out in alternate shot fashion.
In a shamble, the partners play out the hole from the best of their tee shots, usually getting only half of their handicaps. In one version at many charity events now, the low gross score is combined with the low net.
A good game for threesomes is “9.” On each hole, the lowest score gets five points, the second best three points and the worst score one point. In cases of a tie for the low score, each player gets four. In case of a tie for the second best score, each player gets two points.
Like the card game, golf’s version of bridge, involves bidding. A flip of the coin can determine who gets first chance to bid. That player (or team) announces the score that he thinks he will make on that hole. Another player or team can allow the bid to stand or bid lower if it wishes, thereby doubling the initial wager. It’s dangerous, but the first bidder can always go even lower and double the bet again.
If you have not tried some of these games, give them a try. Just keep the bets reasonable.