Custom Search

The golf instruction website for the rest of us!  


Your buddy just invited you to play golf in place of their regular fourth who can't make it. You'd love to play, but you know they play for money and you're not really sure how these games work or how much you may stand to lose. Well fret no longer! We'll give you the low down on the most popular golf betting games and how they work.

If you came here looking for information on golf betting, click here. If not read on!



(The most popular weekend bet)

The Nassau is really 3 bets. You're betting on the lowest "score" on the front nine, the back nine, and the total for 18 holes. If you are playing a $2 Nassau and lose all three, you're out 6 bucks. Not bad considering how badly you played! The score is kept per hole, rather than by number of strokes. So if you make a 3 and your opponent makes 8, you still get only 1 point for that hole. Once you're down by more points than holes left in the match you've lost the bet for that nine. (3 pts down with 2 holes to play for instance.)To determine the winner of the "total" score for the 18 hole portion of the match you simply add up the total points won for the 18 holes.


  Where this can run into a bit more cash is when you start "pressing". When a player falls behind more than one point in any of the three matches it is usually agreed that they can call a "press". A press adds another bet from the point the press was called. It is up to the person behind to call the press, and he can do so when he is 2 or more holes down. The "old bet" is still there, and if you're not "dormi* " you can still win the original bet and the new one, but you can also lose both. It's not unusual for multiple presses to be running during a match. It pays to have someone keeping track of presses neatly on the scorecard.

*Dormi: being down as many holes as there are left in the bet. i.e. you are down 2 with 2 holes to play. The best you could do is tie.


Variations of the game

1. Automatic Presses: This is agreed to before the match begins and usually "kicks in" when one player or one team is down 2 holes (2 points) So if you lose the first 2 holes a new bet for the remaining 7 holes starts from the 3rd hole on. If you lost the next 2 a third press would start from the 5 hole on. (see how this can get expensive?) You can still win both bets if you can make up the two you are behind by the end of 9, so don't give up on that first one just yet!

2. Refusing a press: Unless otherwise stipulated only the team trailing can call a press, and the team leading doesn't have to accept the press. (usually frowned upon, but it is sometimes done. Especially if you came with $6 in your wallet and don't have the cash to pay if you lost both bets!) (You can not refuse a press in the "Automatic Presses" game described in #1.)

3. Controlling # of presses: In friendly games you can always agree on the first tee to control the number of presses in any game. Maybe limit to one or two per nine holes for instance.

4. Last 4 hole pressing only: This is another variation that helps keep the pressing from getting out of control. With this rule in place a player can only press on the last 4 holes of a match. (6,7, 8 & 9 for instance. and since you have to be 2 down to press, that automatically limits it to no more than 2 presses! Impressive!

5. Double up presses: This is a rule that can get expensive in a real hurry!, but if you like to gamble it's a lot of fun! A double up press means that if/when someone presses the bet on the press is automatically double the original bet. So if the original was $2, the press bet is now $4. If someone presses again that one is $8 and so on. You can also have a variation of this rule where presses are 1/2 of the original. Aimed at making the first bet the most important and keeping the bets from growing rapidly.


1. Bring enough money to pay even if you shoot your worst round ever! Nothing worse than losing and not having the money to pay, or worse yet having to call the match at some point because you don't have enough money to continue. Can't stress this one enough. If you go there short on cash you've put so much extra pressure on yourself that there's no way you'll shoot your best game.


2. Don't try to renegotiate strokes mid round. Nothing screams sore loser more than whining about the strokes you're giving. It's true that many times these matches are won and lost on the first tee before anyone takes a swing, during the negotiating of the strokes. But if you agreed to it, live with it. If you don't know the guys you're playing with you can always offer up the suggestion that "we can renegotiate the strokes after nine". Do this on the first tee box. This way if you're getting hustled by a pack of Sandbaggers you can bring it up after nine without incident.

3. Never intentionally run over someone's ball in the fairway with your golf cart unless you are absolutely sure you won't get caught. If caught laugh hard and act like you wanted them to see that. Be prepared to allow them to clean and place and maybe throw a club at you.




Playing "Junk" often goes hand in hand with any Nassau bet. Junk is usually 50 cents or a buck. Junk is a lot of fun, and if you make it "worth while" junk can add up to more than the original bet! As a low handicapper I always push hard for lots of junk and for the bet to be as large as possible. If you're a high handicapper you want the opposite! Junk is sometimes the only way a low handicapper can win anything at all. When you're giving strokes on every hole, and against multiple players, your odds of winning any given hole have dropped dramatically. This is why you never see a 2 handicap win the low net award at any golf tournament you've every played in!

Junk is broken down into: Birdies, Sandies, Barkies, Greenies and sometimes "Kitty's" (It's actually called something a little more adult and starts with a "P", but since we're PG-13 we'll go with "Kitty's")

Self explanatory. Make a natural birdie and get 1 junk point.
Hit a tree and still make par or better and get one junk point. Hit more than one tree and get multiple junk points. (only 1 tree per shot allowed)
Hit into any trap and still make par is a Sandy. If you hit into 2 traps and make par it's a double sandy etc.
A Greenie is won by the player closest to the pin on a par 3. The ball must be on the green and the player can take no more than 2 putts. 1 junk point.
A "kitty" is when your tee shot fails to make it past the ladies tee but you manage to save your dignity and par the hole. 1 junk point.
Usually worth 2 or 3 junk points
Hole in One Oh Please.
Arnies An "Arnie" is when you make a par without ever hitting the fairway. We usually don't play Arnies, as a lot of the other Junk kind of makes Arnies a bit redundant. It's named Arnie due to Arnold Palmer's ability to pull out a par from just about anywhere on the course.

I once played with a guy on a short par 5 who duck hooked his drive into the woods, hit a tree, and bounced back behind the ladies tee. He hit his next shot into a fairway bunker, his 3rd shot hit a tree near the green and landed in the green side bunker. He then holed out the bunker shot for a .....Double barkie, double sandy, birdie, "Kitty". 6 junk points on one hole!


This is a complicated game that I'm not particularly fond of, but here's the low down in the simplest way I can put it.

Wolf is played with 4 players. Each player takes his turn being the Wolf throughout the round. The Wolf Tees off first. He then can watch each player after him tee off and pick one to be his partner. He must pick his partner right after the guy tees off. (no waiting for everyone to hit!) If none of the other 3 tee shots are to the Wolf's liking he can choose to go it alone, and play against all 3 himself. All bets are doubled in this scenario, and if the Wolf loses he has to pay all 3 DOUBLE. But if he wins he gets double from all 3! Wolf is played with a "Best Ball" format. So if you pick one partner you are using your best of two scores vs. the other teams best of 2 scores. Got it?

You alternate on every hole who is the wolf. Since 4 people times 4 turns is 16 holes, 2 people will get to be wolf 5 times, which isn't fair. (the Wolf always has the advantage because he can choose his partner after he sees their tee shot.) So what is usually agreed to is that whomever has lost the most money at the end of 16 holes can be the Wolf for the last two. Pretty friendly for a pack of Wolves huh? This game can be fun if everyone understands the rules and you're playing for enough money that you have to think twice before going it alone.



(Fairly simple game to play, can be complicated to keep track of.)

The basic idea here is that you have a winner on each hole, two modest losers and one big loser. The player with the low score may win $1 from the guys with the 2nd and 3rd lowest score, while the person with the highest score pays the winner triple. Great game if you like to route against your buddies!



Bingo Bango Bongo awards points throughout the round for three different accomplishments. At the end of the round, points are totaled and the differences are paid out. Bingo Bango Bongo is a points based game that can be played by any number of players.

In Bingo Bango Bongo, three types of achievements are rewarded with a point. The first player in a group to get his ball on the green gets a point (bingo). The player in the group whose ball is closest to the pin once all balls are on the green gets a point (bango). And the player in the group who is first to hole out gets a point (bongo).

Add up the points at the end of the game, high points wins.

Bingo Bango Bongo gives weaker players a chance to earn points because what matters is being first at something. For example, all members of the group tee off on a par‑4. The player who hit the worst drive (farthest from the hole) plays first, and so has the first shot at winning the bingo point.

So, too, with closest to the pin.

The best players in the group are likely to be on the green in two (or three on a par‑5), while the weakest players might be chipping. The closest‑to‑the‑pin point is only earned once all balls are on the green, so the player who has hacked it up the fairway may be sitting just off the green and chipping ‑ giving that player a great chance to pick up the bango point.

Because of these factors (and because the first person putting will be the one farthest from the hole), strict etiquette must be enforced. The player who is away always plays first.

For a variation, throw into the mix that any player winning all three points on a hole wins double points


Fairways & Greens

Fairways & Greens is a betting game best for groups of golfers with similar handicaps.

The object is, of course, to hit fairways and greens. The catch is that you have to be the only player to hit the fairway (off the tee) to win the bet, or the only player to hit the green (in regulation) to win the bet.

Determine before the round the value of each fairway and each green. Each hole has two bets, one for the fairway and one for the green. If you're the only player in the fairway off the tee, you win that bet.

.If two or more players find the fairway, or two or more players are on the green in regulation, then that bet carries over to the following hole (ala skins).


Pick Up Sticks

Pick Up Sticks, a.k.a Bag Raid, is a match play game between two players. It's pretty simple: Every time a player wins a hole, his opponent gets to choose one club from his bag and remove that club from play.

Example: After A wins the first hole, B removes A's pitching wedge from play. For the rest of the round, A cannot use that pitching wedge.

Any club can be chosen, but most players give immunity to the putter (otherwise it would be the first club to go, and putting is hard enough without having to do it without a putter). The strategy is to first remove from your opponent's bag the clubs which he's most comfortable and best with.

Variations of the game include setting a maximum number of clubs that be taken out of play (say 3 or 4?)..or losing a hole allows you to return one of your own clubs to play rather than removing one of your opponents.

This can be a good game for learning creative shots and practicing draws, fades, punch shots and the like, because by the turn, unless you're winning every hole, you'll be playing shots for which you may no longer have the appropriate club. This game could do more to improve your game and feel than any other.



Switch can be a tournament format or a betting game. Either way, it involves 2‑person teams on which the players switch balls following the tee shots, then play out the hole using those balls.

For example, Players A and B tee off. Player A now switches to B's ball and vice‑versa. Player A continues playing that ball he's switched to until it is holed, as does B.

Switch can be played as stroke play or match play; the total strokes for both players can be used, or just the better ball of the two.


colorful flags bar separator


That's about it for now, this should get your through your match this weekend. Remember, most matches are decided on the First Tee Box before the first club is swung! Watch for Sandbaggers, don't play for more than you can afford, and don't give strokes to anyone you don't know if the stakes are anything but friendly! Now go get 'em Tiger!








I Suck At Golf