Whether you are a high handicapper or a scratch golfer, gambling on the golf course is something that can be enjoyable for everyone. Gambling on the golf course is fun for different people for different reasons. I personally feel that it adds importance to each shot. For someone that has played some competitive golf, putting a few dollars on the line gives me the feeling of playing for something. I also think that it helps prevent the "habitual rule breaker" of the group to stay in line and follow the rules of golf. You know the guy. He always seems to score a few strokes lower than he really did, strictly because he didn't follow a few of the obvious rules. Don't get me wrong; I love the go out, have fun, and enjoy the afternoon type of round. However when you are out with a group of friends that are competitive and are all pretty decent golfers, I believe throwing a few dollars on the line can be a great way to make the round that much more enjoyable. I am in no way saying that your goal should be to take all of your friends' money and laugh in their face. I am simply saying that a friendly wager to make the game a little more interesting and to add a little more importance to the score is never a bad thing. I am going to give you a few games you can play on the course that are easy to wager on.
An important thing to remember is that the type of game you choose should really be determined by the group of players you are playing with. If you have one player in the group that is much better than the rest, some of these games are not as fair to the players that are not as good.
In these descriptions I will be referring to dots or points. This is how you will track who is winning and with each game the point or dot amount should be decided before the game starts.
1. Bingo-Bango-Bongo. This game is a favorite of the older generation and has been around for many years. Each hole has a total of three points available. The first point is for the person who hits the longest drive (the longest drive in the fairway should win the point. If nobody hits the fairway, point goes to overall longest drive). The second point is for the person who is closest to the hole after everyone is on the green (obviously playing in order is extremely important). The third point is for the person that makes the first putt. For par threes, instead of the longest drive the first point is given to the person who is closest to the green after the original tee shot. Each person adds up their total amount of points and then you pay each person the difference in total points.
Bingo-Bango-Bongo is a good game for a group with a wide range of handicaps. A player that is not hitting the ball well can still come out ok if they are performing well around the greens.
2. Snakes: The purpose of this game is to penalize 3 putting. Every time a person 3 putts, they receive a snake. Those snakes then stay with you every hole until you wager them against another person in the group. If you wager a snake on an opponent and they three-putt, your opponent not only receives a snake for three putting but they also receive the snakes you wagered on them. However, if Player B does not 3 putt then the snakes that were wagered then double. Example: Player A 3 putts the first green. Player B does not. On the second green Player B has a lengthy putt and Player A decides to wager his snake on the fact that Player B will 3-putt. If Player B does not 3 putt then Player A will then have 2 snakes because his snakes double. If Player B does 3 putt, he not only receives a snake for 3-putting but he also receives the snakes Player A wagered on his putt. When you wager snakes you have to wager all of your snakes, there is no splitting of the snakes, and they have to be wagered on only one player at a time.
Snakes is a great game because it's fun to play mind games like hissing at your playing opponents while they are lining up their lengthy putts. Some people fold under the pressure of this game and don't enjoy themselves, so choose wisely who you razz during this game. Also, you should set the point amount for "snakes" by the difficulty of the greens of the course you are playing. If you are at a course with small, slower greens then feel free to bump up the price of snakes.
3. Vegas. First split into two teams. This is played by combining the two net scores by each team to make one two-digit number. For example, if on Team 1, Player A makes a net 5 and his teammate makes a net 6, the scores would be combined (low number first) and their collective score would be 56. If Team 2's score was 45 (a net 4 and a net 5) then the second team would win the hole by 11 points. If a player makes a net 10 or higher, then the high number goes first. A key point to this game is that if a player makes a birdie then the numbers on the opposite team then flip to the highest number first. So using the example above, if Team A has a birdie then instead of Team 2 having a 45 (a net 4 and a net 5) then it would be flipped to a 54.
With Vegas you want to make sure you have a group of somewhat equal players. This game can get out of hand quick if someone is really struggling and putting up big numbers. If a team records two net 4's and the other team records two net 6's, that is a difference of 22 points. You don't want to play for $1 points if you think there is going to be that much disparity between the two teams.
4. Nassau. By far the most popular format of betting on the golf course. This is basically a way to break up the betting into three different parts. The front 9, the back 9 and the entire 18. If you hear someone say "want to play 5, 5, and 5?" That means that between the two competitors they are going to wager $5 for the front 9, $5 for the back 9, and $5 for the entire 18. The match is played using match play format. Another aspect for this format is "pressing." If a player falls behind 2 holes or more in any of the matches, they can elect to "press," and another $5 bet begins at that point. If the player "presses" for the bet on the front 9 then the "press" bet will be done after the front 9. So if a player falls behind 2 holes after 5 holes, and elects to "press" on the tee box of hole 6, that bet will only be 4 holes long.
There are a few things to be aware of when betting on the golf course. (1) You have to have class when you lose, and especially when you win. There is no need to rub it in your competitors face. Playing bad golf and losing money is embarrassing enough. (2) Do not bet outside of your financial means. Golf is supposed to be fun and if you are betting too much then you might take the fun out of it. (3) You should also always pay your losses, no matter what the amount is. If you lose $2, then pay your $2. What's the point of wagering if you are not going to pay your bet? (4) It is common courtesy to not collect your winnings until the bar, or parking lot. It is not classy to ask for your money immediately after the round.
There are ton of different games to pay on the golf course. If you would like to hear more about what games are fun to play on the golf course comment on the Missing Links Facebook page and tell us what kind of game you want to read about. We appreciate feedback. Please continue to read and keep playing golf at our local courses!