Golf and gambling go hand-in-glove for many golfers. Money games, or side bets, are part of the round at many friendly group outings. The wager can be as large or small as you want, and the bets as varied as you can imagine. Below are 10 of the most common side games in golf.
For many more betting games, plus more in-depth explanations, see our Glossary of Golf Tournament Formats and Betting Games.
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The Nassau is three bets in one: low score on the front nine, low score on the back nine and low score over the full 18. The $2 Nassau is perhaps the most common bet among golf buddies.
Win a hole, win a set amount of money from your buddies. Skins games are quite simple at base, but the value of holes can increase if those competing halve a series of holes since the value carries over, causing the pot to build.
Round Robin, also known as Hollywood or Sixes, is a betting game for groups of four that involves two members of the group teaming up against the other two. The catch is that partners rotate every six holes.
Garbage is also known as Dots
or the Dot Game (and for good measure, Junk or Trash). It's actually a compilation of lots of little bets - things such as birdies, long drive on a hole, closest to the pin on a hole are worth positive points; things such as double-bogies and hitting into water subtract points. Each point is worth a set amount. Add up the points at the end of the round and pay up. (Some groups wind up with literally dozens of things - barkies
, etc. - that are worth points in Garbage, so bookkeeping can become complicated.)
Bingo Bango Bongo awards points throughout the round for three different accomplishments: hitting the green first, being closest to the pin (once all balls are on the green), and being first to hole-out. At the end of the round, points are totaled and the differences are paid out. (It can also be used as a tournament format
Wolf is one of the classic golf betting games for groups of four, but it gets a little complicated. Players rotate as the "Wolf." On each hole, the player designated as the Wolf has to choose whether to play 1 against 3, or 2 on 2; and if 2 on 2, then the Wolf has to choose a partner. The Wolf can win or lose more money by going it alone.
Las Vegas is a game for teams of two players each. Each player on a side plays his own ball, and the two scores are combined on each hole. Not added together, but strung together. For example, the scores of one side are 4 and 5, so the team score is 45. Set a money value for each point. But be careful - winnings and losings can add up very
quickly in this game.
Aces and Dueces, or Acey Ducey, is a bet in which there is a winner, two modest losers, and one big loser on each hole. It's a game for groups of four, obviously. The low scorer on each hole wins a certain amount from each of the other three players; while the high scorer on each holes owes
each of the other three.
Gruesomes is betting game that pits 2-person teams against each other. Both team members tee off, then the other team gets to choose which of the drives your side has to play. Obviously, they'll choose the worst - or most gruesome - of the two drives.
Criers and Whiners is known by many different names (including No Alibis, Wipe Out and Play It Again Sam), but the gist is the same: It's a game of mulligans for those players who are always crying and whining about that handful of shots they screwed up. "If only I could hit that one again ..." The number of do-overs golfers get in Criers and Whiners is based on handicap index.