Most of us like to play golf because it’s a game of leisure. Don’t get us wrong; golf is most definitely a sport since it requires muscle use and mental capacity. However, it’s not the most physically demanding sport. Though, sometimes we want a little bit more competition than a classic game can give us. A friendly match against friends not only gives you a chance for bragging rights but also makes you better!
When considering playing a friendly golf betting game, it’s important to take everyone’s handicap into consideration so that the playing field is fair. For example, if your handicap is 12 and your partner’s is 15, your partner should be spotted one stroke on the three most challenging holes. Handicaps for each hole can be found on your scorecard. A match like this is called “net” scoring, and a match where no strokes are given is called “gross” scoring.
You’re likely not going to be wagering a million dollars on a weekend afternoon, but you can still spice up your game with a friendly wager. With there being so many golf betting games out there, we put together a list of popular golf betting games ranging from basic to complex. But be careful; these games could leave your wallet a little lighter or heavier, depending on the outcome. So, let’s take a look!
The golf betting game, Umbrella, is a two vs. two partners’ game. Six potential points are available on each hole: two for low score; two for low total; one for closest to the pin in regulation; and one for birdie. If one team gets all six points, that’s called an Umbrella. The win total doubles to twelve, mushrooming in size, like how an umbrella opens.
Stroke play is one of the most popular golf betting games played in the U.S. In stroke play, each player will count all their strokes throughout the round and add them together at the end. The winner is the golfer with the lowest score in total.
There are several different versions of the golf game Wolf. We’re going to go over the most common version. Wolf requires a minimum of three players. The one thing that stays consistent through all versions of this game is the tee-off order rotates from one hole to the next. After hitting first, the first player has the choice to go against the group solo or select a partner after watching each of the following players hit. If they’re feeling confident, the first player also has the option to declare themselves the lone wolf before anyone takes a swing. If that’s done, the stakes then triple for that hole.
Match play is a game that counts how many holes a golfer has won against their partner—fun fact: this is the preferred golf game in the British Isles. The player’s total strokes only matter on a hole-by-hole basis. If the first player scores four on a hole and the second player scores a six, the first player is said to be “one up.” Whatever player wins the most holes in a match is the winner.
Hammer is a great golf game for those looking for a lot of competition. This game can be played with two golfers, one vs. one, or as a team game with two people on each team. As with many golf betting games, the rules vary. But the most common way people play is at each hole; players play for a specific score, but you can “hammer” your opponent at any point. If your opponent declines the hammer, they forfeit the hole. If they accept, the stakes double for that hole. For example, let’s say you hit a lousy shot yourself; your opponent can then hammer you back. It goes like this until the hole is completed.
The Stableford golf game is an alternative option to stroke play. Points are used to tally up a player’s score. There are variations to this game, but usually, one point is awarded for a bogey, two points for a par, three for a birdie, four for an eagle, and five for a double-eagle. The winner is the player with the highest amount of points at the end of the match.
Daytona is a two vs. two game that involves team scores. The team is registered as a double-digit number. So, let’s say you score a four and your partner scores a five; that counts as a score of 45. If your two opponents make a five and a six, they have a score of 56. The difference between 45 and 56 is eleven, so eleven is the number of points you win for that hole. Things get interesting if anyone makes a birdie. If this were to happen, your opponents’ score would invert. This means the higher digit goes first, turning a 56 into a 65. At this point, the difference between your two scores (45 and 65) is now twenty. This leads to a significantly larger win.
The Chapman golf betting game involves two-person teams. Each player from each team tees off. The first player then hits the second person’s second shot, and vice versa. After the best secondary shot is chosen, the other shot is played until the ball ends up in the hole.
Nassau is another popular golf betting game. It can either be played head-to-head or with teams of two players that are set against each other. Nassau is more often than not played using match play. The score on the front nine is worth one bet, the back nine score one bet, and the 18-hole total is another bet.
Best-ball is a game for those who will be playing with four players. The players will be split into teams of two. The lowest score of each team is counted on each hole. For example, if the first player of team one makes five and the second player of team one makes four, the score of four is recorded for team one on that hole. This game is often played in a match-play format.
Hole-by-Hole Opt Out
You may have heard from fellow players that matches are decided on the first tee before the opening shots are struck. We’ve all been part of this when it becomes very obvious that one side simply doesn’t stand a chance in this match. In poker, that’s known as “drawing dead.” No one wants to draw dead out on the course. When playing matches against people outside of a usual group, some propose an opt-out option as a precaution. At any time during the round, after a hole is completed, a hypothetical white flag can be waved, resulting in the end of the match.
Scramble is one of the more fun golf-betting games on this list. It encourages lower scores and can be played with anywhere from two to four players. At the start, each player hits a tee shot. Whoever has the best shot is chosen. All players hit from the spot where the first best shot was chosen. After everyone hits, the best shot is again selected. The process is repeated until the ball ends up in the hole. This is an excellent game for company fundraisers or less competitive tournaments where the whole point is to have fun.
Alternate shot is one of the most difficult golf betting games you can play. Teams of two alternate shots until the ball ends up in the hole. If the first player of team one tees off, the second player of team one hits the second shot. In the traditional format, one player tees off on even holes and the other on odd holes. Alternate shot match is an excellent game for foursomes when all players are around the same skill level.
We speak from experience when we say that betting on the golf course is extremely fun. However, it can get out of hand. What can start out as a friendly game amongst friends can quickly turn sour if the amount of money that’s being exchanged hits an uncomfortable amount. To keep friendships intact, there are a few things that we suggest you keep in mind.
Before the round starts, make sure that everyone in the group understands what the game is that they’re playing and that they’re comfortable with the amount of money being put up. It’s also important that everyone agrees on how many strokes each player is getting to avoid any accusations. Setting a limit on the amount of money a player can lose might also help keep things civil. If you ever find yourself uncomfortable with the amount of money you might lose or not understanding the game, then it’s always best to decline and opt for a nice day out on the course.
Instead of trying to achieve your lowest score every time you hit the green, try playing some different games to keep things fresh and provide a little friendly competition. Whether you’re just playing for a beer in the 19th hole or a few dollars, responsibly adding a friendly wager to your round is fun and can make you a better player!