There's nothing better than crushing a drive down the middle of the fairway, dropping your second shot next to the pin leaving you a tap-in for a birdie… But, oh wait, there is something better! Gambling! Enter golf betting games.
Winning a little money to go along with that birdie. Let's face it, golf is fantastic but for some reason when I go out and play with my buddies, a friendly wager take it up a notch. We find ourselves betting on everything! Literally everything! It's gotten so bad that the last time we went, we actually bet on who the drink cart girl would speak to first. Yup, you read that right. We find that these wagers make the round a bit more exciting, and we leave the course with memories that we will retell for years to come.
That got me thinking.
Is there a place I can go that will give the ultimate list of possible golf betting games? I searched and searched and only found partial lists, so I decided to put one together… You're welcome, by the way, or (btw) as my kids would text.
I have put together the most comprehensive list of Golf Betting Games you can find. Keep in mind that you can pretty much bet on anything, and it doesn't always have to be monetary. Some of the best bets had my buddies doing absolutely absurd things when they lost. The key is to have fun. Golf is already amazing, but adding a little spice takes it to another level. Here is a list of golf betting games you can play with groups of 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, or more players:
Alternate shot is a somewhat tricky format. Especially after a few beers. Two-person teams simply alternate shots until the ball is holed. In the traditional format, one player tees off on even holes and the other on odd holes. Alternate shot match play is an excellent format for foursomes when all players have similar abilities.
I think this is one of the most fun golf betting games. You need to have a minimum of at least 3 people, and to start, you must set a minimum and maximum amount on each hole. Let's say it's $1 min and $50 max. Choose a banker for the first hole, preferably not the drunkest guy, and it'll rotate each hole. The banker tees off last for each hole, and each player determines how much they want to play the banker for that hole. For example, if Player 1 is the banker, Player 2 can play him for $5 on the hole, Player 3 can choose to play just $15, and Player 4 can play him for $25. Players 2-4 are not playing against each other at all; they're all playing individual matches against the banker. Whoever has the lowest score on the hole becomes the banker for the next hole, and ties are broken by the longest putt.
You can take this to the next level with a press, but only off the tee and before the banker hits. For example, if Player 3 hits it in the fairway, he can choose to press his $15 bet to $30 before the banker tees off. The banker can press back after hitting off the tee, but he must press everyone — not just whoever pressed him initially.
This is nothing new; it's just a way to team up and bet. The lowest score of each team is counted on each hole. So, for example, if player A makes five and player B makes four, the score of four is recorded for the team on that hole. This game is often played in a match-play format (see our Golf Terms article if this or any other terms in this article are unfamiliar to you).
This game is great for players with higher handicaps or hackers like me that tend to have the occasional blowup hole. Players' scores are simply their nine low scores on the card. Best nine is fun to play among multiple groups.
Best to Next
This is a team game similar to best ball, where players take their own shots but play as a tandem. The difference is that ties are broken by the highest individual score. This is an excellent game to prevent a lot of ties on each hole. The former team wins if one team goes 4-4 and the other goes 4-5.
Bingo Bango Bongo
Sounds like a game out of the Sopranos and is just fun to say. There are three points available on each hole, the "bingo" point is for the first on the green; the "bango" point, for the closest to the pin; and the "bongo" point, for the first one in the hole. Through a dollar value bet on each point.
Bisque can be played with just two players or among multiple groups. A variation on "net" scoring where players get additional shots relative to par on the most challenging holes, bisque allows players to instead choose the holes they want strokes on before the round. Stroke play scoring is used, and the lowest 18-hole score wins.
The Chapman format is similar to alternate shot but with a slight twist. You have to walk up to your ball like Charlie Chaplin. Just kidding. Each player on a two-person team tees off. Player A then hits player B's second shot and vice versa. After the best second shot is chosen, the alternate shot is played until the ball is holed.
Similar to a traditional Stableford, which is used in one tournament on the PGA Tour (Barracuda Championship) but adjusted to better include higher handicap players. In Chicago, each golfer begins the round with a score associated with their handicap, but be careful of sandbaggers in your group. Low handicappers begin with scores heavily in the negatives, while high handicappers begin with scores around zero. From here, everyone plays by the same scoring format, and the winner is the player who ends the round with the highest score.
The name of this game always perplexed me, but essentially, when playing games where points or units are used for scoring, players that are losing may want to increase the amount each point or unit is worth to win their money back. "Coughing" needs to be agreed upon by everyone in the game.
This is a foursome game with two-player teams. All four players will hole out, then check their scores. If they score the same on the hole, they will combine those digits for their score. For example, if each makes a 5, the score is 55 for the hole. If the score differs, par will be the guide for the round. If someone gets a par or better, note that the lowest number will go first. If a bogey or worse is made on a hole, the higher score goes first (so a bogey and a double bogey on a par 4 would equal a total of 65). At the end of the round, the lowest number wins.
Another three-player game in which two players compete on a team against one player, called the defender. Don't take this so seriously that you are swatting your opponent's putts out the hole like Dikembe Mutombo, but have fun with it. On every hole, the defender changes, and it is their job to ensure that he "defends" the hole by matching (or beating) the score of the two "attacking" players.
Dollar Per Hole
This is basically the simplest way to bet on the course? You just bet a dollar denomination on each hole, like $5 per hole, and each time a player or team (2 v. 2) wins a hole, they win a bet. Make things extra interesting by allowing the player or team that is behind to double the bet at any time.
Dots (Aka Trash)
Dots involves winning points. You earn points by doing different things on each hole, and you typically make a specific amount of money for each point. You can create the points and actions on each hole. Then, each player pays out based on the difference between their points and the other golfers in the group. Some examples of different "dots" are Sandy – your ball is in a bunker during a hole, and you still make par (1 point), and birdie – you make a birdie (1 point).
Add this to any other game that awards points for the low score on the hole; making birdies worth double the normal amount creates some volatility and adds pressure.
Greenies are awarded to the player that hits their tee shot closest to the hole on a par 3. No better way to hit my ball into the water than to bet closest to the pin.
Gruesomes is basically a way to make fun of whoever hits the worst drive. Each player on a team hits a tee shot, and the other team picks the worst tee shot from where the alternate shot is played until the ball is holed.
This game reminds me of Texas Holdem. This game is played 1-on-1 or 2-on-2. First, you create a set pot for each hole, let's say $20. Then, at any point to start the match, one player/team can "hammer" the other, which the other team can either "fold" — which means they lose the $20 and the hole is over — or the hole doubles in value to $40.
For example, let's say Team 1 hits a shot in the rough off the first tee while Team 2 hits it in the fairway. Team 2 would likely hammer it to $40, but if Team 1 hits a beautiful shot out of the rough to five feet from the hole, they can then hammer back the other team and make the hole worth $80. Back-and-forth it goes: If Team 2 then puts it to 10 feet from the hole and subsequently drains the putt, they would re-hammer Team 1 and make them drain their five-foot putt for $80.
High-low is a game for foursomes made of two-player teams. On each individual hole, the high scores and the low scores on each team each compete against each other for a point. For example, if players A and B score six and five and players C and D score four and three, players C and D earn a point for the lowest high score and the lowest low score for a total of two points.
Pits two teams of two against each other, in which both players combine their scores together, with the lower score coming first (a player shooting a 4 and his teammate shooting a 5 would equal a team score of 45 for the hole). After each hole, the team with the higher score subtracts from the team with the lower score. The difference in score equals the debt one team owes the other.
Let the Big Dog Eat! You can basically do this on every hole that isn't a par-3 or a massive dogleg, but in order for a long drive to count, it must end up in the fairway.
Match play is a format that tracks how many holes a player has won against their partner. A player's total strokes only matter on a hole-by-hole basis. For example, if player A scores four on a hole and player B scores 6, player A is said to be "one up." Whichever player wins the greater number of holes in a match is the winner.
Like a traditional scramble with a twist. The golfer whose tee shot is selected cannot contribute again until the team has reached the green.
A Nassau bet is probably the most common golf betting game you will encounter on the course. The key to the Nassau golf betting game is that you have 3 separate bets. One for the front 9, one for the back 9, and one for the entire 18. Typically, you also play for $1 for each birdie made.
An excellent game for threesomes where points are allocated on each hole for lowest to highest scores. The player with the lowest score earns five points, the second lowest score three points, and the highest score gets one point. If two players tie for the low score, they each receive four points, and the highest score is one point. If two players tie for the high score, they each get two points, and the lowest score is awarded five points. The player with the most points at the completion of the round wins.
Ones is a game that includes the Alphabet. O.N.E.'s is a net game where a player's total score is determined by adding scores together only on holes that end in O, N, or E (holes 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18).
Same as an original scramble, but with the sad truth that you are golfing alone. A single golfer hits two shots and plays the better of their shots until the ball is in the hole. The last time I played a one-man scramble, I ended up owing myself $20.
Works well when you are playing a Nassau or Triple Six where there are multiple matches within a round; adding presses allows players to either a chance to bet "double or nothing." For example, if you are two down after four holes on the front nine of a match playing Nassau bet, then you may choose to "press" the front nine. When you press, the original bet still stands, but an additional match is started. If you lose the initial bet but win the press, then you break even on the front nine.
The main point of this game is to capture the rabbit by winning the hole outright. This player will hold onto the rabbit until another player wins the hole. Also, it is essential to note that the person who walks off the ninth and 18th green win equal stakes of the money. In this version of rabbit, the rabbit is set free from each hole and up for grabs. Betting can be placed on 9- or 18-hole rounds. You can also have a pot, so the one holding the rabbit on the 18th hole takes the pot of cash.
Riding Time is usually played at the same time as another game (Nassau or 6-6-6) and would be considered an "add-on" wager. The goal is to keep honors (keep the tee box) for as long as possible. For every hole that you earn or keep honors, you win a bet.
A player is awarded a "sandy" anytime he gets up and down from a bunker in two shots.
How to play: This is a team game in which there are multiple ways to win on each hole. The most popular version is five-point scotch, in which five separate bets are going at a time:
- The lowest score on the hole
- The total score on the hole for the team
- Closest to the pin in regulation (must be on the green)
- The lowest number of total putts
If two players make a birdie, it will cancel the bet for all players. Likewise, if both teams score a 4, there are no points awarded for the lowest score on the hole.
Who hasn't played some form of a scramble? In this game, foursomes compete against one another for the lowest cumulative score by hitting from the group's best shot until the ball is in the hole. The group with the lowest score at the end of 18 holes wins.
I threw this in here because at any point, during any game, or on any hole, a side bet can be made. Last year I was playing with buddies in Florida, and two raccoons ran onto the green in front of us. We quickly bet which raccoon would head back into the woods first. Mine lost, took my ball, and I was out $5. Thanks, raccoon!
Skins (Aka Cuts)
You can play either gross or net skins. If you play gross skins, scratch golfers will have an advantage. The goal in the Skins golf betting game is to have the lowest score on a hole of everyone playing. If two players tie for the lowest score, no one wins a skin on that hole. To pay winners, you can either collect ahead of time and create a prize pot or pay out an amount for each one (each skin). Skins is one of the best golf betting games to do in combination with others. For example, you can have a skins game in your larger group (multiple foursomes) while playing a Nassau bet in each individual foursome.
6-6-6 (Triple Six)
6-6-6 is a slight modification of a Nassau bet and is perfect if you can't agree on the appropriate teams (2 v. 2). Every 6 holes is a new bet, and you switch partners each time. Player A & Player B are partners for holes 1-6. Player A & Player C are partners for holes 7-12. Player A & Player D are partners for holes 13-18. Every 6 holes constitute a unique bet, similar to Nassau; if you play a 5&1 6-6-6 golf betting game, you are betting $5 per match plus $1 for birdies.
A three-player game in which every hole is worth six points, which are split between the players according to their score on the hole.
As opposed to scoring low, the goal of a Stableford is to record the highest possible score among the group. Golfers don't count strokes; instead, each scoring outcome is given a point value (for example, one stroke above par would be zero points, a par, one point, a birdie, two points, etc.). At the end of the round, the player with the highest score wins.
St. James Roll
In this game, points are divided based on each player's finishing position on the hole. If you beat the remaining three members of your group, that's three points. Beat only two of them? That's two points. Beat one of them? That's one point. Beat none? No points for you!
Stroke play is the most commonly played game in the United States. In stroke play, players each count all their shots throughout the round and add them up at the end. The winner is the player with the lowest total score.
A traditional scramble, but the foursome must play four tee shots from each player before the end of the round.
Divide your foursome into two groups of two. Each hole is match play, with the caveat being you always hit from the best shot on your team. So, if you slice your drive into the woods but your partner smacks it straight down the fairway, you would both shoot your second shot from the more advantageous location. The winning team in terms of strokes (or you could make it skins-based and do it by hole) wins the pot.
Who Will Get the Drink Cart Girl to Speak to Them First
I had to include this! It's probably the dumbest game on this list, but it certainly made us laugh. The goal is to not speak at all when she pulls up and see who she addresses first.
To start, establish the tee-off order, and you must follow this order throughout your round. One player will be "the wolf" for each hole, and they must tee off first. After "the wolf" tees off, they watch the other players and must pick their partner based on their tee shot. They must select or pass on each player before teeing off. Once they pick a player, this golfer is their partner for this single hole. All other players are trying to beat "the wolf," and the player "the wolf" picked. On the next hole, the process starts over, but with a different person playing the role of "the wolf."
Listen. When I first heard about this, I just assumed this was playing the game of Wolf and drinking Scotch, so needless to say, I was playing this wrong for years. What I learned is it's actually a combination of the two games and has eight possible points per hole:
- 2 points for the low ball (lowest individual score on the hole)
- 2 points for low total (the sum total of team score)
- 2 points for a birdie (if no birdie is made, no points are rewarded, and no blitz is available)
- 2 points for proximity (closest to the hole, must be in regulation)
Teams can win anywhere from 0 to 8 points on the hole and up to 16 if they blitz all categories. That refers to one player or team winning all points on a hole, which would then double. So, for example, if each point in wolf scotch is worth $5 and a team blitzes the other, they would win 16 points, or $80, on the hole.
I hope this list makes your next round of golf a little more enjoyable. The point is to always have fun, so make sure you don't take any of these golf betting games too seriously. Golf is already great, but our mission is to make it even more enjoyable!