The beauty of golf’s unique handicapping system is that it allows people of all abilities to compete on level terms; anybody can beat anybody. So it makes perfect sense that some people choose to add some extra spice to their matches by playing for money.
With that in mind – and with the PGA Tour visiting Las Vegas this week – here are 10 of the best games you can play (responsibly) with your mates this summer ...
BINGO, BANGO, BONGO!
This is a great game, even for weaker players, because it rewards all areas of the sport …
The first player in the group to hit the green gets a point (bingo), the player closest to the pin gets a point (bango) and the first player to hole out gets a point (bongo).
Tally your total points at the end of the round and reward the winner however your group sees fit (it could be a bottle of wine, shouting lunch or a predetermined sum of money).
This is easily one of the most common games on the golf course – and it doubles as one of the best to play for cash.
Divide your group into two-person teams and have each player complete the hole as normal. At the end of the hole, the lowest score recorded by each team is jotted down, while the higher score is discarded.
You can either assign a value to each hole or play for one lump sum awarded at the end of the round.
Not only does this game provide plenty of entertainment, it also enables players to become more versatile with their equipment.
Here’s how it works … Get your foursome together and have each member name one club they would like to use throughout the round.
You can play stroke play or match play and for as much money as you feel comfortable with. But each player is restricted to the four clubs (plus their putter) that were predetermined by the group.
This game (sometimes referred to as alternate shot) is almost as popular as Fourball and is one of the better social gambling games.
Select two-person teams and then decide who will tee off on the odd-numbered holes and who will tee off on the even-numbered holes. Once the ball is in play, take turns until the ball finds the cup.
Again, you can play to stroke or match play and for as much money as you all feel comfortable with.
One of the most prominent games in the States, a Nassau is essentially broken into three separate bets – low front nine score, low back nine score and low total score.
Let’s say, for example, you decide to play for a $5 Nassau in your foursome … The most you can lose is $15. But if you win all three bets, you walk away with $45.
This game is devised specifically for three players, where nine points are played for on each hole and five of those points are awarded to the winner.
If there is a clear second-placed player, they get three points while the final player gets one.
All ties are split equally and the total points gained by each player are tallied up at the end of the round to decide the winner of the pre-determined payout.
This is a variation of Skins – which we will discuss soon – where the first player to have the low score on a hole captures the rabbit (no ties).
If someone other than the holder of the rabbit is the low scorer on the next hole, the rabbit is released and will be up for grabs again on the following hole.
The aim of the game is to be the holder of the rabbit at key intervals of your game, which are to be decided by your playing group prior to teeing off.
This game is hard to beat. Playing as a foursome – in any scoring format – rotate your partner every six holes and use each stretch as separate bets.
By the end of your round, you will have played with every member of your group. So even if you lose your first match, you can still come out on top by winning your other two.
This game type can also be employed with the same partner but a new format every six holes.
This is probably the most common betting game in golf and it works by assigning a point-value or dollar amount to each hole.
Members of the playing group need to buy their way into each hole and the player with the lowest score wins the skin.
Ties mean that the skin is carried over to the next hole – and whoever becomes the next player to win a hole outright is awarded the skin for that hole as well as any skins that were previously unclaimed.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be, but this game is generally reserved for the higher rollers because of its unique scoring system.
RIGHT: You don’t need to play for huge sums of money like this. Wagering a bottle of wine or lunch/dinner in the clubhouse is just as fun. PHOTO: Getty Images.
Here’s how to play … Divide your group into two-player teams and complete the hole as normal. Next, you need to pair the scores of each team. So if your team scores a four and a three, your team total is 43.
The differential between the teams is then calculated and paid off after 18 holes. For instance, if “Team A” scored 45 on one hole and “Team B” scored 43, then Team A owes Team B the predetermined value of two points for that hole.