Most Popular Golf Betting Games and Side Bets
10 Friendly Wagers for Golfers Who Enjoy Having a Little Money on the Line
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.
Here are 10 of the most common side games, or friendly wagers, in golf.
(For many more betting games, plus more in-depth explanations, see our Glossary of Golf Tournament Formats and Betting Games.)
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 wager 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 because the value carries over, causing the pot to build.
Round Robin (Sixes, Hollywood)
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 (Dot Game)
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 bogeys 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, sandies, Arnies, etc.—that are worth points in Garbage, so bookkeeping can become complicated.)
Bingo Bango Bongo
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’s also a common tournament format for association playdays.)
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 one against three, or 2-vs.-2. If the Wolf chooses 2-vs.2, he gets to choose his partner. But the Wolf can win (or lose) more money by going it alone.
There’s a game similar to Wolf called Defender that works well for groups of three.
Las Vegas is a game for teams of two players each. Each golfer 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
Aces and Deuces, sometimes called Acey Ducey, is a betting game best for groups of four golfers. On each hole, the low score (the “ace”) wins an agreed upon amount from the other three players, and the high score (the “deuce”) loses an agreed upon amount to the other three players.
The ace bet is usually worth twice the duece bet, but groups can agree on any amount. Ties for either the ace or the duece mean that no money is paid for that bet on that hole; carryovers are optional at the discretion of the group members (decide before the round starts).
It works like this: Let’s say the ace bet is for $2 and the duece bet is for $1. On the first hole, Player A scores 4, B makes 5, C makes 5, D makes 6. A is the “ace” and wins $2 each from B, C and D. D is the “deuce” and owes $1 each to A, B and C. So A wins a total of $7 ($2 from each B, C and D, plus another $1 from D for being the “deuce”), B and C have a net loss of $1 (they each pay $2 to A but get $1 from D), and D pays out $5 ($1 to each for being the deuce, plus the $2 owed to A for his “ace” score).
Gruesomes is betting game that pits two-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. But you get to do the same to them!
Following selection of the tee balls, the teams play out the hole in standard alternate shot fashion, except that the player who hit the “gruesome” tee ball also plays the second shot for his or her side.
Criers and Whiners
Criers and Whiners (also called No Alibis, Wipe Out, Replay and Play It Again Sam) is a game of do-overs, or mulligans, that can be used from any point on the golf course: Handicaps are converted into free shots that are used during the round.
Say a player has a course handicap of 14. Rather than applying the handicap in the proper manner, the player is instead given 14 free shots to use at any point on the course, at any time during the round. Hit a bad shot off the second tee? Hit it again. Now you have 13 left.
The game can be played with full handicaps (as in the example above) but it is most common to use only three-fourths or two-thirds of handicaps. That forces the player to be judicious in using his replay strokes.
Two other conditions usually apply: The first tee shot of the day may not be replayed, and no shot can be replayed twice.