Five golf games you can play at home

April 02, 2020

We are in Day … actually I forgot what day this is . . . of quarantine, and amid larger and more consequential concerns, you may be confronted with a litany of smaller ones—how to work at home with small kids; what movies to watch at night, that sort of thing.

To that second less-vital category, one could add finding ways to satisfy your competitive appetite. Putting aside the ongoing debate about playing real golf on a real golf course, there are still ways to approximate golf competition within your own home, ranging from slightly elaborate (you need a basic launch monitor), to very simple (you need a floor). Below are five golf competitions one might consider for around the house.

Bocce Chipping


The game can be played with two or more players. You need a little patch of grass, but not much, and a target as simple as a tennis ball thrown to different spots. Each golfer chips three balls as close to the target as possible. The player closest to the target gets one point, and is also awarded points for any additional ball inside the next nearest-player’s ball. The player who gets points also sets the next target. Play to 11, or 21, or until dinner is ready. As in real golf, make sure you can identify your ball so as not to confuse with a competitor’s.

Bull’s Eye


Short on space but need to get in some swings? All you need is shelving of some kind. In the living area, clear off a bookcase; for those faint of heart, a garage will do. Place 10 plastic solo cups throughout the shelves/mantles/ledges, ideally at different heights. Using plastic golf balls, attempt to knock over each cup in as few as swings as possible. The open-top cup can be facing skyward, but if you really want to get nuts, turn them towards you. The competition is target shooting, sure, but it’s also practice at finding your ideal window for shape and trajectory. And if you have short ceilings, no worries: You can still get a lot of work in—and more importantly, have a lot of fun—with a three-quarter swing.—Joel Beall

High Jump

Using a wedge (preferably lob or sand), attempt a series of flop shots over various objects, each task escalating in height. Start simple, chipping over a laundry bag, bush, and chair, and work your way up to umbrellas, swingsets and trees. (To those who want to hurdle the garage or house, we say “God speed.”) In theory, High Jump is scored in the same vein as HORSE. But I’ve found another way to tally up your mark: Time. Specifically, how long I can go before getting yelled out for shanking Titleists into our siding.—J.B.

Cross-Country Putting


Played with a practice cup, or a mug, or even the stray leg of a table or chair. You need a putter, a ball, and understanding family members or roommates who don’t mind you playing through the living room. One player charts the course, preferably across multiple rooms and surfaces, to a set target. Fewest strokes wins the hole, and then the next target is arbitrarily set. Play a 6-, 9- or 18-hole match, or until the dog falls asleep in your path.

Swing Speed Challenge


Figuring out a short game competition indoors is pretty easy. But driver? That’s a bit more difficult. One thing you can do—if your ceilings are high enough – is have a swing speed competition. There are some swing speed measuring tools out there,that record your swing speed without you actually needing to make contact with a golf ball. Find a spot in your garage or in your yard where you can make a full, uninhibited driver swing, and see what numbers you can hit. If someone in your house plays golf, make it a competition: Set a baseline swing speed by taking your normal swing and recording that swing speed. Then see how much each of you can increase that speed in five swings. Take the average of your swings and see whose swing increased by the most percentage. Another option is to test consistency: Take 10 swings, recording the speed each time, and see whose swing slowed down the least. In playing around and keeping track of the numbers, you might find you’re capable of generating more swing speed than you realized. Don’t have access to a launch monitor? You can do a simple scaled-down version with a couple of plastic cups. Place a cup next to your golf swing, and see if you can knock it over just with the wind force generated by your swing. Once you knock over one, see if you can knock over more than that.—Keely Levins