What's a good format to spice up our league a bit? How do I get my playing partners on board with playing for a little cash? Your questions, answered
Hello and welcome back to the women’s mailbag, where we answer questions from our female readership. If you have a question you would like to have answered, you can submit it here. This is technically female-focused, but guys, if you have a question, we’re not going to ignore you. This week’s questions are about different formats and games you can play on-course, and how to pitch the idea of a little on-course wagering to your friends.
Let the games begin.
“Our league is low key and fun, but the formats are getting a bit stale. Any ideas on games or formats we could try?” – Ali, Tx.
My go-to game is one I played a lot when I was little, and I’m happily surprised when people haven't heard of it. Maybe it’s a new one for you and your crew, too: Bingo Bango Bongo. It’s a points game: one point is awarded to the first person who hits the green (Bingo); once everyone’s on the green, another point is given to the person who’s closest to the pin (Bango); and then whomever holes out first also gets a point (Bongo). It does require your group to play in proper order, making sure the person who’s farthest away goes first instead of playing ready golf. Keep track of your points and total them up at the end of the round. I like this game because it’s a way for different abilities to play against each other, without having to worry about handicaps. Anybody can drop a long putt or hit a chip close, so this game gets everyone involved.
Another good one requires a suit of cards from a deck, so you’d have to coordinate that every group goes out with a suit. Assign a club to 14 cards in the suit (Ace = putter, King = driver, 3 = 3-wood, 5 = 5-iron, Jack = sand wedge. You can organize it however you want. It’d be smart to print out the key for each group so people don’t forget and be ready to make substitutions on the fly (someone will have a hybrid instead of a 5-iron, someone's going to have an extra wedge, things like that.) On each tee box, pull three cards: Those are the only three clubs you can use on that hole. Can this be frustrating? Yes. Can this feel borderline impossible at times? Yes. But it also can be hilarious. And when everyone in your group is up against the same challenge, there’s some camaraderie that makes it fun. You’ll also probably learn something—like how to hit a bump-and-run with a 7-iron, or that hitting hybrid off the tee on that short par 4 is actually a better play than hitting driver.
“I want to bet a little on the course. Nothing crazy but I think it’d make it more fun if our group was playing for something. How do I pitch the idea to my friends when we’ve never played for anything before?” – Kathy, Fla.
Playing for a little something is always fun. It gets the adrenaline going, your senses heighten a bit, and you usually end up finding a coupe extra yards in your driver. which is always a good thing.
Since your group hasn’t wagered anything before, start small. It doesn’t even have to be money. Splitting into partners and have the losing two players pay for the winners’ first drink after the round. Buying drinks is a little gentler than having to actually open your wallet and pay an opponent.
If you do want to play for cash, again, start small. You don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable and you don’t want to scare your playing partners away from the idea of wagering before you even get started. You can say something like, “On the par 3’s today, want to bet a dollar on who can hit it closest?” This way, you’re not gambling on every hole and no one can lose more than a couple dollars. It’s a soft introduction to see if your friends might like it.
A $1 Nassau is also a low stakes entry point to a little gambling: $1 to the winner of the front 9, $1 to the winner of the back nine, and $1 to the winner of the whole match. You’ll find that even if you’re playing for a couple bucks, your approach will change. You’ll feel the heat and you’ll focus a bit more, which can be good for your game. Most importantly, just have fun with it. Nobody wants to play with someone who’s pressuring them into playing for more than they have in their wallet.