Seven golf gambling games your squad should be playing now

Because you can't play Nassaus forever
Golfer Holding a Twenty Dollar Bill


October 13, 2018

The first-tee ritual of deciding what type of action you want for your round of golf needn’t be so mundane. Yes, you can play a Nassau with two-down presses or $1 skins with team junk, but you could also impress your playing partners with a fresh assortment of creative bets.

Here are seven games that will make things interesting, and you won’t need an abacus to know who’s raking in the cash.


FORMAT: Four-ball (better ball) or individual match play


RULES: Instead of one 18-hole match, you play six consecutive three-hole matches. You can set each match at a specific amount or increase the amount for each match as the round progresses.


FORMAT: Side game

WHO WILL LOVE THIS: Golfers who dominate certain holes

RULES: Before teeing off on any hole, a player can declare a “money ball.” If that player makes birdie (you can decide if it’s net or gross), he or she is paid a predetermined amount by each of the other players in the group. But should that player make double bogey or worse, that same amount has to be paid by the money-ball user to the other players in the group. If someone declares a money ball and the ball is lost on that hole, the amount paid to the other players is doubled.


FORMAT: Four-ball or individual stroke play

WHO WILL LOVE THIS: Clutch players

RULES: Either using the handicaps on the scorecard or your own system, each hole is ranked from easiest to hardest and assigned a specific amount of money that corresponds to its difficulty. One example would be to have the No. 1-handicap hole worth $18 and the easiest hole worth a buck. If those stakes are too high (or too low!), you can adjust. Simply win a hole, and you or your side banks that amount.


FORMAT: Side game

WHO WILL LOVE THIS: Steady players who usually avoid big numbers

RULES: Before the round, everyone throws money into a pot. At the end of the round, six holes are chosen randomly, and the player with the lowest score for those six holes wins the pot.


FORMAT: Four-ball or individual stroke play

WHO WILL LOVE THIS: Players who can putt

For every hole a player or side makes a gross par or better (this can be adjusted depending on the ability of the group), a token is earned. That token can then be handed to another player or side on any given hole and that player or side must putt out (no gimmes).


FORMAT: Team or individual skins

WHO WILL LOVE THIS: True gamblers

RULES: Each hole is worth a designated amount of money. In this example, say, a dollar. If you or your side wins the hole, you have the option of banking that money or letting it ride. If you or your side win again before the other side or another golfer in the group wins, the amount for the skins doubles. Let it ride again, and the amount triples (or quadruples if you’re super gutsy).


FORMAT: Individual stroke play for two or more foursomes

WHO WILL LOVE THIS: Higher-handicap players capable of making birdies

RULES: Each player subtracts his or her course handicap from 32. That number is the quota of points needed to be made using a modified Stableford system. For example, a golfer gets four points for a birdie, two for a par, 1 for a bogey, etc. You can adjust the point totals to the ability of the group. The winner or winners are the players with the most points above their quotas. The payout typically comes from a pot each player contributes to before the round, but it can be funded by players who don’t make their quota, etc. You decide.