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127 Ways To Bet On Golf

Up 2, 5 and 3, Nassau, Wolf, Acey Ducey, Press, Am-Am…if the guys you play with are throwing around lingo like this during the next round and you have no clue what the hell they are talking about, then read on. There are so many ways to bet on golf and the guys that have been around the block know a lot of them. But we promise you this none of them have a list like this…MyGolfSpy’s “127 Ways To Bet On Golf”

So if you want to spice up the next round of golf or want to impress the guys, then bark a few of these out the next time your on the first tee. And if you want a hard copy to keep just click here “Print This Post” or you can check out one of the books we found on “Golf Betting Games”. This way the next time you play with that same guy you can throw him for a loop.

1-2-3 Best Ball

Definition: “1-2-3 Best Ball” is a competition format for 4-person teams. Each player on the team plays his own ball throughout the round. On each hole, a predetermined number of the lower scores is used.One the first hole, the lowest score among the four players counts as the team score. On the second hole, the two lowest scores become the team score. On the third hole, the three lowest scores become the team score. On the fourth hole, it’s back to the one lowest score, and so on throughout the round.
1-2-3 Best Ball is a good way to keep all the players involved in the fate of their team.

2-2-2

Definition: “2-2-2″ is just another name for the $2 Nassau. A $2 Nassau consists of three bets, each worth $2 – the front nine, the back nine and the full 18 hole score.
Also Known As: $2 Nassau, Best Nines

2-Man No Scotch

Definition: In the 2-Man No Scotch golf tournament format, team members tee off, then switch balls, each playing the second shot from where the balls lie. Beginning with the third shot, the two team members play out the hole as a scramble, and record the one low ball as the team score.
Alternate Spellings: Two-Man No Scotch

2-Man Scramble

Definition: A 2-Man Scramble is a competition format that is exactly what it sounds like: a scramble in which the teams consist of two players each. After each shot, the best of the two shots is selected and both players play from that spot, until the ball is holed. One team score is recorded.
Also Known As: 2-Person Scramble, Two-Person Scramble

2-Person Best Ball

Definition: “2-Person Best Ball” is a best-ball competition format in which the teams consist of two players. Played as one team vs. another, whether stroke play or match play, it’s simply another name for Four Ball. Each player on the team plays his own ball until completing the hole, then the lower of the two scores is recorded as the team score for that hole. For more explanation, see Best Ball.
Also Known As: 2-Man Best Ball, 2-Person Better Ball, Four Ball

32

Definition: Thirty-Two is a side bet for golfers that focuses on putting. It’s essentially a challenge from one golfer to another to avoid a three-putt.Let’s say your buddy is facing a long, difficult putt. You invoke the thirty-two side bet. If your buddy three-putts (or worse), he owes you two units of the bet. If he two-putts (or better), you owe him three units of the bet. (If the bet is $1, for example, and he three-putts, he owes you $2; if he two-putts, you owe him $3).

4-Man Cha Cha Cha

Definition: In the 4-Man Cha Cha Cha tournament format, each member of the team plays his or her ball throughout. But a 3-hole rotation exists for determining how many scores are used to create the team score.On the first hole (cha), the one low ball counts as the team score. On the second hole (cha cha), the two low balls count as the team score. On the third hole (cha cha cha), the three low balls count as the team score. The rotation starts over on the fourth hole.

Aces and Dueces

Definition: Aces and Dueces, 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 “duece”) 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, A makes 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 “duece” 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 “duece”), 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 duece, plus the $2 owed to A for his “ace” score).

As you can see, this game can get expensive in a hurry if high amounts are used and one or two players dominate. Be sure to play with players of similar skills, or use full handicaps, and to set a reasonable bet amount if you’re not a high-roller.

Acey Ducey

Definition: Acey Ducey, also called Aces and Dueces, 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 “duece”) loses an agreed upon amount to the other three players. See Aces and Dueces for more explanation and examples of how the bet works.


Air Presses

Definition: As described in the “Golf Guru” column from the November, 2004, issue of Golf Digest, “air presses” are one-hole bets between individuals that are called while a ball is in the air.Set the bet amount before the round. Air presses are automatic; that is, if one is called, it is automatically accepted.

Say you’re on the first tee. Your opponent steps up and smacks his drive, but, uh-oh, it looks like it’s headed for the rough. You call an “air press,” and the bet is in place. What you’re betting is that you’ll beat your opponent on this hole. Now you step to the tee. Your opponent has the option, while your ball is in the air, to double the bet.

Air presses can only be called by a player who has not yet hit on a hole (thereby ensuring that the opponent has the option to double the bet).


Alternate Shot

Definition: Alternate Shot, also called Foursomes, is a competition format in which 2-person teams alternate hitting the same ball. The first player tees off, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed. Tee balls are alternated so that the same player doesn’t hit every drive.Alternate Shot can be played as stroke play or match play.


Am-Am

Definition: An Am-Am tournament is one in which two amateurs are paired – “amateur-amateur,” get it? Or, as we once saw an am-am described on the Web site of a tournament organizer: “You’ve heard of a pro-am, right? Well, we ain’t got no pros.”When a tournament is labeled as an am-am, it might imply one of the following:

• That golfers who sign up to play in the tournament will be paired with a so-called celebrity (as opposed to a professional golfer)
•Or that the tournament is a big-time amateur event in which low-handicappers are competiting

It doesn’t have to imply either one of those things, of course. A designation of “am-am” often just means that if you sign up to play, you’ll be paired with another amateur such as yourself on a 2-person team.

Also Known As: Amateur-Amateur

Ambrose Competition

Definition: “Ambrose Competition” is another name for a scramble, but one in which a team handicap is used. All players tee off, the best shot is selected and all players hit again from that same spot. The best second shot is selected, and all players hit from that same spot, and so on until the ball is holed.

If the scramble is called an “Ambrose,” it means that handicaps are used in play, with a fraction of the total handicaps of the group members serving as one handicap for the group.

For example, if it’s a 2-person scramble, the handicaps of the two players are added together and divided by 4. For a 3-person scramble, divide by 6; for a 4-person scramble, divide by 8.

The arithmetic produces one group handicap which is used during play.

American Foursomes – See Chapman System

Definition: This 2-person team competition format is named after Dick Chapman, a great amateur golfer who played The Masters 17 consecutive years. He “invented” the game at Pinehurst Resort, hence it is alternately called Chapman or Pinehurst. And, for good measure, it is less frequently referred to as American Foursomes.

In the Chapman System, both players on a side tee off, then they switch balls. Player A plays Player B’s drive, and vice-versa. Each player hits his or her second shot. They then select the best of the second shots, and from that point until the ball is holed they play only one ball in an alternate shot format. Got it?

Switch balls after the drive, select the one best ball after the second shot, play alternate shot until the ball is holed. The player whose second ball was not chosen gets to play the third shot (so teams might sometimes choose the best ball after two shots based on who will get to hit the third).

Chapman (or Pinehurst, or American Foursomes, or whatever you want to call it) can be played as stroke play or match play.

If playing your team against my team with all four players of equal abilities, play it at scratch. But it’s a great game for twosomes of varying abilities, or husbands and wives.

Handicap allowances for Chapman System competitions can be found in the USGA Handicap Manual, Section 9-4 (www.usga.com).


Arnies

Definition: An Arnie is a side bet that is won by a golfer who makes par on a hole without ever being in the fairway. The amount of the bet is set before the round begins. Arnies are not something a golfer sets out to win, however – the round is played with the intent of playing as well as possible (no sandbagging, in other words). However, if along the way a golfer makes par on a hole without hitting the fairway, the Arnie is his reward.

The bet is named for Arnold Palmer, who made quite a few pars in his career on holes where he failed to find the fairway.


Auto Win

Definition: Auto Win is a match play tournament or betting game in which holes are automatically won by any player accomplishing one of the following:

• Chip-in from off the green (fringes don’t count)
• Hole-out from a sand trap

Stick an approach inside the flagstick from 150 yards out or more, or on any par 3

The player with the most holes won (call them skins or points or whatever suits your fancy) at the end of the round wins the match or the bet. If more than one player achieves an Auto Win on a hole, the options are to consider the hole halved, award no points at all, or carry over the point (or skin) to the next hole.


Bag Raid

Definition: Bag Raid, a k a Pick Up Sticks, is a match play game between two players. It’s pretty simple: Every time a player wins a hole, his opponent gets to choose one club from his bag and remove that club from play.

Example: After A wins the first hole, B removes A’s pitching wedge from play. For the rest of the round, A cannot use that pitching wedge.

Any club can be chosen, but most players give immunity to the putter (otherwise it would be the first club to go, and putting is hard enough without having to do it without a putter).

The strategy – well, aside from the strategy of not losing holes – is to first remove from your opponent’s bag the clubs which he’s most comfortable and best with.

When playing Bag Raid, make sure you carry the maximum allowed 14 clubs at the start of the round.

Bag Raid can be a good game for learning creative shots and practicing draws, fades, punch shots and the like. Because by the turn – unless you’re winning every hole – you’ll be playing shots for which you may no longer have the appropriate club.


Barkies

Definition: Barkies are side bets that are won by a golfer who makes par on a hole on which he’s hit a tree. Most groups playing Barkies stipulate that leaves don’t count – the ball must make contact with wood. A double barkie is worth twice the bet and involves making par despite hitting two trees on the same hole.

Of course, no golfer wants to hit a tree, so Barkies are not things that a golfer sets out to do. But it can add a fun side game to a round of golf and is a good reward for a golfer who recovers for par after hitting a tree.


Best At Something

Definition: Best At Something is a points-based betting game that can be played right alongside any other type of match in which golfers are playing their own balls throughout (as opposed toalternate shot, for example).

Along with counting strokes, Best At Something requires that each player count points. Points are awarded (or subtracted) for different things throughout the round. Have the most points at the end of the round, win the bet.

In its most common form, 1 point is awarded for any of these accomplishments:

• Fairway hit (it might be stipulated that woods must be used to get a point)
• Green in regulation

1-putt green

A single point would be subtracted for:

• 3 putts or more on a green
• Hitting into a hazard
• Lost ball

Out of bounds

Want to make it more complicated? Tally each category separately. Those leading the positive point categories win from the other players; those leading the negative point categories owe the other players.


Best Ball

Definition: Along with the scramble, “best ball” is one of the most popular golf tournament formats.

Best ball can be played using 2-, 3- or 4-person teams. Each player on the team plays his or her own golf ball throughout the round, and on each hole the low score – or “best ball” – of the group serves as the team score. Player A gets a 5, B gets a 4, C gets a 6, D gets a 6, then the team score for that hole is 4, because the low score of the group was B’s 4.

Best ball is usually played as stroke play with the total score added up at the end of the round. It can be played as match play, but best-ball match play with more than 2-person teams results in a lot of halved holes.

When using 3- or 4-person teams, it’s almost imperitave to apply handicaps so that the weaker players will be able to contribute.

A 2-person best ball match play competition is also known as Four Ball.

“Best ball” can also refer to a competition in which a single player plays match play against a 2- or 3-person team playing best ball. That variation is good for a low-handicapper taking on a team of higher handicappers.

Handicap allowances for Best Ball competitions can be found in the USGA Handicap Manual, Section 9-4 (www.usga.com).


Best Nines

Definition: Best Nines is a betting game that is more commonly called Nassau. It’s essentially three tournaments (or bets) in one: the front nine, back nine and 18-hole scores all count as separate tournaments or bets. See Nassau for explanation and examples.
Also Known As: Nassau, or 2-2-2 when referring to a $2 Nassau


Better Ball

Definition: A best ball competition in which the teams are comprised of two players. When played as match play, better ball is another name for Four Ball.

The two players on the team each play their own ball throughout the round. The low score, or better ball, among the two on each hole is the team’s score for that hole.


Bingo Bango Bongo

Definition: Bingo Bango Bongo is a points-based game that can be played by any number of players, from two up.

In Bingo Bango Bongo, three types of achievements are rewarded with a point. The first player in a group to get his ball on the green gets a point (bingo). The player in the group whose ball is closest to the pin once all balls are on the green gets a point (bango). And the player in the group who is first to hole out gets a point (bongo).

Add up the points at the end of the game, high points wins.

Bingo Bango Bongo gives weaker players a chance to earn points because what matters is being first at something. For example, all members of the group tee off on a par-4. The player who hit the worst drive (farthest from the hole) plays first, and so has the first shot at winning the bingo point.

So, too, with closest to the pin. The best players in the group are likely to be on the green in two (or three on a par-5), while the weakest players might be chipping. The closest-to-the-pin point is only earned once all balls are on the green, so the player who has hacked it up the fairway may be sitting just off the green and chipping – giving that player a great chance to pick up the bango point.

Because of these factors (and because the first person putting will be the one farthest from the hole), strict etiquette must be enforced. The player who is away always plays first.

For a variation, throw into the mix that any player winning all three points on a hole wins double points.


Blind Bogey

Definition: Blind Bogey is a tournament format. Actually, it’s several tournament formats – “blind bogey” means different things to different tournament directors, and in different places.

1. Probably the most common format when “blind bogey” is announced requires golfers to play 18 holes of stroke play. Following completion of play, the tournament director randomly selects a score – say, 87 – and the golfer(s) whose actual score is closest to the randomly selected score is the winner.

2. A variation of No. 1. In this version, before the round begins golfers assign themselves a self-chosen handicap (which should be recorded to guard against cheating later!) – the number they believe will result in a net score in the 70s. After the round, the tournament director randomly selects a number in the 70s, and golfers whose net scores (using their self-chosen handicaps) match that number are the winners.

3. Finally, there’s this version of blind bogey: Everyone tees off and completes their rounds. The tournament directors randomly select six holes, and each golfer’s scores on those six randomly chosen holes are thrown out. The 12 holes remaining on your scorecard are added up, and that’s your score. Low score wins.

How do you know which version of blind bogey your club has scheduled? Ask ahead of time, or just wait and be surprised.


Blind Nine

Definition: Blind Nine, sometimes called Blind Hole, is a scramble tournament in which only 9 of the 18 holes count in the team’s final score. The catch is that the teams don’t know which 9 holes count until after the round is completed.

The tournament organizers usually wait until all teams have teed off before randomly selecting the 9 holes whose scores will be used.

Alternately, the organizers may select three par-3s, three par-4s and three-par 5s, but that makes it easier on the field – concentrate really hard on the par 3s and par 5s because there usually are only four each of those on a course.

Blind Nine is usually played with full handicaps, but using three-quarter handicaps or some other fraction can help ease the logjam that is sometimes created by using only 9 holes to score.


Bowmaker

Definition: Bowmaker tournaments are very common in the U.K., where the term is widely used. The term “bowmaker” is rarely used in the U.S., but the format is a familiar one.

A bowmaker boils down to this: A team event in which members of the team are playing their own golf balls throughout, and a certain number of the team members’ scores count on each hole.

The most common bowmaker format in the U.K. calls for 4-person teams with the two low scores per hole counting as the team scores. If on the first hole, members of your group score 4, 5, 6 and 7, your team score is 9 (4 plus 5, the two low balls).

Stableford is the most common choice for scoring bowmaker tournaments in the U.K., but other variations are known. Also, you’ll sometimes find bowmakers that use 3-person teams with the best two scores per hole counting, or 4-person teams with the best three scores per hole counting.


Bramble

Definition: A bramble starts off just like a scramble: the members of each team (usually four players per team) tee off, and the best drive is selected. In a scramble, this process continues until the ball is holed, producing one team score.However, in a bramble, after the best drive is selected, all players play from that spot but then continue playing their own ball, stroke-play style, until each has holed out, producing four individual scores.

The bramble tournament also goes by the name of “shamble.” The team score can be the one low ball of the group, the two low balls, or some other variation depending on the tournament director’s instructions.


Bridge

Definition: Bridge, a k a Name That Score, is a game that requires skill – and guts. Or at least a very good understanding of your own golf skills and limitations.Bridge can be played by two golfers, one against the other, or two teams of two golfers. We’ll use 2-against-2 in our examples, because that is the most common way that Bridge is played.

In Bridge, a set amount of points or money applies to each hole. This amount is agreed upon before the round.

When stepping up to a tee box, one team makes a “bid” on the number of strokes (net or gross – decide beforehand, obviously) they think it will take them to play the hole.

Say you’re at a tough par-4. You and your partner bid 11. You are offering a bet (of the set amount) to the other team that your side can play the hole in no more than 11 strokes.

The other side has three options: Take the bet; take the bet and double it; or bid lower than 11. If the other side is confident it can beat 11 strokes, it will bid 10. Then it’s back to your team: Take the bet, take the bet and double it, or bid 9 strokes.

If one team takes the bet and doubles it, then the other team has the option of doubling back (meaning that if you’re playing for money, carefully consider how much you’re playing for because it can add up quickly).

Which team opens the bidding on the first hole is determined randomly. On each ensuing hole, the team that lost the previous hole opens the bidding.


Calcutta

Definition: The term “Calcutta” describes a type of auction-pool wagering that can be applied to golf and many other sporting events. In golf, a Calcutta is most common at a tournament featuring 4-person teams, but a Calcutta can be held in conjunction with any type of golf tournament.In a Calcutta, golfers bid, auction style, on the golfer or team who they think will win the tournament (you can bid on yourself or your own team, too). All the money raised through the “auction” goes into the pot. At the end of the tournament, those who “won” the team that then won the tournament get a pre-determined payout from the auction pool.

The precise rules of a Calcutta can vary from place to place; many tournament organizers employ software programs that apply odds and determine win-place-show amounts. Perhaps the simplest and most common Calcutta payout is 70 percent of the pool to the “owner” of the winning tournament team, 30 percent to the “owner” of the second-place tournament team.

Among other variations is one that allows a golfer to buy back half of himself or his team from the winning bidder. For example, your team is “won” in the auction by Team X; if this rule is in effect, you can pay half of Team X’s winning bid back to Team X in order to buy back half a stake in your own team. If your team then wins the tournament, your team and Team X split the Calcutta payout.

The USGA’s policy on gambling states that participating in Calcuttas can put amateur status at risk.


Callaway System

Definition: The Callaway System (or Callaway Scoring System) is a sort of 1-day handicapping system that can be used in events where most of the golfers do not have real handicap indexes.For example, at a company outing, most of the golfers may not carry official handicap indexes. How can they all – with widely different playing abilities – compete fairly at stroke play?

The Callaway System – while, like the similar Peoria System, based in certain part on luck – allows a “handicap allowance” to be determined and then applied to each golfer’s score.

When the Callaway System is in use, all competitors tee off and play stroke play, scoring in the normal fashion with one exception – double par is the maximum score on any given hole (i.e., on a par 4, 8 is the maximum score).

Following the round, gross scores are tallied. Based on each golfer’s gross score (using the double par maximum), each golfer tallies up a prescribed number of worst scores from their scorecard, then applies a second adjustment that may add or subtract additional strokes.

Utilizing the Callaway System requires consulting a chart to determine a handicap deduction and handicap adjustment. For further explanation and an example of how the Callaway System works:


Canadian Foursomes

Definition: Canadian Foursomes is a variation of regular foursomes (2-person teams, each playing one ball) in which both players on a team tee off, the best of the two tee balls is selected and that ball is then played alternate-shot until holed.In regular foursomes, the 2-person team would play alternate shot for the full hole, i.e., only one tee ball would be hit.

Canadian Foursomes is essentially a 2-person scramble off the tee, then alternate-shot into the hole.


Captain’s Choice

Definition: “Captain’s Choice” is usually just another name for a scramble format. See the scramble definition for details.As the name implies, in Captain’s Choice one member of the scramble team is designated as captain and has the final say on all choices during play.


Chapman System

Definition: This 2-person team competition format is named after Dick Chapman, a great amateur golfer who played The Masters 17 consecutive years. He “invented” the game at Pinehurst Resort, hence it is alternately called Chapman or Pinehurst. And, for good measure, it is less frequently referred to as American Foursomes.In the Chapman System, both players on a side tee off, then they switch balls. Player A plays Player B’s drive, and vice-versa. Each player hits his or her second shot. They then select the best of the second shots, and from that point until the ball is holed they play only one ball in an alternate shot format. Got it?

Switch balls after the drive, select the one best ball after the second shot, play alternate shot until the ball is holed. The player whose second ball was not chosen gets to play the third shot (so teams might sometimes choose the best ball after two shots based on who will get to hit the third).

Chapman (or Pinehurst, or American Foursomes, or whatever you want to call it) can be played as stroke play or match play.

If playing your team against my team with all four players of equal abilities, play it at scratch. But it’s a great game for twosomes of varying abilities, or husbands and wives.

Handicap allowances for Chapman System competitions can be found in the USGA Handicap Manual, Section 9-4 (www.usga.com).


Chicago

Definition: Chicago is a golf game whose format is based on golfers beginning their rounds with negative points. In Chicago, players start with a negative amount of points, based on handicaps, then add positive points during the round. The idea is to get from the negative to the positive, clearing your “hurdle” (the term used for your starting total of negative points) by as much as possible.Negative points begin at -39 for scratch golfers. A 1-handicapper starts with -38, a 2-handicapper with -37, and so on up to a 36-handicapper who starts with -3 points.

During the round, positive points are added on this basis:

• Bogeys are worth l point
• Pars are worth 2 points
• Birdies are worth 4 points

Eagles are worth 8 points

Not everyone will be able to clear their hurdle, so the highest point total – whether that is 15 or -15 – wins.

Chicago can be a tournament format for individual stroke play, or a betting game among buddies. The winner might get a set amount agreed upon before the round, or the differential in final points can be used, with each point worth a set amount.


Criers and Whiners

Definition: Criers and Whiners is a game of do-overs, or mulligans that can be used from any point on the course. In Criers and Whiners, handicaps are converted into free shots that are used during a round.Say a player has a 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. Hit a bad shot off the second tee? Hit it again. Now you’ve got 13 left.

The game can be played with full handicaps (as in the example above) but it 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.


Criss Cross

Definition: Criss Cross is a tournament format or betting game in which the golfer or team gets to compare corresponding scores on their scorecard and choose the lower of two scores, resulting in a 9-hole total score.It’s not as complicated as we just made it sound. Here’s how it works: Front 9 holes are paired up with the corresponding Back 9 hole. In other words, think of No. 1 and No. 10 as a pair, No. 2 and No. 11, No. 3 and No. 12, and so on up to No. 9 and No. 18.

Following the round, compare the scores you recorded on No. 1 and No. 10 and circle the lower of the two. Compare No. 2 and No. 11 and circle the lower of the two, and so on through No. 9 and No. 18.

Then add up the 9 holes you’ve circled for your total score.

Criss Cross is usually played in flights using gross scores; handicaps can be used to determine flights.


Cut Throat

Definition: Cut Throat is a fun diversion on slow days at the golf course. It is played on the tee box while you’re waiting for the group ahead of you to move out of range.In Cut Throat, each member of your group places a golf ball on the ground near the tee marker on one side of the tee box. Using the club you’ll be teeing off with, the object is to knock your ball across the tee box, hitting the far tee marker; then back to the side you started on, hitting that tee marker; then take aim at your partners’ golf balls, eliminating them by hitting their golf balls with yours.

If you hit the target with your first try, you immediately go again, and keep going until you miss. If you miss with your first try, the next member of the group goes, and so on, alternating turns.

If a golf ball goes off the tee box, that player has two turns to get back onto the tee box or he is eliminated.

The first time during a round that Cut Throat is played, flip a tee to determine playing order. After that, the first person eliminated on the previous tee box goes first; the previous winner goes last.

Just be sure when playing Cut Throat that you don’t get so involved in the game that you lose track of time, and start holding up the group behind yours.


Defender

Definition: Defender is a betting game or points game for groups in which one member of the group per hole is designated as that hole’s “defender.” The defender’s job is to get the lowest score on his hole; the other members of the group are trying to beat the defender.Before teeing off, establish a rotation (for a threesome, A is the defender on the first hole, B on No. 2, C on No. 3, back to A on No. 4, and so on) for the Defender.

When the Defender successfully defends his hole – that is, gets the lowest score – he earns 3 points and the other players lose 1 point. If any member of the group beats the Defender, the defender loses 3 points and each other player gains 1 point. If the Defender ties for low score on his hole, the defender gains 1 1/2 points while the others lose a half-point.

Defender can be played just for points and bragging rights, or a dollar value can be assigned to the points and money divvied up at the end of the round.


Derby

Definition: Derby, more commonly called Shoot Out, is a tournament with a field of 19 players. On each hole, one player is eliminated until only one remains – the champion, crowned on the 18th hole. See Shoot Out for further explanation.


Devil Ball

Definition: While there might be slight variations from game to game, Devil Ball is usually just another name for Money Ball, Lone Ranger, Yellow Ball, Pink Ball or Pink Lady. They all mean basically the same thing.The basics are this: In Devil Ball, groups of four tee off in a competition. On each hole, two scores are combined to create one team score. One of those scores is from the person playing the “devil ball.” So when it’s your turn to play the Devil Ball, the onus is on you to come through for the team because your score is going to count.

The second score used is usually the low ball of the other three players on the team (however, the other three players might be required to play a scramble or best ball or any other format to produce the second score).

The two scores are added together for the team score. Before teeing off in Devil Ball, players are designated A, B, C and D, and the devil ball rotates among players throughout the round (A on the first hole, B on the second, and so on).


Disaster

Definition: Disaster, a k a Trouble, is a points game in which the winner at the end of the round is the player (or team) that has collected the fewest number of points.That’s because points are “awarded” for bad shots. Hit a ball out of bounds, that’s a point.

Points in Disaster can be given any value, and what earns a point can vary from group to group – it’s up to you. But a common point system is as follows:

• Water ball – 1 point
• Out of bounds – 1 point
• In a bunker – 1 point
• Failing to get ball out of bunker – 1 point
• 3-putt – 1 point
• 4-putt – 3 points
• Hitting from one bunker into another – 2 points

Whiff – 4 points

One variation of Disaster is to allow all points accumulated to be erased when a par is made. Golfers who are likely to add up a lot of points will enjoy that option.


Eclectic

Definition: An eclectic, or eclectic tournament, is a multi-round golf tournament that results in one 18-hole score per player.Eclectics work this way: Participants play X number of rounds, and compare their scores on each hole per round. The lowest score made on each hole is recorded, producing an 18-hole score. Example: There are three rounds; in Round 1, the golfer makes a 6 on hole No. 1; in Round 2, a 7 on hole No. 1; in Round 3, a 4 on hole No. 1. That golfer’s score for the first hole is a 4.

The lowest of each round’s scores per hole are recorded on one scorecard and turned in as the final score.

An eclectic can be a stand-alone event contested over consecutive days, or it can be a tournament that runs concurrently, over longer time periods, with other, unrelated tournaments.

For example, the Duffersville Men’s Golf Association announces a spring tournament schedule comprised of eight events. But along with those events, the DMGA offers golfers the option of also signing up for an eclectic, which runs throughout the spring schedule. In this case, the eclectic is comprised of eight rounds (or however many rounds are played over the course of the eight tournaments that make up the spring schedule) played over the course of many weeks.


Eliminator

Definition: Eliminator is a tournament format for 4-person teams, or a betting game for several groups of four. Eliminator, also known as In the Bucket, is a best-ball format with a twist: as a player’s score is used for the team score, he is “eliminated” from counting as the team score on ensuing holes, until only one player is left whose score is eligible to be used (then the process starts over).Here’s an example: Players A, B, C and D tee off on Hole 1. Player A is the low-ball on the first hole. All players move on to Hole 2, but Player A’s score can’t be used; Players B, C and D are eligible. On the second hole, Player B is the low-ball. All players move on to Hole 3, but the scores of A and B are now ineligible; only C and D have a chance to provide the team score. On No. 3, Player C is the low score. And that leaves Player D as the lone survivor – his or her score must be used on the fourth hole. On Hole 5, the rotation starts over, with all four team members eligible to have their score counted.

A variation of Eliminator is that all players who tie for low score are eliminated for the next hole. For example, two members of the team score 5s, while two score 6s. On the next hole, the two who tied for low score can’t provide the low score again; the other two players must provide the team score. But all players are eligible again the next hole. If the low score comes via a birdie, however, or all four players tie, then all four players remain eligible on the following hole.


English

Definition: English is a points competition or betting game that is played among groups of three. On each hole, 6 points are at stake. The points might carry a monetary value that is totaled at the end of the round, with payouts being made on the differences. Or English might simply be played for points and bragging rights. Points are awarded based on the low, middle and high scores on each hole in this manner:• 4 points to golfer with low score of the group;
• 2 points to golfer with middle score of the group;

0 points to golfer with high score of the group

If two players tie for low score, each gets 3 points, with the high scorer getting 0. If two players tie for high score, the low scorer gets 4 points and the two high scorers get 1 point each. If all three players tie, either 2 points or 0 points are awarded (group members should decide this before the round begins).


Fairways & Greens

Definition: Fairways & Greens is a betting game best for groups of golfers with similar handicaps.The object is, of course, to hit fairways and greens. The catch is that you have to be the only player to hit the fairway (off the tee) to win the bet, or the only player to hit the green (in regulation) to win the bet.

Determine before the round the value of each fairway and each green. Each hole (excluding par-3s) has two bets – one for the fairway and one for the green. If you’re the only player in the fairway off the tee, you win.

If two or more players find the fairway, or two or more players are on the green in regulation, then that bet carries over to the following hole (ala skins).


Fish

Definition: Fish is a betting game for groups of golfers that is modeled after a popular fishing bet, hence its name. The fishing bet is threefold: a bet on who catches the first fish, a bet on who catches the biggest fish, and a bet on who catches the most fish.Likewise, Fish on a golf course is threefold, but this time involving birdies: a bet on who makes the first birdie, a bet on who makes the longest birdie, and a bet on who makes the most birdies. Each of the three bets carries its own dollar amount (usually the same for all three bets).

Keep track of the distance of each birdie in case you need to go to a tiebreaker for most birdies. The tiebreaker is greater total distance on the birdies. Also, eagles can be set to be worth two “fish” (birdies) for the most birdies bet.

Flags

Definition: Flags is a competition format in which golfers begin the round with an allotment of strokes, then play the course until their strokes run out.The game gets its name from the fact that little flags are usually given to competitors to stick in the ground at the point at which their final shot is played.

The golfer who stakes his flag the farthest around the course is the winner. Example: Your allotment is 75 strokes. You play the course until you hit your 75th shot, which, let’s say, comes on the 16th fairway. That’s where you plant your flag. If no other player’s flag is planted beyond yours – say, on the 16th green or 17th tee box – you are the winner.

Flags can be played using full handicaps or partial handicaps to determine the stroke allotment. A player with a handicap of 21, for example, receives 93 strokes on a par-72 course if full handicaps are used (72 plus 21).

Using full handicaps often means that several golfers will reach the end of 18 holes with strokes left; those golfers would go back to No. 1 and keep playing. Alternately, all players with strokes remaining can stop after 18 and the golfer with the most strokes remaining is the winner.

Using partial handicaps, especially two-thirds, usually means that nearly all players will use up their strokes before completing 18 holes.

If players are tied – a number of players make it to the 17th green or 18th fairway, for example – closest to the hole wins.


Florida Scramble

Definition: The Florida Scramble is a variation on the typical scramble in which one player on each team sits out each shot.A scramble works this way: Each player on the team (usually groups of four, but groups of three work also) tees off. The best of the four shots is selected, all players move their balls to that spot and play their second shots. The best of the second shots is selected, all players move their balls to that spot and play their third shots; and so on until the ball is holed.

In a Florida Scramble, the twist is that the player whose shot is selected doesn’t get to play thenext shot. So in a Florida Scramble with teams of four, all four players tee off, the best shot is selected, then only three players hit their second shots. The best of the second shots is selected – and the player who hit it sits out the third shots; and so on until the ball is holed.

A Florida Scramble can help spread the “best shots” around among teammates, but it does mean that one player has to sit out every shot.


Fort Lauderdale

Definition: While there may be some regional variations in the specifics, when a tournament is using the Fort Lauderdale format is it usually just a typical scramble format. In other words, Fort Lauderdale is usually just a synonym for scramble.


Four Ball

Definition: Four Ball is a match pitting two teams of two players (a total of four balls being played, hence the name) against each other using best-ball scoring.All four players play their own ball throughout; at the end of each hole, the low score among the two partners on each team is that team’s score. For example, Players A and B form one team. On the first hole, A scores a 5, B scores a 6, so the team score is 5.

Four Ball can be played as stroke play or match play and is one of the formats used at the Ryder Cup.

Handicap allowances for various Four Ball competitions can be found in the USGA Handicap Manual, Section 9-4 (www.usga.com).

Tournaments called 2-Person Best Ball are similar but not exactly the same. A Four Ball is team vs. team; a Best Ball tournament might be team vs. team or team vs. field.


Foursomes

Definition: Foursomes is a competition format in which teams are comprised of two players each, and the players alternate hitting the same ball (which is why Foursomes is also very commonly called “alternate shot”).The first player tees off, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed. Players alternate hitting tee shots so that the same player doesn’t hit every drive.

Foursomes can be played as stroke play or match play. As match play, Foursomes is one of the formats used in the Ryder Cup.

Here’s a hint for Foursomes strategy: Try to determine before the round which are the toughest driving holes on the course being played. Factor that into the decision on who hits the tee ball on the first hole. You want your best driver to be teeing off on as many of the toughest driving holes as possible.

Handicap allowances for Foursomes competitions can be found in the USGA Handicap Manual, Section 9-4 (www.usga.com).


Greensomes

Definition: Greensomes is a competition format that is a variation of foursomes (2-person teams, each playing one ball). In Greensomes, both players on a team tee off, the best of the two tee balls is selected and that ball is then played alternate-shot until holed.In regular foursomes, the 2-person team would play alternate shot for the full hole, i.e., only one tee ball would be hit.

Greensomes is essentially a 2-person scramble off the tee, then alternate-shot into the hole.


Gruesomes

Definition: Gruesomes is a 2-person team game that is more common as a betting game but is also sometimes used as a tournament format.In Gruesomes, both members of the team tee off – and then the opposing team selects which drive they have to play. Needless to say, the opposing team is likely to select the worst – or most gruesome – of the two drives.

Following selection of the tee ball, the teams play out the hole in alternate shot fashion. The player who hit the “gruesome” tee ball also plays the second shot.


Hate ‘Em

Definition: On every course, there are a few holes that give every golfer trouble. The ones where, no matter how many times you play the course, you can never quite tame those holes. Don’t you just hate those holes?In Hate ‘Em, which can be a tournament format or just a betting game among friends, you get choose three of those holes and, before the round starts, write down a par on each.

A stipulation that usually (but not always) applies is that the three holes must be comprised of one par 3, one par 4 and one par 5.

Hate ‘Em is usually played with full handicaps. At the end of the round, add up the strokes (including the three pars on your Hate ‘Em holes), deduct your handicap strokes, and the low player (or group) wins.


Hog

Definition: Hog is a betting game similar to Defender but with an added twist.One each hole, one player is designated as the Hog (determine the order prior to the round – A on No. 1, B on No. 2, C on No. 3, D on No. 4, then back to A and so on).

In Defender, the designated player automatically plays against the other three on his holes. In Hog, all members of the group tee off, then the “Hog” has two options: “hog” the hole by playing against the other three players; or pick one of the other three players as a partner for the hole, making it 2-on-2.

At stake are points, which can have a dollar amount attached. Low score wins; unlike in Defender, ties usually carry over until a winner emerges.

If the “Hog” plays 1 against 3 and wins, he get 3 points; if he loses, the other three players get 1 point each. If the “Hog” chooses a partner and wins, both players get 1 point; if they lose, the other two players get 1 point each.

At the end of the round, add up points for all players and pay out the differences.

Hog is a game best for players of similar skill levels, or for a group using full handicaps.


Honest John

Definition: How well do you know your own golf game? Honest John is one of the simplest golf side bets and puts your predictive powers to the test.Very simple: Before the round starts, members of the group each put an agreed-upon dollar amount into the pot. Each player predicts the score they will shoot. At the end of the round, the player who came closest to his predicted score wins the pot.


In the Bucket

Definition: “In the Bucket” is another name for Eliminator. It’s a best-ball tournament in which every fourth hole, one player is left “in the bucket” – his or her score must count as the team score.That’s because on each of the three preceding holes, the player whose low-ball score counted as the team score is “eliminated” (he still plays, but his score can’t be used). After the fourth hole, the rotation starts over again with all players eligible.


Irish Four Ball

Definition: The term and the tournament format “Irish Four Ball” is very popular in Australia. In Irish Four Ball, teams of four golfers – each playing his or her own ball throughout – use a Stableford or Modified Stableford scoring system. The scores of a predetermined number of team members per hole are combined for one team score. For example, if the low two scores are being counted on a given hole, and those scores are 0 and 1 (Stableford, remember), then the team score on that hole is 1.There are many variations to an Irish Four Ball (sometimes called Irish Stableford). Many Irish Four Balls use the two low balls per hole throughout the tournament. A more popular variation calls for the number of scores per hole to vary throughout the round in this fashion:

Holes 1-6: One low ball
Holes 7-11: Two low balls
Holes 12-15: Three low balls
Holes 16-18: All four scores

(Some using the above format eliminate the one-low ball option, and play six holes each using two low balls, three and four.)

Another variation determines scores based on the type of hole being played:

Par 3 Holes: Two low balls
Par 4 Holes: Three low balls
Par 5 Holes: All four scores

Another common Irish Four Ball variation is to stipulate that teams consist of two men and two women.

So there are many variations, but the basics are that teams consist of four, a Stableford system is used, and a pretermined number of low scores per hole make up the team score.


Jack and Jill

Definition: “Jack and Jill” is essentially just another word for “co-ed.” A Jack and Jill golf tournament is one is which men and women are paired together. They usually involve one man and one woman pairing up to form a 2-person team. The specific scoring used – best ball,alternate shot, etc. – can vary among just about any format suitable for 2-person teams.


Last Man Standing

Definition: Last Man Standing is another name for a Flags tournament. Each golfer begins the round with an allotment of strokes – usually his or her full or partial handicap plus the par of the course being played – and plays until those strokes are used up. The golfer who advances farthest around the course before using up his allotment of strokes is the winner.


Las Vegas

Definition: Las Vegas is a betting game for two teams of two players each. Winnings and losings can add up quickly in Las Vegas, so it’s a game preferred by better – and wealthier – players.In Las Vegas, each 2-person team plays for a team score on each hole. But it’s not a normal team score. The team members’ scores are not combined; rather, they are paired: Player A gets a 4, Player B gets a 5. The team score is not 9, it’s 45 (the lower number goes first).

If both players get 4s, that’s 44; if one gets an 8 and the other gets a 3, that’s 38.

The team score represents the number of points each team earns per hole. Points are tracked throughout the round and the differential is paid off at the end of the round. A single-hole example: Team A scores 4 and 5 for a 45; Team B scores 5 and 6 for a 56; the difference is 11 points.

Points can be worth any amount. Low-rollers should only play for nickels and dimes. Las Vegas is often played for a dollar per point, and it adds up quickly at that level.

And if your foursome is “flipping the bird,” the money can really start to change hands. When employing this rule, a team that makes a birdie and wins the hole can flip the other team’s score for that hole. So instead of the low number going first, the high number goes first. The opponent’s 5 and 6 wouldn’t be 56, but 65.

One safeguard: If one player scores 10 or more, that team’s score uses the high number first. So a 3 and a 10 is 103, not 310.


Las Vegas Scramble

Definition: The Las Vegas Scramble is a variation of a regular scramble that involves the use of a 6-sided die. Here’s how it works:Before play begins, assign a number from one to four to each member of your 4-person team. At each tee, all four members tee off, then the 6-sided die is thrown or rolled. Check the number that comes up on the die. If it is a 1, 2, 3 or 4, then the drive of the team member whose number matches must be used on that hole. (Example: On the first hole, all four team members hit drives. Then the number 3 is rolled. The drive hit by the team member who is designated No. 3 is the drive that must be played on this hole.)

If the die comes up 5 or 6, then the team can choose the best drive among the four.

Whether the die chooses your drive for you (rolling 1 through 4), or allows the team to choose the next drive (rolling 5 or 6), the hole is then played out as a normal scramble.

There is a lot of luck involved in a Las Vegas Scramble. The key point to remember is that the die is rolled only after each player has hit his drive.


Lone Ranger

Definition: Lone Ranger is a tournament format that is variously called Money Ball, Yellow Ball, Pink Ball or Pink Lady.On each hole, one player in each foursome is designated the “lone ranger.” That designation rotates throughout the round; for example, Player A has it on the first hole, B on the second, C on the third, D on the fourth, then back to A on the fifth and so on.

In Lone Ranger, two scores per hole are added together for the team score. Here’s the catch: One of those two scores must be from the Lone Ranger. So on each hole, the team score will be the score of the player designated the Lone Ranger, plus the lowest score of the other three players on the team.


Lone Wolf

Definition: Wolf is a betting game or points game for a group of four players.Players rotate being the “Wolf.” The player designated as the “Wolf” gets to choose whether to play the hole 1 against 3 (himself against the other three players in the group) or 2 on 2.

And if the Wolf chooses to play 2 on 2, he must choose his partner immediately following that player’s drive. Example: Player A is the Wolf. Player B hits a bad drive. Player C hits a pretty good drive. If the Wolf wants C as a partner, he must claim his partner before Player D hits his tee ball.

The side with the lowest better ball score wins the hole. If it’s 2 on 2, then the winning side wins the bet. If it’s 1 on 3, the Wolf wins double or loses double.

There’s also Lone Wolf, in which the Wolf announces before anyone tees off – including himself – that he’s going it alone, 1 on 3. On a Lone Wolf hole, the Wolf wins triple or loses triple.


Low Putts

Definition: Low Putts is a popular tournament format or side bet. It’s very simple: Keep track of your number of putts throughout the round. At the end of the round, total up the putts. The low individual or low group in number of putts is the winner.


Modified Pinehurst

Definition: Modified Pinehurst is a competition format for 2-person teams. In Modified Pinehurst, both team members tee off. They select the one best drive, then play alternate shot into the cup. The golfer whose drive was not chosen hits the second shot.In regular Pinehurst, the team members would switch balls after the drives, each play a second shot, and only then begin alternate shot.


Modified Stableford

Definition: Modified Stableford is a Stableford competition whose rules have been modified.OK, that was glib. Here’s a real definition: A Stableford competition employs a points system that is set forth in the Rules of Golf under Rule 32. A Modified Stableford is a competition that employs the same principle – golfers are awarded points based on their performance on each hole, with the highest point total winning – but with a different set of points than what is described in the rulebook.

Modified Stableford is better known than Stableford because a PGA Tour event, The International, is played using Modified Stableford. At The International, points are awarded on this scale:

• Double Eagle: 8 points
• Eagle: 5 points
• Birdie: 2 points
• Par: 0 points
• Bogey: -1 point

Double Bogey or Worse: -3 points

(To see how this compares with the rulebook Stableford scoring, check out the Stableford definition.)

A Modified Stableford can have different point totals for different accomplishments as a tournament committee decides. It can also offer different points to different players for the same accomplishments.

For example, if handicaps are not being used in competition, they can be used to flight players into A, B, C and D. Then points are adjusted so that, as an example, a par gets an A player 0 points, a B player 1 point, a C player 2 points and a D player 3 points.


Money Ball

Definition: Money Ball (a k a Lone Ranger, Yellow Ball, Pink Ball, Pink Lady) is a game for 4-person teams that puts the onus on one player per hole to come through for the team.Each group of four players in a scramble has a ball that is marked in some way to designate it as the “money ball.” That ball rotates among players. For example, Player A uses it on the first hole, B on the second, C on the third, D on the fourth, then back to A on the fifth and so on.

In this game, two scores per hole are added together for the team score. Here’s the catch: One of those two scores must be from the player with the money ball. So on each hole, the team score will be the score of the player with the money ball, plus the lowest score of the other three players on the team.

There are a couple variations that add to the tension of the game. In one, if the player playing the money ball loses it, that player is eliminated from the game. The group would continue as a threesome with a new money ball.

In another, if the money ball is lost, the entire team is eliminated from the competition. Pretty harsh.

And in another, the money ball serves as a “bonus” competition. The 4-person teams compete using the two low scores on each hole; the money ball score is kept separately. The team with the lowest money ball score wins a bonus prize.


Murphy

Definition: A Murphy is a side bet that can be invoked by a golfer who is chipping to the green. The player declaring “Murphy” is betting that he can get up and down in two strokes.The bet amount must be decided before the round; also, players should agree before starting the round if the issuing of a Murphy means it is automatically accepted by the other players in the group, or if the other players get to decide individually whether to accept the bet.

And make sure everyone agrees on the area from which a Murphy can be declared. A Murphy can never be declared for a ball on the green, and most groups rule out balls on the fringe, too.


Mutt and Jeff

Definition: Mutt and Jeff is a tournament format or side bet in which the focus is on par-3s and par-5s only. The round of golf is completed, then the total net score for each player or each group on the par-3 and par-5 holes is recorded. The low net on those long and short holes is the winner.


Nassau

Definition: The Nassau is one of the most popular golf tournament formats and golf bets. It’s essentially three tournaments (or bets) in one: the front nine, back nine and 18-hole scores all count as separate tournaments or bets.In a Nassau tournament, the player (or team) winning the front nine wins a prize, the player (or team) winning the back nine gets a prize, and the player or team with the low 18-hole total wins a prize.

As a bet, the most common form is the $2 Nassau. The front nine is worth $2, the back nine is worth $2 and the 18-hole total is worth $2. A player or team sweeping all three wins $6.

The type of scoring is really up the individuals. Stroke play or match play? Scramble, alternate shot, best ball? Full handicaps, partial handicaps, no handicaps? You decide. It’s not like there are “official” rules for this sort of thing.

While the $2 Nassau sounds innocent enough, winnings can pile up if a higher initial bet is made, or if a lot of “pressing” takes place.

A player or team that is trailing in a Nassau can “press the bet” – opening a new bet to run concurrently with the bet that has been pressed. A Nassau that has been pressed and re-pressed and double-pressed and pressed even more can wind up costing someone a lot of money.


Nasties

Definition: Nasties can be a side bet in any group of golfers. Determine the value of each “nasty” before the round begins. Nasties are automatically won by any golfer holing a shot from off the green. Decide before the round if chip-ins from the fringe count.


Nicklauses

Definition: Nicklauses is a side bet among a group of golfers. Nicklauses are automatically won by the long drive on each hole. Decide before the round the amount of the bet. Long drives must be in the fairway to win the bet. If no drives find the fairway, the “Nicklaus” carries over to the next hole.Golfers younger than 40 might call this bet “Tigers.”


Nines

Definition: Nines is a points-based competition between players in a group of four, or a side bet in any competition where groups of four are playing (in a four ball or foursomes match, for example, the players in the match might agree to a side bet using Nines).Nine points are at stake on each hole, hence the name of the game. The low score on a hole is worth 5 points, the second-lowest 3 points, the next lowest 1 point and the high score 0 points.

The bet can be based on total points – the high-point player is paid by the other three – or can involve point differentials and a per-point value.


No Alibis

Definition: No Alibis is a game of do-overs, or mulligans that can be used from any point on the course. In No Alibis, handicaps are converted into free shots that are used during a round.Say a player has a 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. Hit a bad shot off the second tee? Hit it again. Now you’ve got 13 left.

The game can be played with full handicaps (as in the example above) but it 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.


No Putts

Definition: No Putts is the opposite of Low Putts: Rather than the winner being determined by fewest putts, in No Putts the winner is determined by all strokes other than putts. At the end of the round, subtract the number of putts from the total strokes; the player or group with the fewest remaining strokes played is the winner. In No Putts, putts just don’t count.


Odds and Evens

Definition: Odds and Evens is a competition format that is almost identical to Alternate Shot. The players on a 2-person team alternate hitting one ball. The first player tees off, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed.The difference is this: In Alternate Shot, the players alternate hitting tee shots. In Odds and Evens, one player hits the tee shot on even holes, the other hits the tee shots on odd holes.

But wait, you say, isn’t that the same thing? Almost. In traditional alternate shot, the players on a team get to choose who tees off on No. 1, and alternate from there. In Odds and Evens, the player who tees off on No. 1 is chosen by some random method.

It’s a very, very small difference that really just takes one decision out of the hands of the players.


One Club

Definition: One Club is a golf tournament or game that is exactly what it sounds like: all the players play with just one club. The club can be specified by the tournament organizers, but usually the choice of club is left up to each player.


Par Is Your Partner

Definition: “Par Is Your Partner” is a rule or stipulation put into place in a tournament that limits a player’s or team’s maximum score on each hole to a net par. It’s a pace-of-play measure to keep tournament rounds from reaching excessive lengths.When “Par Is Your Partner” is in place, you pick up your ball and move on when you can no longer beat a score of net par on the hole you’re playing (net par is the maximum score, so that’s what you write on the scorecard if you pick up).

Par Is Your Partner can be used in conjuction with just about any format but is especially popular in scrambles. A tournament using Par Is Your Partner can be scored at stroke play using handicaps, or sometimes a point system is employed.

When the point system is used, Par Is Your Partner works this way: a net birdie is worth 1 point, a net eagle 2 points, a net double eagle 3 points. Since net par is the maximum score, pars are worth 0 points. In this case, total points rather than strokes is what determines the winner.


Par or Out

Definition: Par or Out is a game for low-handicappers or a side bet (or additional prize) in an event where full handicaps are being used. Because, as the name implies, participants (in either a competition or betting game) must make at least par on every hole – or they’re out.All participants continue playing their round after they’ve dropped out, but the winner of Par or Out is the last golfer remaining after all others have made a bogey.


Peoria System

Definition: The Peoria System is a sort of 1-day handicapping system for tournaments in which most of the golfers do not have real handicap indexes (company outings, for example).The Peoria System – while, like the similar Callaway System, based in certain part on luck – allows a “handicap allowance” to be determined and then applied to each golfer’s score.

The tournament committee secretly selects six holes. These are usually two par 3s, two par 4s and two par 5s, and often one of each type per nine (one par 3 on the front, the other on the back nine). Competitors do not know which holes have been selected.

Groups tee off and complete their rounds, playing stroke play and scoring in the normal fashion with one exception: double par is the maximum (i.e., 8 is the maximum score on a par-4). Following completion of play, the six Peoria holes are announced.

Each player totals his six secret holes. That total is multiplied by 3; par is subtracted from that total; then the resulting number is multiplied by 80 percent. This is the player’s allowance. The allowance is subtracted from the player’s gross score and the result is the net Peoria System score.

Example: On the six holes, Player A uses 30 strokes. 30×3=90. 90 minus par-72 is 18. Eighty percent of 18 is 14 (round off). Fourteen is the allowance. Player A’s gross score is 90; 90 minus 14 results in a Peoria System net score of 76.

Peoria is sometimes called Bankers System or a Bankers Handicap.


Pick Up Sticks

Definition: Pick Up Sticks, a k a Bag Raid, is a match play game between two players. It’s pretty simple: Every time a player wins a hole, his opponent gets to choose one club from his bag and remove that club from play.Example: After A wins the first hole, B removes A’s pitching wedge from play. For the rest of the round, A cannot use that pitching wedge.

Any club can be chosen, but most players give immunity to the putter (otherwise it would be the first club to go, and putting is hard enough without having to do it without a putter).

The strategy – well, aside from the strategy of not losing holes – is to first remove from your opponent’s bag the clubs which he’s most comfortable and best with.

When playing Pick Up Sticks, make sure you carry the maximum allowed 14 clubs at the start of the round.

This can be a good game for learning creative shots and practicing draws, fades, punch shots and the like. Because by the turn – unless you’re winning every hole – you’ll be playing shots for which you may no longer have the appropriate club.


Pinehurst

Definition: Also known as Chapman System, Pinehurst (or Pinehurst System) is a 2-person team competition format. The “inventor,” Dick Champman – a great amateur golfer who played The Masters 17 consecutive years – came up with the format at Pinehurst Resort. Hence, the format is Chapman or Pinehurst. And, for good measure, it is less frequently referred to as American Foursomes.In the Pinehurst System, both players tee off, then they switch balls. Player A plays Player B’s drive, and vice-versa. Each player hits the second shot. They then select the best of the second shots, and from that point until the ball is holed they play only one ball in an alternate shot format. Got it?

Switch balls after the drive, select the one best ball after the second shot, play alternate shot until the ball is holed. The player whose second ball was not chosen gets to play the third shot (so teams might sometimes choose the best ball after two shots based on who will get to hit the third).

Pinehurst (or Chapman, or American Foursomes, or whatever you want to call it) can be played as stroke play or match play.

If playing your team against my team with all four players of equal abilities, play it at scratch. But it’s a great game for twosomes of varying abilities, or husbands and wives.

Handicap allowances for Pinehurst competitions can be found in the USGA Handicap Manual, Section 9-4 (www.usga.com).


Pink Lady

Definition: Pink Lady is another name for the tournament (or tournament-within-a-tournament) also known as Money Ball, Lone Ranger, Pink Ball or Yellow Ball. Pink Lady is a game for 4-person teams that puts the onus on one player per hole to come through for the team.Each group of four players in a scramble has a special, designated ball (if the tournament is called Pink Lady, then the ball will be pink, natch). That ball rotates among players. For example, Player A uses it on the first hole, B on the second, C on the third, D on the fourth, then back to A on the fifth and so on.

In this game, two scores per hole are added together for the team score. Here’s the catch: One of those two scores must be from the player with the Pink Lady. So on each hole, the team score will be the score of the player with the designated ball, plus the lowest score of the other three players on the team.

There are a couple variations that add to the tension of the game. In one, if the player playing the money ball loses it, that player is eliminated from the game. The group would continue as a threesome with a new Pink Lady ball.

More commonly, a Pink Lady Tournament is a “bonus” competition. The 4-person teams compete using the two low scores on each hole, or the Pink Lady is used only on designated holes (par 3s and par 5s, for example, or four par 4s). The Pink Lady score is kept separately. The team with the lowest Pink Lady score wins a bonus prize.


Play It Again, Sam

Definition: Play It Again Sam is often just another name for No Alibis. In this version, handicaps are converted into, essentially, mulligans. If you are a 14 handicap, then you’ll get 14 chances during a round to re-play a stroke. (See No Alibis link above for full explanation of this version.)However, Play It Again Sam is also often a term used for a game that is sort of the opposite of No Alibis. Instead of each golfer being able to replay his or her own strokes, in this version of Play It Again Sam your opponent gets to make you replay strokes.

Hit a fantastic approach to within inches of the cup? Your opponent can make you hit it again. Sink a long putt? Your opponent can call “do over.”

This version is best played among good friends, for obvious reasons, and is only well-suited to groups of players of similar abilities. Also, it is advisable, in the interest of time, to limit the number of strokes that are re-playable.


Polee

Definition: A Polee is a side bet that can have several different meanings, depending on who’s playing:1. A Polee might be a one-time-only bet during the course of a round. In this case, set the bet amount prior to the round. The first member of the group who gets an approach shot within the length of the flagstick wins the Polee.

2. A Polee might also be a continuing bet throughout the round. Any time a member of the group puts an approach shot within the length of the flagstick, they win a Polee. In this variation, a stipulation is usually that the approach must be from 150 yards or more out.

3. And another continuing bet throughout the round: In this version, a Polee is won by anyone who sinks a putt from outside the length of the flagstick. Each Polee is worth one point, and whomever has the most points at the end of the round wins the bet. (Be sure to measure putts close to the flagstick distance before the putt is attempted.)


Powerball

Definition: Powerball is sometimes used as a synonym for scramble. However, it usually means the tournament is a scramble with a twist.The twist is that a certain number of holes in the round will be designated as powerball holes. On those holes (usually just 4 or 5, rarely more than 6), one member of the foursome gets to tee off from the forward tees; the catch is that tee shot must be used, regardless of how good (or bad) it turns out to be.

If four holes are designated powerball holes, then each member of the foursome will have to hit one of the powerball drives. Choose carefully! On the powerball hole where the potential gain is greatest, have the best driver tee off. On the hole that is wide open with very little trouble, have the worst driver tee off.

If five holes are designated powerball holes (which is more or less the standard), the rule of thumb is that three of the four members must hit powerball drives. This allows the best driver of the group to hit three of the drives, while forcing two other members to come through for the team.


Press

Definition: The press, at its most basic, is a second bet that begins during the course of a round, joining and running concurrently with the original bet. When one player presses, he is starting the second bet, or “pressing the bet.” The second bet is usually for the same amount as the original bet.Players can agree to use presses with any type of match, but the Nassau is the “home” of the press, and pressing is easily most associated with Nassaus.


Putt for Dough

Definition: Putt for Dough is a points game that can be played within a foursome, or a side bet for any group of golfers.In Putt for Dough, the object is to make putts. No surprise there. But the key is to 1-putt – every 1-putt is worth a set amount of points. The amount of points is determined by the distance of the putt.

Point values are 4, 3, 2 and 1. The member of the foursome who is farthest from the cup, once all members are on the green, gets 4 points if he 1-putts. The next player up gets 3 points for a 1-putt, the next 2 and the closest to the hole gets 1 point for a 1-putt.

Anyone who 3-putts loses a point. Anyone who holes out from off the green with something other than a putter gets a 5-point bonus. And if, at the end of the round, one player has achieved at least one putt or chip-in of each level, that player gets a 10-point bonus.

Play it for total points and bragging rights, or assign a dollar value to the points and pay out the differences at the end of the round.


Rabbit

Definition: This golf side bet gets its name from the term used to describe a pacesetter. Someone who runs out ahead of the field in a mile run, for example, is called the rabbit. They are out ahead of the pack, setting the pace.In Rabbit, the object is to achieve the low score on a hole, and to have that honor after the 9th and 18th holes.

Here’s how Rabbit works: When the round begins, the first player to to singly have the low score on a hole captures the Rabbit (in other words, if two players tie for low score, no one captures the Rabbit – the honor must be won singly).

If on a following hole someone other than the holder of the Rabbit is the low scorer, the Rabbit is set free. And then the Rabbit can be won back by the next player to singly achieve a low score on a hole. So before another player can tame the Rabbit, the Rabbit must first be set free.

As a side bet, this one pays the player who holes the Rabbit on the 9th hole and on the 18th hole. They can and often will be different players; sometimes no one will win either instance because the Rabbit will be free.

If you want to make sure that Rabbit pays out, then eliminate the step of setting the Rabbit free. When a different player achieves a low score, the Rabbit changes hands at that point.


Reverse Scramble

Definition: In a normal scramble, members of a team tee off, then choose the best of the tee shots, and all team members then play their second shot from that location. The best of the second shots is chosen, and so on, until the ball is holed.As you might guess, a reverse scramble is, well, the reverse of that: the worst of the tee balls is chosen, and that’s where the second shot is played. The worst of the second shots is chosen, and the third stroke is played from that location; and so on, until the ball is holed.

We strongly recommend against using reverse scramble as the format for a tournament. This game requires many more strokes to complete a round, and takes a lot of time to play for groups of golfers.

Instead, treat reverse scramble as a practice game. Play it when you’re on the course alone, hitting two balls off each tee. Or play it against one friend in a twosome, with each of you hitting two balls on each hole.

Because of the added time a reverse scramble adds to a round, it’s recommended that you play it only when your course is uncrowded and golfers behind won’t have to wait on you.

Reverse scramble is a good practice game because choosing the worst of two balls will allow you to hit many more shots of different varieties, shots you probably don’t otherwise practice very often.


Round Robin

Definition: Round Robin, sometimes called Hollywood or Sixes, is a game for groups of four golfers.Round Robin pits the group members against each other, 2 on 2. The catch: Players rotate partners after every six holes so that each member of the foursome, over the course of the round, partners with every other member.

Any scoring format for the 6-hole matches can be used, and each 6-hole segment is a separate wager. If at the end of the 18 holes you’ve been on two winning sides and one losing side, you come out ahead.

Round Robin is best played by partners of similar skill levels, or by golfers using full handicaps.


Sandie

Definition: Depending on who’s using the term, a “sandie” can mean making par on a hole in which you were in a bunker, or getting out of a bunker and into the hole in two strokes.On the PGA Tour, the statistical category called “sand save percentage” refers to getting up-and-down out of a greenside bunker. Score doesn’t matter. It could be for a 9, but if a player is in a greenside bunker, then gets out and into the hole in two strokes (up-and-down), it’s a sandie.

For amateurs, “sandie” is more likely to refer to a betting game whereby any player making par after having been in a bunker on the hole wins points or money. The bunker can be at any spot on the hole. But the particulars are really up to those playing the game.


Scotch Foursomes

Definition: Scotch Foursomes is a competition format that is often no more than another term for Foursomes. That is, 2-person teams play the same ball throughout the round of golf, alternating shots: The first player tees off, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed.However, Scotch Foursomes can have a twist, not found in Foursomes, relating to the tee ball. In Foursomes, players on a team alternate hitting the tee ball so that each player hits nine tee shots.

However, if a tournament is advertised as “Scotch Foursomes” rather than just “Foursomes,” that might mean that the alternate shot carries over from hole-to-hole. If Player A made the last putt on the preceding hole, then Player B tees off on the next hole.

So while Scotch Foursomes is often just another term for regular Foursomes, it can mean something slightly different and it’s a good idea to clarify the rules before teeing off.


Scramble

Definition: The Scramble is one of the primary forms of tournament play for golf associations, charity events and the like. A scramble is usually played with 4-person teams, but 2-person scrambles are popular, too. At a 2-person scramble, handicaps are usually applied; at a 4-person scramble, handicaps are usually not applied – unless it is an Ambrose-style scramble.In a scramble, each player tees off on each hole. The best of the tee shots is selected and all players play their second shots from that spot. The best of the second shots is determined, then all play their third shots from that spot, and so on until the ball is holed.

When played as a foursome, teams are usually constructed with an A player, B player, C player and D player, with those players designated based on handicaps. The A player would the low-handicapper, the D player the high-handicapper.

A scramble might require A and B players to tee off from the back tees and C and D players from the middle tees; or A’s from the back, B’s and C’s from the middle and D’s from the front; or the tournament organizers might specify that all players play from the same set of tees.


Scruffy

Definition: A Scruffy is a side bet in which a golfer, after hitting his drive, wagers that he will par the hole.The player issuing the Scruffy may do so after any drive – good, bad or otherwise – but Scruffies are traditionally issued after poor drives. Scruffies are not automatic – that is, the other members of the group must agree to accept the challenge after it has been issued – so calling “Scruffy” after a great drive might not get you anywhere.

If the player calling Scruffy pars the hole, he wins the bet from those who accepted it; if he makes bogey or worse, he owes the players who accepted the bet the agreed upon amount. The Scruffy amount should be set before the round starts.


Selected Score

Definition: Are you the type of golfer who enjoys playing 36 holes in a day? Then find one, two or three other such golfers and play Selected Score.Selected Score is a game or bet played over 36 holes of golf. To play Selected Score, start by playing 36 holes. Both rounds have to be on the same course.

Then, compare your scorecards. Select the better of the two scores you made on each hole. Add up those 18 scores for your total. Pretty simple. Low score wins.

You can play the game without playing 36 holes in a single day, however. Just schedule rounds on consecutive days (as many as you want) and then compare the scorecards after the last round.


Seve

Definition: A Seve is a side bet that can have one of three meanings:1. Synonym for Arnies. A golfer wins a Seve on a hole he pars without having hit the fairway.

2. Synonym for Barkies or Woodies. A golfer wins a Seve for making par on a hole on which he hits a tree.

3. Or the golfer wins a Seve when he makes par after hitting into the wrong fairway.

The Seve is named for Seve Ballesteros.


Shamble

Definition: A shamble is a type of golf tournament that combines elements of a scramble with elements of stroke play.Like in a scramble, all members of a team (usually four) tee off and the best ball of the four tee shots is selected. All players move their balls to the spot of the best ball. From this point, the hole is played out at stroke play, with all members of the team playing their own ball into the hole.

So: select the best shot off the tee, move all balls to that spot, then play individual stroke play until each member of the group has holed out.

Shamble tournaments are also known as “brambles.” Shambles should be played with full handicaps to make sure weaker players contribute to the team score. (Scoring, as with scrambles, can be done any number of ways, such as using one low ball per hole as the team score, or using two or three low balls per hole. Shamble scoring is only limited by the tournament director’s imagination.)


Sixes

Definition: Sixes, sometimes called Hollywood or Round Robin, is a game for groups of four golfers.Sixes pits the group members against each other, 2 on 2. The catch: Players rotate partners after every six holes so that each member of the foursome, over the course of the round, partners with every other member.

Any scoring format for the 6-hole matches can be used, and each 6-hole segment is a separate wager. If at the end of the 18 holes you’ve been on two winning sides and one losing side, you come out ahead.

Sixes is best played by partners of similar skill levels, or by golfers using full handicaps.


Skins Game

Definition: Skins are what the skins game is played for. A skins game pits players in a type of match play in which each hole has a set value (usually in money or points). The player who wins the hole is said to win the “skin,” and whatever that skin is worth. Skins games are often more dramatic than standard match play because holes are not halved. When players tie on a given hole, the value of that hole is carried over and added to the value of the following hole. The more ties, the greater the value of the skin and the bigger the eventual payoff. For example, a friendly skins game might be played for $1 per hole. If three holes in a row are played without a winner, then the fourth hole is worth $4 ($1 for its own value, plus a dollar for each hole that carries over).


Stealies

Definition: “Stealies” is a type of golf bet that runs in conjunction with a closest-to-the-pin (KP) bet. When “stealies” are in effect, the losers of the closest-to-the-pin wager are given the chance to steal the pot.The members of a foursome have agreed to wager on each of the golf course’s par-3 holes. The closest to the pin on each of the par 3s wins the bet.

In “stealies,” any player who birdies the par 3 without being closest to the pin steals the wager. The birdie can be holed from anywhere on the course (chip-in, etc.). But the KP winner can steal the bet back by making his own birdie putt. Whenever more than one player birdies on a KP holes, the “stealies” bet goes to the last one in.


Strike Three

Definition: Strike Three is a tournament format or a betting game among friends. Pretty simple: At the end of the round find your three highest individual hole scores … and erase them. Add up your score, minus the three highest holes, and low score wins.


String It Out

Definition: String It Out is a tournament format or betting game that is best played with partial handicaps because it includes a twist that offers a small boost to higher-handicappers.In String It Out – sometimes called simply “String” – all players are issued a length of string prior to the round’s start. The string can be used at any time during the round by a player who wants to improve his lie.

Example: Your ball is sitting down in heavy rough, but if you could move it just one foot, you’d have a great lie. OK, take out your length of string, string it out in the direction you want to move the ball. If the string reaches the point where you’d like to place your ball, you can move the ball.

The catch is that each time you use your string, you must cut off the amount of string corresponding to the distance your ball was moved. Move your ball six inches to get out of a bunker, cut six inches off your string (a ball can be moved out of any hazard other than a water hazard).

The string can be used at any time, but, obviously, must be used judiciously or it runs out pretty quickly.

There are a couple options for the length of the string. All players can be issued the same length (usually a yard). In that case, use full handicaps. Or a player can be issued a length corresponding to his handicap. A 15 handicapper would get 15 feet of string; a 2 handicapper two feet. In that case, use partial (usually 3/4) handicaps.


Shoot Out

Definition: Shoot Out is a tournament format with a field of 19 players. On each hole, one player is eliminated until only one remains – the champion, crowned on the 18th hole.Shoot Out is a slow game, very slow in the early going, because all remaining players must complete each hole before play moves on. On each hole, the high score is eliminated. Expect a lot of playoffs in the early going, adding even more time.

Alternately, Shoot Out might start with 19 twosomes playing alternate shot, but that will make the early holes even more time consuming.

Shoot Out is a fun game, but you better have plenty of time available to play it. Variations include using a smaller field and playing just nine holes, which can help speed things up.


Snake

Definition: Snake is a golf betting game that bites the member of the foursome who has most recently three-putted.This betting game was suggested by Dr. Sean K. Kesterson of Brighton, Mich., who explains it this way:

“(Snake) is a putting game. At the beginning of the round, all players in the foursome agree on the bet amount. Whoever three-putts first gets and keeps the ‘snake’ until someone else three-putts, then it changes owner to that golfer … and so on. Whoever is the last with the snake pays the other players in the foursome the agreed amount.

“I carry an actual huge rubber snake and we throw it at each other during the round, and it hangs off your bag or your golf cart somewhere. People look at others who are facing very long putts and make hissssssssssing sounds.”


Splashies

Definition: Splashies are a type of side bet, the value of which is agreed upon before the round begins.A golfer wins a “splashie” by achieving par on a hole despite hitting into water. Some groups stipulate that the ball must be lost, but Splashies is usually played without that stipulation – the bet would be won whether the ball was lost or not, so long as it finds water.


Stableford

Definition: A Stableford competition is a golf tournament in which the object is to get thehighest score. That’s because in Stableford, golfers are awarded points based on their scores in relation to a fixed score at each hole. That fixed score can be par, or any number of strokes a tournament committee chooses (6, 8, whatever).The USGA and R&A define Stableford points in this manner:

• More than 1 over fixed score (or no score returned) – 0 points
• One over fixed score – 1 point
• Fixed score – 2 points
• One under fixed score – 3 points
• Two under fixed score – 4 points
• Three under fixed score – 5 points

Four under fixed score – 6 points

Rules related to Stableford competitions can be found in the official rules under Rule 32.

Stableford competitions are usually played with full handicaps, but might be played at scratch with handicaps used to determine higher point rewards for higher handicappers. For example, golfers might be flighted as A, B, C and D players, with points adjusted so that a par gets an A player 0 points, a B player 1 point, a C player 2 points and a D player 3 points.

Golfers might be more familiar with the term Modified Stableford, which refers to a Stableford competition in which the points or exact format differs from the Stableford system described in the rulebook. See Modified Stableford.


Switch

Definition: Switch can be a tournament format or a betting game. Either way, it involves 2-person teams on which the players switch balls following the tee shots, then play out the hole using those balls.For example, Players A and B tee off. Player A now switches to B’s ball and vice-versa. Player A continues playing that ball he’s switched to until it is holed, as does B.

Switch can be played as stroke play or match play; the total strokes for both players can be used, or just the better ball of the two.


System 36

Definition: System 36 is a same-day handicapping system similar in function to Callaway and Peoria. It allows golfers who do not have a handicap index to play golf tournaments and compete for low-net titles or prizes. The “handicap” is determined following the round according to System 36 strictures.Here’s how System 36 works:

Throughout the round, the golfer accrues points based on the following formula:

  • Double bogey or worse – 0 points
  • Bogey – 1 point
  • Par or better – 2 points

At the end of the round, points earned are tallied. The total is subtracted from 36, and the resulting number is the golfer’s handicap allowance. His net score can then be computed using his System 36 handicap allowance.

For example, let’s say you go out and shoot 90, and along the way to that 90 you have seven pars, nine bogeys, and two double-bogeys or worse.

First, calculate your accrued points:
7 (pars) x 2 (points per par) = 14
9 (bogeys) x 1 (point per bogey) = 9
2 (doubles or worse) x 0 (points per double) = 0

So your point total is 23. Now, subtract this total from 36:
36 – 23 = 13

So 13 is your handicap allowance. Now apply this to your gross score:
90 – 13 = 77

And 77 is your net score based on System 36 handicapping.


T and F

Definition: The “T” and “F” in a T and F tournament refers to the first letter of the holes on the course (e.g., Three, Four, etc.). In a T and F tournament, those holes hold special significance.A T and F tournament can be played using just about any scoring format (scramble, best ball, individual stroke, etc.). There are two ways the format is played most commonly:

    1. With teams of three or more, or in individual competition, a T and F tournament counts only scores recorded on holes beginning with “t” or “f.” There are nine of those holes, four on the front nine, five on the back nine.2. With 2-person teams, one person’s scores are used on the “t” and “f” holes, the other partner’s scores are used on the remaining nine holes. This format forces both players to contribute nine holes each to the team’s 18-hole score.

In version two, it might be announced ahead of time by tournament organizers which golfer gets the “t” and “f” holes; it may be left up to the partners to decide; or it might be announced only upon completion of play.


Texas Scramble

Definition: Texas Scramble is a competition format that is a basic scramble with a slight twist.Scrambles involve 4-person teams playing four balls, but with each shot coming from the same spot (the best of the four drives is chosen and all four team members then hit from that spot, and so on).

The variation in a Texas Scramble is that at least four drives of each member of the team must be used during the course of the round: At least four drives hit by Player A, four by Player B, and so on. In a regular scramble, a great driver might have his tee ball used on every hole. A Texas Scramble eliminates that possibility and allows even the weakest driver on the team to get into the action.


Thirty-Two

Definition: Thirty-Two is a side bet for golfers that focuses on putting. It’s essentially a challenge from one golfer to another to avoid a three-putt.Let’s say your buddy is facing a long, difficult putt. You invoke the thirty-two side bet. If your buddy three-putts (or worse), he owes you two units of the bet. If he two-putts (or better), you owe him three units of the bet. (If the bet is $1, for example, and he three-putts, he owes you $2; if he two-putts, you owe him $3).


Three Ball

Definition: A Three Ball match is essentially two match play matches per player in one round of golf.In Three Ball, the members of a group of three players compete in match play against one another, with each member of the group playing individual matches against the other two members.

For example, players A, B and C are playing a Three Ball match. At each hole, Player A is playing separate matches against both B and C; B against both A and C; C against both A and B.


Three Club Monte

Definition: Three Club Monte is a golf format that requires the players to pick just three clubs to use during their round. All players are allowed their putters in addition to the three other clubs they choose. The choice of clubs can’t be changed during the round – once you’ve chosen a 3-wood, 5-iron and 9-iron, for example, those are the only clubs (other than putter) you can use during the round.Three Club Monte is a good game to play in order to learn and practice half-shots, knock-downs and so forth.


Three-Putt Poker

Definition: As described in a Golf Digest article, Three-Putt Poker is a golf betting game that combines an element of poker with the golfers’ performance on the greens.At the beginning of the round, the members of the group ante up the opening bet (say $5 each) and each member is dealt one playing card. On each green of the front nine, any golfer who 3-putts is required to add to the pot (for a $5 initial bet, a 3-putt can require $1 more to the pot). But each golfer who records a 1-putt is dealt an additional playing card.

At the end of the front nine, the golfer whose cards yield the best poker hand wins the pot. And the game starts over for the second nine.

The amount of the bet is, of course, up to the group members. For a $1 initial bet, additions to the pot as a result of 3-putts might be a quarter. For a $10 initial bet, perhaps $2.

And just as with regular poker, Lady Luck plays a big part. One golfer might earn 5 more cards while another earns no additional cards, but it’s still possible for that one card to win the pot if no other golfers can beat it.


Threesomes

Definition: A type of match in which one golfer plays against a team of two golfers, with each side playing one ball.The single player, obviously, is playing his own ball throughout; the team side plays alternate shot. Threesomes can be played as stroke play or match play.


Tombstone

Definition: Tombstone is a competition format that is more commonly known as Flags or Flag Competition.In Tombstone, golfers begin their rounds with an allotment of strokes and they play until their strokes run out. The golfer who makes it farthest around the course is the winner.

The name comes from the fact that each golfer carries with him a flag, a small clipboard or other item to be staked in the ground at the point of their final stroke. The “tombstone,” in this case, is the object placed in the ground where the golfer’s round meets its end.

For more explanation of Tombstone, a k a Flags, see our entry for Flags.


The Train

Definition: The Train is a golf betting game for groups that awards points for positive accomplishments – but can wipe those points away if something bad happens.In The Train, positive points are awarded thusly:

• Par – 1 point
• Birdie – 2 points

Eagle – 5 points

The object is to accumulate the most points over the course of your round. But there’s a catch, and it’s a big catch. If at any point in the round you make two bogeys in a row – or one double-bogey – you lose all your points are start over again at zero.

Groups can choose to set a monetary value for each point and pay out based on the differential in points. Or all members of the group can contribute to a pot before the round starts; at the end of the round, divvy up the pot based on percentage of total points earned (for example, if 28 total points are earned by the members of your group, and you earned 14 of them, you win 50-percent of the pot).


Triples

Definition: Triples can be a competition between players in a group of three, or a side bet in a three ball competition. Either way, it involves groups of three players.In Triples, a point value is assigned to a player’s standing on each hole. Most commonly, a player gets 6 points for having the best score on a hole, 4 points for the middle score and 2 points for the worst score.

For ties, the point values for the places in question are added together and divided by the number of players tied. Two examples: First, all three players tie on a hole. Six plus 4 plus 2 equals 12; 12 divided by 3 equals 4, all three players get 4 points. Second, two players tie for low score; 6 plus 4 equals 10; 10 divided by 2 equals 5; each of those two players gets five points.

The bet can based on overall result; i.e., the player with the most points wins the bet and a predetermined amount. Or it can be based on the differential in points between players; or each point can have a dollar value.


Trouble

Definition: Trouble, a k a Disaster, is a points game in which the winner at the end of the round is the player (or team) that has collected the fewest number of points.That’s because points are “awarded” for bad shots. Hit a ball out of bounds, that’s a point.

Points in Trouble can be given any value, and what earns a point can vary from group to group – it’s up to you. But a common point system is as follows:

• Water ball – 1 point
• Out of bounds – 1 point
• In a bunker – 1 point
• Failing to get ball out of bunker – 1 point
• 3-putt – 1 point
• 4-putt – 3 points
• Hitting from one bunker into another – 2 points

Whiff – 4 points

One variation of Trouble is to allow all points accumulated to be erased when a par is made. Golfers who are likely to add up a lot of points will enjoy that option.


Uglies

Definition: Uglies can be a side bet in any group of golfers. Determine the value of each “ugly” before the round begins. Uglies are automatically won by any golfer holing a shot from off the green. Also decide before the round if chip-ins from the fringe will count.


Whack and Hack

Definition: Whack and Hack is a tournament format for 4-person teams, or a betting game for several groups of four golfers each.In Whack and Hack, the four team members each play their own ball for four individual scores. Two of those scores are combined to make up the team score on each ohle. The two scores that are used are the low ball and the high ball. So if the four players score 4, 5, 6 and 7, respectively, the team score is 11 (4 + 7).

But there’s an exception. If the low ball for the team is a birdie or better, then the team gets to use its two low balls on that hole.


Wolf

Definition: Wolf is a betting game or points game for a group of four players.Players rotate being the “Wolf.” The player designated as the “Wolf” gets to choose whether to play the hole 1 against 3 (himself against the other three players in the group) or 2 on 2.

And if the Wolf chooses to play 2 on 2, he must choose his partner immediately following that player’s drive. Example: Player A is the Wolf. Player B hits a bad drive. Player C hits a pretty good drive. If the Wolf wants C as a partner, he must claim his partner before Player D hits his tee ball.

The side with the lowest better ball score wins the hole. If it’s 2 on 2, then the winning side wins the bet. If it’s 1 on 3, the Wolf wins double or loses double.

There’s also Lone Wolf, in which the Wolf announces before anyone tees off – including himself – that he’s going it alone, 1 on 3. On a Lone Wolf hole, the Wolf wins triple or loses triple.

For more details on Wolf, read this explanation of Wolf in Chi Chi Rodriguez’s book, “Golf Games You Gotta Play.”

Wolfman

Definition: Wolfman is a betting game that has silimarities to Wolf, Hog and Defender. But Wolfman is a game specifically for groups of three players, and in Wolfman, the “it” player, so to speak, is automatically chosen based on driving performance.Here’s how Wolfman works: All three players in the group tee off. On par 4s and par 5s, the middle drive (second-longest drive, in other words) becomes the Wolfman; on par 3s, the second closest to the hole is the Wolfman. The other two members of the group are the Hunters.

The hole is played out. The Hunters’ net scores are added together; the Wolfman’s net score is doubled. If the Wolfman’s doubled score is lower than the Hunters’ combined score, the Wolfman wins the hole (and the bet). If the Hunters’ combined score is lower, they win the hole and bet.

Say the bet is $1 per hole. If the Wolfman wins the hole, each Hunter owes the Wolfman $1; if the Hunters win the hole, the Wolfman owes each Hunter $1.


Yellow Ball

Definition: Yellow Ball (a k a Pink Ball, Pink Lady, Lone Ranger or Money Ball) is a game for 4-person teams that puts the onus on one player per hole to come through for the team.Each group of four players in a scramble has a yellow ball (or pink, or a white ball that has been marked) that rotates among players. For example, Player A uses it on the first hole, B on the second, C on the third, D on the fourth, then back to A on the fifth and so on.

In this game, two scores per hole are added together for the team score. Here’s the catch: One of those two scores must be from the player with the yellow ball. So on each hole, the team score will be the score of the player with the yellow ball, plus the lowest score of the other three players on the team.

Does the ball actually have to be yellow? Of course not, but the ball should be marked in some way to designate it as “the” ball.

There are a couple variations that add to the tension of the game. In one, if the player playing the yellow ball loses it, that player is eliminated from the game. The group would continue as a threesome with a new yellow ball.

In another, if the yellow ball is lost, the entire team is eliminated from the competition. Pretty harsh.

And in another, the yellow ball serves as a “bonus” competition. The 4-person teams compete using the two low scores on each hole; the yellow ball score is kept separately. The team with the lowest yellow ball score wins a bonus prize.

Shew….we told you it was a long list.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sig Bjornson August 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

We play a game here in the Central Colorado Rockies . . . “Get Shorty”!

Scored used the “Las Vegas” system. (i.e. low ball/high ball as a 2 digit score (45) for par/bogey . . .

A game for 4-somes. All players drive the ball . . . the LONG drive is paired with the SHORT drive on that hole. The 2 middle drives (the “Puddle”) play together. At the end of the hole – the players on the lower scoring team gets points (i.e. we got 46 – you get 57 . . . me and my pard would score 11 each).

We also play “The Stinger”! If one of us birdies the hole . . . our opponets score is reversed! a 46 becomes a 64!!

At the end of the round . . . $$$ is are paid by last paying first 2 times the bet, third paying second the bet. (i.e. a $10 bet would pay first place $20, second place $10 . . . third loses $10, and fourth loses $20)

A fun game because you play with everyone in your group at some point.

NOT recommended if you have one guy who always hits the long drive or if 1 guy is always the short hitter.

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constance September 13, 2013 at 3:33 am

how do you score suedois ( swedish ) first nine stableford ,second nine stroke play,
thank you

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