The 8 Best Golf Betting Games

Golfers love to do two things – talk about their game and bet on the outcome. A great round feels even better if your friend has to reach for their wallet.

Can you make the critical putt on the 18th hole to win? With a little money on the line…

You don’t have to wager a lot of money, but playing golf betting games with your buddies is a great way to add some spice to your round.

We must give credit when credit is due. Golfers have figured out a lot of different ways to gamble with their playing partners.

Do you ever hear the golf gambling games on the first tee and wonder if they are speaking a different language? Bingo, Bango, What? Wolf? Trash?

Have no fear – we can help you speak fluent golf betting games.

Understanding golf betting games will help you strategize better and potentially give you the ability to offer a suggestion the next time someone asks “what do you want to play for today?“.

Below we highlight our favorite 8 golf betting games.

The 8 Best Golf Betting Games

1. Nassau

A Nassau bet is probably the most common golf betting game you will encounter on the course. It can be played between 2 or 4 players (2-player teams playing four-ball).

You can play this golf betting game at gross or net (using your golf handicap).

Rules For Nassau

The key to the Nassau golf betting game is that you have 3 separate bets. One for the front 9, one for the back 9, and one for the entire 18.

If you are playing in a foursome, you will need to select the teams (2 v. 2) and decide if you are going to play gross or net.

What is the wager going to be? Typically, between $2-$5. Remember, because you have 3 bets if you agree to play for $5, you are playing $5 on the front, $5 on the back, and $5 for the 18.

Normally, you also play for $1 for each birdie made.

You may hear golfers refer to this golf betting game as “5&1”. This means you are playing a $5 bet with $1 birdies.

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In 5&1 if you lose the front, back, entire 18, and the other team makes 3 more birdies than you – you lose $18 ($5+$5+$5+$3 = $18).

Some golfers also play “automatics” when playing Nassau. This means that anytime someone falls down by 2 holes, a new bet starts.

We recommend playing for a smaller amount (2&1) if you are going to play “automatics”. The extra bets can add up quickly.

The goal of friendly golf betting games should be to add enjoyment to the round, not clean out your buddies’ wallets.

2. Dots (aka Trash)

Dots or Trash is a fun golf betting game that you can play with 2, 3, or 4 players.

Dots involves winning points. You earn points by doing different things on each hole and you typically earn a specific amount of money for each point.

Each player pays out based on the difference between their points and the other golfers in the group.

In other words, if three golfers compete at “Dots” and player A wins 12 points, player B wins 8 points, and player C wins 20 points the payout would be as follows (let’s assume $1 per point):

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  • Player A wins $4 from Player B, but loses $8 to Player C (Net: -$4)
  • Player B loses $4 to Player A and $12 to Player C (Net: -$16)
  • Player C wins $8 from Player A and $12 from Player B (Net: $20)

Rules For Playing Dots

This is one of the more creative golf betting games. We have seen different golfers come up with all types of different “dots”, but here are some of the standard ones:

  • Sandy – your ball is in a bunker during a hole and you still make par (1 point)
  • Barky – your ball hits a tree and you still make par (1 point)
  • Pathy – your ball bounces off the cart path and you still make par (1 point)
  • Birdie – you make a birdie (1 point)
  • Hogan – named after Ben Hogan, you hit the fairway, you the hit the green, and you two putt for par (1 point)
  • Poley – you make a putt that is longer than the flagstick (1 point)
  • Scramble – you miss the fairway and you miss the green, but you still make par (1 point)
  • Chip-in – you make a shot from off the green (1 point)
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Keep in mind that you can do more than one thing on a hole. If your ball hits the cart path and goes in a bunker, you could earn 2 points on that hole.

As far as golf betting games go, dots is a fun one, but does take a fair amount of tracking on the scorecard.

3. Skins (aka Cuts)

After golf betting games for a crowd? Skins is one that can be played with any number of players from 3-20. You can play it across multiple groups.

You can play either gross or net skins – if you play gross skins, scratch golfers will have an advantage.

Rules for Skins

The goal in the Skins golf betting game is to have the lowest score on a hole of everyone playing. If two players tie for the lowest score, no one wins a skin on that hole.

In order to pay winners, you can either collect ahead of time and create a prize pot or you can pay out an amount for each one (each skin).

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Skins is one of the best golf betting games to do in combination with others. For example, you can have a skins game in your larger group (multiple foursomes) while playing a Nassau bet in each individual foursome.

The PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and Champions Tour will host skins contests from time to time as an exhibition match on TV.

4. 6-6-6

The 6-6-6 golf betting game is a slight modification of a Nassau bet and is perfect if you can’t agree on the appropriate teams (2 v. 2).

It is designed to be played with 4 players.

Each 6 holes is a new bet and you switch partners each time.

Rules For 6-6-6

Player A & Player B are partners for holes 1-6. Player A & Player C are partners for holes 7-12. Player A & Player D are partners for holes 13-18.

Each 6 holes constitute a unique bet – similar to Nassau, if you play a 3&1 6-6-6 golf betting game, you are betting $3 per match plus $1 for birdies.

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5. Wolf

Wolf is an exciting golf betting game that makes every hole a unique bet with different teams.

You can play Wolf with either 4 or 5 golfers all playing in the same group.

Rules For Wolf

To get started with this golf betting game, you need to establish the tee-off order and you must follow this order throughout your round.

Each hole one player will be “the wolf” and they must tee off first.

After “the wolf” tees off they watch the other players and must pick their partner based on their tee shot. They must select or pass on each player prior to the next playing teeing off.

Once they pick a player, this golfer is their partner for this single hole. All other players are trying to beat “the wolf” and the player “the wolf” picked.

On the next hole, the process starts over, but with a different person playing the role of “the wolf”.

Prior to playing, you do have to decide how much each hole will be worth.

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6. Riding Time

Riding Time is one of the more unique golf betting games that we would consider an “add-on” wager. You would typically play this at the same time as another game (Nassau or 6-6-6).

Quite simply, the goal is to keep honors (keep the tee box) for as long as possible. For every hole that you earn or keep honors you win a bet.

Typically, you play $1 or $3 per hole, Riding Time. Be careful, if you keep halving holes, one team can collect some serious money.

7. 9-Point Game

This is one of the rare golf betting games that is designed for 3 players instead of 2 or 4. It is perfect if you have a late cancellation from your foursome.

You can play this game gross or net (using your USGA golf handicap).

Rules for 9-Point

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On every hole, 9-points are distributed amongst the golfers based on how they score on that hole.

Before you tee off, you need to decide how much each point is worth.

First place is 5 points, 2nd is 3 points, and 3rd is 1 point. If you tie, you split the points.

For example, if two players tie with par and one player makes bogey. The pars get 4 points each and the bogey gets 1 point. If everyone ties, everyone gets 3 points.

At the end of your round, each player pays based on the differences in total points.

8. $X per Hole

Did the first 7 golf betting games seem a bit complicated? Do you want something nice and simple?

No problem. Just make a bet per hole won. Play $5 per hole and each time a player or team (2 v. 2) wins a hole, they win a bet.

You can spice this game up by allowing the player or team that is behind to double the bet at any time. Keeps it interesting!

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Golf Betting Games – Create Fun, Not Bankruptcy

Gambling with your buddies during your weekend round by incorporating golf betting games is a great way to add excitement to your game. It adds a little pressure and can lead to more laughs.

Just be careful – don’t play for too much money and cause bitterness in the player that loses.

Keep it light – keep it fun. If you are the big winner on a specific day, make sure you buy the drinks in the 19th hole!

Want To Insure You Win?

Check out these articles to help you show your buddies what you’re made of next time you play a golf betting game:

The Complete Golf Swing Sequence Guide: 7 Steps

Golf Ball Position Explained: Get It Right

Ray Dingledine

Ray Dingledine

Ray has played golf for over 30 years and competed at the collegiate level. He enjoys growing the game of golf through coaching PGA Jr. and High School golf teams. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +1 handicap.

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