Golf and gambling go hand-in-hand for many players. Wagering a little money on the course can raise the stakes and make your round a lot more interesting. But you don’t want to lose your hard-earned cash due to lack of knowledge about the common golf side bets and games.
In this article, we’ll explain the rules and strategy for winning the most popular golf gambling games. Master these and you’ll have a leg up on your playing partners next time you’ve got a few dollars on the line.
One of the most common formats is called a Nassau, named after the Nassau Country Club in Long Island where it originated. It combines three separate bets on the front nine, back nine, and total 18 holes.
For example, if you and a partner are playing a $1 Nassau, you’d each put $3 into the pot. The player who wins the front nine would win $1, the player who wins the back nine wins $1, and the player who has the lowest total score over 18 holes wins $1. You can also vary the amounts bet on each segment.
To win at a Nassau, you need to play consistently well over all 18 holes. Build an early lead on the front, then focus on hanging on down the stretch on the back nine. Having a good short game will help you minimize bogeys and score points even when you miss greens in regulation. Avoiding any big blow-up holes is also key.
Bingo Bango Bongo
Bingo bango bongo is a skins-style game where you have the chance to win money on every hole, not just for the total score. It works like this:
Bingo = First player in the group to get their ball on the green wins the hole
Bango = Player closest to the pin once all balls are on the green wins the hole
Bongo = Player who is first to hole out wins the hole
So you can win one, two, or three bets on every hole. This adds excitement and rewards consistency across all parts of your game. To succeed at bingo bango bongo, you need to excel at driving accuracy, approaches, and short game. Be the first to hit greens in regulation and make sure you’re dialed in with your chipping and putting.
The wolf game lets one golfer “be the wolf” on each hole and individually bet against the rest of the group. Here’s how a typical wolf game works:
On the first tee, players draw numbers to determine the wolf order for the round
Player 1 is the wolf on hole 1 and can choose to play 1 vs 2&3, 1&2 vs 3, or 1&3 vs 2
The wolf gets to decide the bet amount for that hole, usually within a preset range
On the next hole, Player 2 is the wolf and selects their matchup, and so on throughout the round
To succeed as the wolf, you must win when you go 1 vs 2&3, and partner well when you opt for a team game. As a non-wolf, avoid being prey by playing at your best when the stakes are highest. Make putts and get up-and-down to deprive the wolf of winnings. Staying mentally tough is key.
Money ball is one of the simplest motifs. On a par-3 hole, each player contributes an equal amount to the pot. Whoever makes birdie wins all the money. If no one makes birdie, the pot amount rolls over to the next par-3. This continues until someone sinks a ball and claims the cash.
To win money ball, you need to be dialed in with your short irons and wedges. Hitting par-3 greens in regulation is crucial. And you absolutely must make birdie putts. Lagging it close isn’t good enough. Master distance control and READ the break accurately on short putts. The player who excels on par-3s will almost always come out ahead.
While betting on golf can lead to heavier pockets, it also often leads to tension and nerves. Be sure not to let gambling ruin the camaraderie and fun of your round. Establish expectations upfront to avoid disputes. And never bet more than you can comfortably afford to lose.
If you master the core strategies of the most popular games, you’ll definitely increase your chances of coming out a winner. Focus on consistency across all facets of your game, and dial in your short game scoring skills. Avoid blowing up on any single hole and make clutch putts when there’s money on the line.
So next time the stakes are a little higher at the club or public course, you’ll know exactly how to play smart and maximize your performance. Bet for fun but play to win!