For many, playing golf is exciting and rewarding, so why not amp it up even more with a bet or two? A friendly wager can also be a great way to maintain concentration during slow rounds.
Thankfully golf is rich with betting games that reward great shots and gamesmanship. Whether it’s the common Nassau bet or the fan-favorite Bingo Bango Bongo, or even Skins, having a strategy before you tee up is critical to taking big bucks from your buddies.
Here are six of the most popular golf betting games and tips to fatten your wallet.
The key to winning this classic betting game is understanding that it’s actually three bets in one:
- Bet 1: the front nine
- Bet 2: the back nine
- Bet 3: overall 18-hole winner
Before teeing off, golfers establish a dollar amount for each of the three bets, usually $2 or $5 (that’s why Nassau is sometimes referred to as “2-2-2,” “5-5-5,” or “5’s”). Traditionally, the round is scored using match play format, although there’s no reason you can’t use a much simpler stroke-play format. For a refresher on match play, How to Play and Win Big in a Match Play Golf Tournament is just what the doctor ordered.
Cool-headed match play masters understand that losing one hole doesn’t lose the entire match. For example, in Nassau losing the front nine 2-and-1 means your opponent wins Bet 1. But if you keep calm, catch fire and win the back nine 3-and-2, that means you win Bet 2. And when you calculate the overall 18-hole match, you win by 1-up and boom, you just claimed Bet 3 and a fatter wallet. So, don’t lose hope if you get waxed on the first nine, keep your eyes on the bigger prize.
Nassau: How to Play and Win Golf’s Best Betting Game shares more ways to play Nassau, master strategies for winning, and betting tips to line your pockets with green (of the paper variety).
Bingo Bango Bongo
This betting game is as fun as it sounds. In Bingo Bango Bongo, points are awarded throughout the round to a player who accomplishes one of three tasks:
- the first player in the group to hit his or her golf ball on the green (Bingo);
- the player in the group whose golf ball is closest to the pin after all the golf balls are on the green (Bango); and
- the first player in the group to hole out (Bongo)
Points are tallied after each hole and then totaled up at round’s end when differences are paid out. In Bingo Bango Bongo, your score doesn’t matter nearly as much (how liberating!) as mastering a strategy to score points.
Winning this golf betting game requires a bit of restraint. We all want to let the big dog eat and blast a drive down the fairway. But think about it, if hitting the green first gets you a point, why not hit your drive a little shorter than your opponents? Being further away from the hole grants you the first chance at hitting it on the green and securing a Bingo point. And better yet, even if you miss the green (and your opponent finds the green), you’ll have the chance to chip it close and earn the closest to the pin Bango point. It’s a win-win-win
Dots (aka “Garbage”)
Sometimes known as “Garbage,” Dots is really a collection of a lot of little golf bets. Eagles, birdies, long drives and closest to the pin are awarded points while bogeys, three-putts and water balls take them away. Points are assigned a dollar amount and added up at the end of the round to determine payouts.
Here’s a tip to connect the Dots to your bank account: just play good golf. Roll in birdies, crush tee shots and get up-and-down from the bunker to pile up points. It’s as easy as that; there’s no secret sauce to this betting game, just bring your A-game.
A classic foursome golf betting game, Wolf is all about strategy. First, the group decides on a permanent driving order, then the Wolf tees off first and watches the other shots. After each person hits their drive, the Wolf must decide immediately if he or she wants to partner with another golfer to create a two-on-two game. If the Wolf doesn’t like any of the drives, they can choose to go it alone and play their own shot in a one-on-three game.
Feeling like a big bad wolf? Golfers can declare themselves a “Lone Wolf” before anyone tees off and get the chance to win triple. Just make sure you don’t shank one into the trees because it can also cost you triple!
The format is better ball, meaning the best score between the partners – or Lone Wolf – wins the hole.
Win a hole, win some money. It’s that simple. This time-honored betting game rewards timely pars, birdies, and eagles. Before the round, playing partners decide how much a “skin” is worth, and whoever gets the lowest score on a hole, wins the skin.
The Golf Game of Skins: How to Play It and Betting Tips to Win Big can help you turn a simple Saturday skins golf game into high-intensity fun with some sneaky twists on this classic.
There’s no need to limit a Skins game to just your foursome. In fact, the more golfers you have in the group the more money there is in the Skins game. To dial up the drama on your next guys' golf trip, track Skins live across an entire group, provided all players are posting their (ahem, truthful) scores on to the 18Birdies scorecard.
Las Vegas (“Vegas”)
You and your buddies like to feel like high rollers? If so, this golf betting game is for you. To play Las Vegas or “Vegas” for short, your foursome splits into two teams and each side’s scores are paired together. Note, that’s paired together, not added together. Stay with us, it’s not as hard as Baccarat, we promise.
If Team A makes a 4 and 5, their score is 45. When playing Vegas, the smaller number always comes first (with one exception that we’ll cover shortly). The difference on each hole determines the number off points scored. If Team A shoots a 3 and 4 for a “34” and Team B fires a 5 and 6 for a “56,” the difference is 22 points. Depending how much each point is worth, big money can add up fast!
Here’s the exception noted above. The large number comes first if someone scores a 10 or more. So, if Team A scores a 10 and 4, it becomes “104” rather than “410,” helping cap the loss of money and pride.