January Golf Tip

January Golf Tip


One thing almost all golfers have in common and love to do when out on the course is to have some sort of wager/bet on the round. It could be for something as simple as who buys beer at the clubhouse afterwards or for high stakes money but whatever it is having a friendly wager can add a lot of fun and excitement to the round of golf. There are a number of games out there golfers can play but below are 5 that I have found and believe to be a lot of fun and a way to mix it up from the same games we play every day.

1. Chicago (also known as Hurdles or Affirmative Action)

Chicago is an awesome game for golfers of any skill level. Before play begins, each player will establish their own goal or 'hurdle' by subtracting their handicap from 36 (so if you're a 10 handicap, your hurdle is 26 points; if you're an 18 handicap, your hurdle is 18 points.) All players kick in to the prize pot (say $5 each for a total pool of 20 bucks.) Play begins and points are awarded for the following:
Bogeys: 1 point
Pars: 2 points
Birdies: 4 points
Eagle: 8 points

Points are tallied throughout the round and the man who clears his hurdle first or by the most points wins the pot. Variations include splitting the pot amongst all golfers who manage to clear their hurdle or making side bets on whether or not 1 player will clear their hurdle (‘I bet you 5 bucks Jon won't clear his hurdle today.') Double Bogeys (or worse) can be assigned a negative number of points as well.

2. Pick-up Sticks (Bag Raid)

Pick-up Sticks or Bag Raid is a standard match-play competition with a little twist. Twosomes or foursomes looking to break up the monotony of their usual games. When a golfer or team wins a hole, they "remove" a club from the opponent or opponents' bags. That means the other team can't use that club for the rest of the round. This continues until the match is decided. A variation of this game allows a team to reinstall clubs to their set if someone on the team makes net birdie or better to win a hole. Things can get really creative and shot making becomes a bigger part of the round when certain clubs are eliminated. Obviously, the putter should be first to go.

3. Closeout

For golfers who like to keep it simple, closeout is a great game. The problem with the popular gambling game called a "Nassau" is that winning the 18-hole match is often undervalued. If the front, back and 18 are equal in the amount wagered, that means a golfer or team could conceivably win the first 10 holes, and halve all but two of the remaining and win only a third of the amount wagered. Hardly fair. With a closeout, the 18-hole match is worth a set amount and once it's decided, a second match on the remaining holes begins for half the original amount. It reduces the odds of a lackluster payout for really solid play. But the real beauty of this game is that it's simple to keep track of the match.

4. Vegas (also known as Atlantic City or Russian Roulette)

As the names suggest, this is a game where your fortunes can turn fast, and depending on the stakes, drastically. First off, you need a foursome since it pits 2-man teams against each other. At the end of each hole a team's score is derived by making the lower denomination of the two scores the first digit of your team's total score. For instance, if you card a "five" and your partner gets an "eight," your team's score is a 58. However, if someone birdies (or eagles) a hole, the other team must reverse the numbers in their score. In the above scenario, your team would be tagged with an 85 rather than a 58 because one of your opponents scored a birdie. The team with the lowest score at the end of the round wins the agreed upon wager. Yes you may need to use a calculator!!

You can increase the stakes by playing $1 (or more) per point. In this variation, the winning team gets the differential between the two scores at the end of the round. Cha-ching!

5. Bisque

Instead of the scorecard mandating where handicap strokes are given, Bisque is a game where a player can use his or her handicap strokes on any hole until they run out. A maximum of two strokes can be used on any one hole. The only catch is that the handicap stroke (or two) has to be declared before the tee shot on that hole. The player with the low-net score wins the pot. This game is great because, if there are holes on your course where you routinely struggle, you can use your strokes on those holes to avoid a big score.

The most important thing to remember when choosing a game is that it should be simple, fun and within your means!

Yours in golf,

Cabe Jones
Head Golf Professional