8 Best Betting Golf Games: How They’re Played Explained

Golf figurines on coins

Sometimes a little friendly competition can make golf with your buddies a little more enjoyable. I mean it’s golf already, so it’s bound to be fun, but a few side bets or golf games can spice up the round. The best betting golf games will bring out your best game, provide a little intensity, and can balance out the strong and weak players to make for fairer competition.

The good news is, the game of golf already has a built-in mechanism to even out the play. Each individual already has a handicap which can be incorporated into some of the games.

Before you hit the course and decide which golf gambling game you want to play there are few guidelines you should follow to make the game as fair as possible. Nobody wants to get stuck with the high handicapper, and everyone wants to win the prizes, so by following a few simple guidelines from the start, everyone will feel like they have a fair shot.

Tips for Betting Golf Games

The best golf betting games will be fair and simple.

1) Always incorporate handicaps when you can – If you’re a 10 handicap and you’re playing against a 6 handicap you should get 4 strokes for the 18 holes round.

2) Lack of play doesn’t get you strokes – Just because someone says they haven’t been playing much lately, or haven’t played a certain course doesn’t give them extra leeway. Your handicap is your handicap and if you’re playing against someone who is trying to get extra strokes, expect to be separated from your money.

Most friends know how good the others are, regardless of how long ago they played. If you’re playing with someone who refuses to tell you their handicap, I would suggest keeping the stakes to a minimum. Nobody likes a sandbagger when it comes to playing for money or prizes.

3) Use handicaps when setting teams – This probably goes without saying but the lowest and highest handicappers should team-up. Sometimes if the golf game amongst each is about the same, the teams can be settled up differently. Whether it’s a rematch or the trash-talking has divided the teams, be sure to use handicaps when applicable. If everyone’s handicap is about right the competition should be about even.

4) Beware of outside players – Hopefully, you can get a foursome with your friends, but on occasion, it just doesn’t work out that way. You could get a single throwing into the group. If they’re game for a little golf betting, use caution. After the first hole, you’ll probably realize if you’ve made a mistake. Keep the bets low, and have fun.

Now that some ground rules have been set, here’s some simple, and fun golf gambling games you can play to intensify the round.

8 Best Golf Betting Games

Fun golf gambling games have established rules. Easy golf betting games include handicaps.


The game of Nassau is a kind of defunct golf betting game. If nobody is feeling optimistic about their game, or if a stranger is included, Nassau is just enough competition to keep it interesting without feeling uneasy.

How it’s played

Nassau is a best-ball match, which means it’s 2 vs 2. The winner is determined by the team with the best score on that hole. Add up the scores after each nine and determine the winner.

Nassau consist of three different bets. One for the front 9, one for the back 9, and one for the entire 18 holes.

If everyone is feeling shy a 2-2-4 is a good way to start. The first 9 is worth $2, the back 9 is worth $2 and the 18 hole match is worth $4. If you win all three you get $8. The stakes are low, but just enough to have a bit of competition.

If you’re amongst friends you can spice it up to 5-5-10. Same principle as 2-2-4, but with a bit more juice. The good thing about Nassau is, it’s simple, and you can play for as little or as much money as you want.


Skins is the game you see the big boys playing on tv, and similarly to Nassau, it’s an easy golf betting game to play. One of the good things about skins, is you don’t need a foursome to play. If your fourth calls in sick, and it’s just three of you, skins might be the go-to game.

How it’s played

Each hole is worth a skin, and the value of that skin is predetermined. Unless you’re on the tour, each skin is usually 1-2 bucks. Whoever wins a hole, wins a skin. If you tie, you press to the next hole. For example, if you both par the first hole, the 2nd hole is now worth 2 skins. If you tie again, the third hole is now worth 3 skins.

The fun aspect about skins, is the intensity increases win there’s a tie. Even a low handicapper can cash in with a good hole when the hole is worth multiple skins.


The game of wolf is a golf gambling game where your ego needs to be kept in check. If you got the guts but no game to back it, you could be buying drinks at the end of the round quickly.

How it’s played

One player is designated the wolf on each hole and a rotation is established. After everyone has hit their drive, the wolf can pick a partner or they can go “lone wolf.” If he picks a partner, the losing team pays the other team. If the golfer goes solo, then it’s 1 vs 3. If the lone wolf wins the hole each of the 3 pays him, but if he loses, he pays all three.

There are variations of this game, where the designated wolf either picks a partner before everyone drives, or decides to go lone wolf before everyone drives. The stakes can be changed accordingly.

I personally am not a big fan of this one. When my friends and I are out playing, we always forget who the wolf is, and how many points are at stake. It could be the adult beverages, or because everyone seems to play it differently. Establish the rules early and use a scorecard to track teams if need be.

Pink Lady

Pink lady is a comical way of humbling any “man” on the golf course.

How it’s played

A single pink ball is shared among all the players. A tee is spun on the first hole to see if plays with the pink ball first. From there, the player who scored the highest on the previous hole has to use the pink ball. The player in possession of the pink ball at the end of each nine holes loses.

Again a very simple game and honestly not my favorite. A bit misogynistic in my opinion, but still a popular game amongst the men.

Bingo, Bango, Bongo

The important aspect of this game is you can’t play ready golf. Furthest out has to hit. The other good thing about this is, the lowest score won’t always win. There is plenty of opportunities for a high handicapper to win points against a better player.

How it’s played

While playing away golf, the first person to hit their ball on the green (bingo) gets a point. After everyone is on the green, the person with the ball closest to the pin (bango) gets a point. And finally, the first person to hole out (bongo) gets a point. The fewest points at the end of the round or 9 holes pays out.

A strategy is imperative in getting the most points in this game. For instance, a long drive might look good, but you might be the last to land on the green. If a shorter drive allows you to hit first, and land on the green first, that’s a point in your pocket.

This game can be a great equalizer when the traditional way of scoring is removed. Great for higher handicappers when playing better players.


As the name implies, this one can get a little crazy. For those that like to take a bit more risk, vegas is a simple game that can add up quickly.

How it’s played

A 4 player game where the score is not the actual total of your scores, but the actual score you got. For example, on a par three, if each player on the first team got par then the score is 33, not 6. If one scored a birdie (on a par 3) and the other a bogey (Golf Terminology), then the score becomes 24. Again they total 6, but it’s the actual number of strokes.

The fewest number of strokes is always the first number. The only exception is a double-digit score. For example, a 5 and 10 is 105, not 510. As you can imagine the points can add up fast, so gamble wisely.


The game of rabbit is the non-sexist game of pink lady, just flipped upside down a bit.

How it’s played

With rabbit, the person who scores the lowest on the first hole becomes the rabbit. They remain the rabbit until another player beats them on any subsequent hole. The goal is to be the rabbit on the 9th or 18th hole and collect your prize.

The good thing about this is, even if you lose most or virtually all of the previous holes, as long as you’re the rabbit by the end, you win. It’s a simple and straight-forward game, but obviously not for everyone.

5-3-1 or

The final game to make the list is actually a 3 player golf betting game. This one is great when you have a fourth that is a stranger that you don’t really want to play with, or when your 4th bags out at the last second.

How it’s played

A total of 9 points is up for grabs on this one. If a player wins outright, they get 5 points. Second place gets 3 points and the highest score gets 1 point. If there is a tie for second they each get 2 points with the winner still getting 5 points. If there is a 3-way tie, each player gets 3 points.

The player with the lowest score at the end pays out. Some players that like to really to boost their ego, will include a twist, that allows a player to get all nine points if they win by 2+ strokes.

Wrapping up best gambling golf games

When there’s money at stake, the most important thing you can do is establish clear rules so that everyone knows how to win and what’s at stake. The intent with golf betting games is to spice it up a bit, but if rules are vague or instructions are unclear, it can ruin the fun and the term “sore loser” can really come into play.

The above-mentioned games just scratch the surface of golf betting games. There are all sorts of variations and twists that can be incorporated. Some of the games allow even the highest of handicappers to participate or even win, so everyone has a shot.

Let me know which game you and your buddies play!

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