Let's Gamble! My Five Favorite Formats

Most of my golfing life has been stroke play, and to be honest it can get lonely sometimes. If you can get a good foursome together it's fun to get a little wager going, and try out a few different formats. I wanted to make a list of my favorite golf gambling games to give you some ideas.

The best part about all of these golf gambling games is that it keeps you interested in the whole round, even if you have a bad stretch of holes. I know some golfers get caught up with gambling, but I like to keep the stakes at around $20-30 at most. Just enough to want to win, but not enough to have anyone yelling and screaming when the match is over!

Here are my favorite formats, and some of the rules for those of you who have never played them


Most of you know this one. It is by far the most popular golf gambling games, and my own personal favorite. Here are the rules:

There are three separate bets in a Nassau. There is a match for the front 9, back 9, and overall 18 holes. Most people will wager the same dollar amount on each leg, or sometimes assign a larger amount to the 18-hole match. It's a great game that keeps both teams interested throughout the whole round because of the various legs.

Variations: The variation I like to play is with "dots". Each team receives a dot for a birdie, closest to the pin on a par 3, or a bunker save. You assign a dollar amount for each dot, and at the end of the round the team with more dots gets paid out on the difference. If my team had 17 dots, and the opponent had 9 dots we would win $8 if we had agreed that they were worth $1/ea.

Some people like to play with presses, which is a double or nothing bet if you are down by over 2 holes or more. They can be optional or automatic. Personally I don't like to play with presses because you can win the actual match, but end up losing money.


This is probably the other most popular game, and the rules are pretty straightforward. Each hole is assigned a dollar amount, or a skin. For example if you were playing $2 skins the most you could lose is $36. The kicker here are the carry overs. If you end up tying on any holes the skins carry over. So you could be left with a hole that is worth $10 if you had tied the previous 4 holes…that's where things get interesting!

You can also add kicker skins for birdies, sand saves, and closest to the pin.


This is one of the golf gambling games that isn't for the faint of heart. Things can get real ugly in Vegas (don't we know it).

In Vegas the scores of each player on a team are paired, and then matched up against the other team. For example, if I scored a 4 and my partner scores a 6 we would have a 46. If the other team had a 5 and a 6, they would score a 56. Therefore, we would win 10 points on that hole.

Some people will play $1 for each point, so this can end up being a game for really heavy gamblers. You can assign a nickel, dime, or quarter for each point to make it more reasonable. Some people also cap the losses at 10 points for each hole.


Wolf is fun because you are constantly changing playing partners, and you're out for yourself overall.

Before the match starts you establish a playing order. This will rotate each hole, with the next player in order having honors. On each hole the player teeing off last is the "wolf". The wolves can either choose to go at it themselves, and take on all 3 golfers, or choose a partner for the hole.

If you choose a partner is must be immediately after their tee shot. For example, if the second group member hits a great drive you have to choose right then, and can't wait for the 3rd player to hit their shot. You then play the hole as a best ball format, and the lowest score from each team determines who wins the hole.

If the wolf decides he doesn't like any of the tee shots he can elect to play the hole 1 vs 3. In that instance the points are doubled. At the end of the round you tally up each player's points to see who is winning what. Sometimes people will determine beforehand a pot that is won by first and second place. Or you could pay out based on a dollar amount assigned to points.

Sixes (Hollywood & Round Robin)

This is another format I like because you are changing teams within the round a few times.

There are three separate 6 hole matches in this format, and you are teaming up with a different partner on each leg. You can play any format you want on each match, but most people like to play a best ball match. Your goal is to win 2 out of 3 of the matches.

What are your favorite gambling games to play on the golf course? Leave your suggestions in the comments section!

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