Side games on the golf course have been around almost as long as the sport itself. Whether you’re playing skins versus a friend or an elaborate mix of games across every hole, most golfers like to liven things up. While most of us have a standard set of side games we live by it’s always interesting to mix things up and feel the pressure in brand new ways. Today we will look at some of the more exotic games to play at your next golf outing.
One of my personal favorite ways to spice up the action is to bring a deck of cards. Unapologetically stolen from a friend’s bowling league, it makes damage control and scoring much more critical. Each par gets you a random draw from the deck, birdies are two cards, double bogeys you lose a card, and at the end of each nine the best five-card poker hand wins. Rules can be easily adjusted for higher and lower handicaps and it’s a great way to bring drama to the round.
Possibly the most passive-aggressive side game out there, you’ll need more than one playing partner to play this game. The “wolf” designation rotates between players but is always last off the tee. Following that shot, they choose to play the hole alone or to team up with another player. Scoring varies basically from course to course but the most common are as follows.
- Wolf plays alone and wins – 4 points for wolf
- Wolf plays alone and loses – 1 point to all but the wolf
- Wolf picks a partner and wins – 2 points to wolf and partner
- Wolf picks a partner and loses – 3 points to players not picked
Bingo Bango Bongo
By far the most popular side game, bingo bango bongo is easy for all to play and gives players of all skill levels a chance to win points. Bingo represents the first person to hit the green in the group and earns a point. Bango is the beginner’s best chance at a point and is earned by the player closest to the pin after all players are on the green regardless of stroke count. Bongo is the final point earned by the first player in the cup.
Another wildly popular side game, Las Vegas requires a group of four players split into two teams. Players bring their two scores together, with the lowest in front, to create a point total. A three and a five by one team would score a 35. Points are what pay so this game is one of the most dramatic and cutthroat side games out there today. Try to set teams as evenly as possible and consider a point handicap if things aren’t evenly matched.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the golf side game. Most players are familiar with skins, nassau, and best-ball formats but fewer players venture into the more exotic games. Not only are they a blast to try out, but they also provide dramatic and chaotic moments that a standard round cant easily create. Next time you head out with your group, grab a deck of cards, and give one of these games a try. You’ll be shocked that golf can be even more fun with a little creativity.
About the Author: Brian Neufeld
Brian Neufeld’s background includes more than 15 years of experience in golf course management, specializing in agronomy. Brian uses his knowledge of the game and best practices in turf sustention to create informative pieces for GolfTourney.com’s readers.