7 Most Popular Golf Betting Games & How To Play Them

Golf Betting Games

Golf is a great game whether you’re playing solo or out with friends. But when you play the right golf betting games it makes it 10X more fun.

The great thing about golf is that you can play this sport in a ton of different formats and different gambling games. Whether you have 2, 3, 4 or even multiple groups of players, there are a lot of games to make it even more fun. Plus, thanks to the handicap system and apps, it’s easy to play with different skill level players. 

Keep reading to learn more about betting games in golf, other fun formats, and rules to have fun with each type of game. 

7 Golf Betting Games

So, what are some golf betting games to make the round more exciting? Check out our favorites below.

1. Skins

One of the best golf betting games is good old-fashioned skins. This is a great way to gamble with a group of friends (the more friends the better) and still play your own golf ball. 

Skins is simple – everyone pays a predetermined amount of money before the round begins. It might be $5 or it might be $100 or more (for context, most smaller amateur events I play in are $20/day with 50+ guys). 

Then, decide if you’re playing gross or net skins. Gross skins mean no handicapping is involved and it’s your “true” score on the hole. While net skins account for handicaps and make it easier to play with a bigger group of players.

So if you’re a 9 handicap, you get nine shots during the round on the nine most difficult holes. If you make a par on one of those holes, it’s a net birdie. 

Next, simply play your own golf ball with a traditional stroke play and complete each hole (no gimme putts). If you have the lowest score on a hole and no one else matches, you win a skin. Ties negate a skin.

At the end of the round see who won a skin by comparing hole by hole scores. If there are multiple skins, the payouts differ based on the total pot value. 

Here are two easy examples – let’s assume two groups of foursomes put in $20 each ($160 in the pot). 

  • Only one player makes a skin = $160
  • Two skins = $80/each

The more skins, the lower the payout. 

This is a great game to play with a big group and if you have a lot of different handicap golfers. It also incentivizes aggressive play and doesn’t hurt big numbers that are likely to happen from playing too aggressive.

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2. Hammer

Another fun way to gamble on the golf course is the “hammer” betting game. Like others on this list you can play 1 vs. 1 or make it a two on two event. 

Here’s how it works:

  • On each hole a designated amount is up for grabs – let’s say $5. 
  • During the hole you can “hammer” your opponent. The other player has the choice to deny the hammer and instantly lose the hole.
  • But if they accept the challenge, the sum of the hole doubles (in this example from $5 to $10).
  • To make this game even more interesting (and possibly expensive) the other team or player can hammer you back during the hole… doubling the new sum once again. In our example it’s now a $20 hole. 
  • This process continues until the hole is complete.

Hopefully you act like Thor that day on the golf course and bring your hammer or it can become quite expensive. This game works best with stroke play not match play.

Related: How Long Does 18 Holes Take

3. Nassau (Front-Back-Total)

This gambling game is simple and great to do with your golf cart partner (or anyone in the group). Start by determining how much you are willing to win/lose on the front nine, back nine, and total 18 hole score. A common variation is $5-$5-$5 or $5-$5-$10. 

Next, decide if you’re doing stroke play or match play during the round. Once the payouts and format is determined, play your own golf ball throughout the round. 

You can make this game more interesting by adding a “press.” This happens when a player is two down and starts a new bet. 

Here’s how it works…

  • Team A is down by two after five holes. They have the option to press which ends the front nine bet and starts a new bet. 
  • Additionally, some variations of Nassau include that teams or players must press when two down. 

4. Wolf (Lone Wolf)

Wolf is one of the most popular ways to gamble on the golf course. You can do this game with three, four or even five players (assuming the course allows fivesomes). Regardless of how many players, the tee off order rotates on every hole. 

For example’s sake, let’s say there are four players in the group. Player A hits on the first hole, player B on the second hole, player C on the third hole, and player D on the fourth hole. Player A hits, then watches the other players hit. 

At this point player A has a choice; go against the group (his score vs. their best ball score) or recruit a partner. So if player B hits a perfect drive, he can choose to pair up with that golfer vs. player C & D. The best ball team score wins the hole. 

Since 18 doesn’t divide equally with four players you can decide to give holes 17/18 to the lowest point guy and/or simply flip a tee on those holes as well. 

Each hole has a set amount – common examples are $5 or $10. The payouts change depending on if the person teeing off plays solo or teams up with another player. 

If a player goes solo and wins, they would win the predetermined amount. But if they team up with another player, then the losing team would owe each player the amount. This game works great for gross and net scores with 3–5 players. 

Golfers on Fairway

Lone Wolf 

There is a way to make this game even more interesting by going on a solo mission. Keeping up with our previous example, let’s say player A hits a great shot on a par 3 to a few feet. He has the option before anyone else has hit to become a “lone wolf.” 

When this happens, it’s his score vs. the team score (best ball) even though they haven’t hit yet. Payouts triple or more (depending on which rules you want to play) making the hole a lot more exciting. But also a lot more risky for the lone wolf. 

5. Daytona (also known as Vegas) 

If you’re like most golfers you probably think Daytona is just a race car event but it’s also a fun gambling game too. This is another two vs. two player game where you need to finish the hole and play stroke play. 

Here’s how it works…

  • Team one makes a 4 and 4 on the first hole – their score is a 44. While team two makes a 4 and 5 on the first hole for a 45. Team one is up by one point to start the match.
  • But things get more interesting with birdies. For example, let’s say the second hole is a par 3 – team one makes a 2 and a 3. While team two makes a 3 and 4. Instead of being 23 vs. 34 for the team score, team two reverses their score to 43. 
  • Birdies (or better) effectively flip the opponents score. If both teams make birdies the scores remain the same. 

As you can see on the scoring system, this game incentivizes birdies as there is a huge point swing. 

6. Umbrella (2 vs. 2 Game)

If you need a great gambling game for a foursome, you’ll love umbrella. On each hole there are six points up for grabs:

  • One point for birdie.
  • Two points for a low score.
  • Two points for low total score. 
  • One point for closest to the pin (must be on the green, not the fringe). 

If one team of two players is able to accomplish the feat of winning all six points on a hole, the score doubles to 12! This is a great game if you’re all near the same caliber of golfer and want to make each hole interesting. 

You can choose to bet this game with a predetermined amount before the round (ex. $20 or $50 per team). Or, you can pay on a point basis; so if one team wins by 20 points the losing team owes $20 (total or each player) to the winning team. 

7. Six-Six-Six

Six-six-six is a great betting game for four players. 

The premise is simple; each player plays six holes with everyone in the group. On the first hole, flip a tee to see who your partner is for the first six holes. On the 7th hole do the same and play with the other golfer on the final six holes.

Six-six-six gives you an opportunity to play with each player in a group. You can do different types of scoring too including best ball or total score. If you’re having an on day you might win with each guy and carry the team to win big. 

Type of Golf Games 

While there are tons of different ways to gamble on golf, don’t forget about different ways to play each round too. Stroke play can get a little repetitive at times so use these formats to have more fun on the golf course.


Compete in a two-man scramble the next time you have a good group of four players. A scramble allows each player to tee off, then select the best ball and play from there. This process repeats itself until the hole is complete.

You can also pair a two-man scramble with a game like six-six-six to have a fun format for the day. This is great if you have different skill level players and want to make it fun for everyone in the group. 

Match Play

Match play is completely different from stroke play. In match play, you can only win or lose the hole by one – even if you make a 3 and they make an 8. Plus, you can concede shots to players and concede a hole as well.

Match play is exciting and used in competitions like the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. Your strategy changes based on the other player as it’s you vs them only. 


Four ball is another name for a best ball format. If you have four players in the group each person plays their own ball and the best score for each team counts. 


Stableford is one of the best betting games as it replaces strokes for points. In a normal round of golf you want the lowest score possible, but in a Stableford, you want the most points possible. 

Each score to par has a certain number of points. For example:

  • Eagle = 5 points
  • Birdie = 3 points 
  • Par = 1 point
  • Bogey = 0 points
  • Double bogey or higher = +1 point

You can change scoring variations depending on the type of golfer or play net scores as well. This format encourages aggressive strategy off the tee and on approach shots too.

Wrapping Up 

As you can tell, there are tons of ways to bet while playing golf. 

Regardless of which game suits your group the best, make sure all rules are clear before the round begins. There’s nothing worse than arguing with friends at the 19th hole and potentially ruining the day on the links.

Plus, to make things easier, as scoring and points/payouts can get messy, make sure to download the right golf app. Different makes it easy to figure out net scores, skins, payouts with Wolf and more. This will make it easier to focus on golf and not the immersive scoring process during the round.

What’s your favorite golf betting game?

Let us know in the comments below.

Picture of Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is a full-time writer, author, creator of Wicked Smart Golf and +1 handicap amateur golfer. He left his corporate career in 2017 to pursue entrepreneurship and professional golf; since then, he’s competed in 160+ tournament days and went to Q-school in 2019.

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