9 best golf money games you can play

Pretty safe to say you’re never going to be playing for the same kind of money Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson did at The Match, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play for some cash to “make things a little more interesting” in a round with your buddies. Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Gambling and golf are two loves for many golfers. Golf money games, or side betting, is very common during a friendly round among friends. How can you be a little more invested in your round?

Here’s our list of the nine best money games for you to consider the next time you hit the course with your favorite foursome. 

1. Nassau

This is one of the best and most popular games you can try. A foursome can be played for individual and team matches.

How it works:  Nassau breaks an 18-hole match into three matches: one for the front, one for the back and one for the overall score. The foursome will determine an amount of money before the match begins. For example, a $10 Nassau would mean a total of $30 per player is at stake in the match (which means $10 for the front, $10 for the back, $10 for the overall match). 

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2. Wolf

Another classic golf betting game, in this game one player in the foursome for each hole is named the Wolf. The Wolf then chooses to play the hole 1 vs. 3, or to partner up and play it 2 vs. 2.

How it works: On each hole, the “Wolf” will tee off first. They then will watch the rest of the foursome hit their drives. After each of the drives, the Wolf has to decide: Do I want that golfer as my partner on this hole? If the Wolf doesn’t like any of the drives from his group, he can then choose to play the hole solo — himself vs. the other three golfers. The side with the better ball wins the hole. ( Better ball: lowest score among each side/team). If the Wolf decides he likes one of the other golfer’s drives, he can then choose that golfer as his partner, but must choose right after that person hits his drive. If the Wolf chooses to partner for example, 2 vs. 2 hole, then the golfers on the losing side both pay $1 to each of the golfers on the winning side. (Decided to use $1 because it’s easy, Wolf winnings/losses can add up, so be wary of how high you set your bet!). If the Wolf plays the hole solo, then the Wolf will win $2 from each of the other three golfers on the other side, or if he loses, pays $2 to each of them.

3. Daytona

This is a foursome game with two-player teams.

How it works: All four players will hole out, then check their scores. If they score the same on the hole, they will combine those digits for their score. If each makes a 4, the score is 44 for the hole. If the score differs, par will be the guide for the round. If someone gets a par or better, note that the lowest number will go first. If bogey or worse is made on a hole, the higher score goes first (so a bogey and a double bogey on a par 4 would equal a total of 65). At the end of the round the lowest number wins. 

READ: 25 of the most significant pieces of advice you’ve ever received from a caddie

4. Bingo, Bango, Bongo

*Only play this game if you are going to play the exact order vs. “ready golf.”

How it Works: There will be a total of three points available for each hole. One for the first player who reaches the green (bingo), one for the player closest to the pin (bango) and one for the first player to hole out (bongo). This is a great game to try because the best score will not always win. This is a point-based game that can be played from two players and up. The goal is to get the most points during the round. At the end of the round you add up your points and the highest score wins. 

5. Banker

This is a great game for groups of three or four players. The beauty of this game is the number of holes doesn’t matter. The “banker” for each hole is the player that had the lowest score on the last hole played. This will make the first hole fun, as you can see who is feeling confident and who lets the bet get into their head. 

How it works: The minimum amount a hole is worth is set at the beginning of a round. The max amount will be set by the banker for that hole. The most common minimum amount is $5. A max bet is rarely over $100, but you never know based on who is feeling confident each round. Once the minimum and max bet is set, each player will face off against the banker. Basically, each player is putting themselves on the line based on if they are feeling confident in their game, or want to play it safe and take the minimum bet. 

READ: Caddies reveal their biggest on-course pet peeves | Unwritten rules of caddying

6. The Dot Game

This is a game of side bets, the specifics are up to the group and it can be played with any type of scoring where all the players are playing their own ball.

How it works: The group first has to determine on all the side bets to track. Each player that achieves a side bet, gets one point. When negative achievements are brought into the mix, a point will be subtracted. Positive achievements can include hole-in-one, birdie, long drive, closest to the pin, green in regulation, chip-in, up-and-down, or solid bunker shot. A group can make this list of side bets go on for days, so be sure to track carefully. 

7. Vegas

This is a golf betting game where two teams or two golfers are formed. Side scores are put together in order to form a double-digit number. NOT added together. Don’t worry, once you see an example it’ll be your favorite game on the list.

How it works: Remember that the two scores are NOT added together. They are put together or paired together. We are going to use Golfer A and Golfer B. If Golfer A scores 5 and B scores a 6 — that would be a 56 rather than 11. Fifty-six would be the score for Team 1 on the first hole. The smaller number goes first. Now the betting comes in — let’s say that the bet is placed at $1 per point — on Hole 1 if the team with a score of 4 and 5 are together for a 45, and Team B scores 5 and 6 for 56, the difference between the two is 11 points. The winning team just won $11. This is a game for financially well off golfers as the winnings, or losing add up fast. 

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8. Rabbit

This game can be played by three or four foursomes.

How it works: Fourballs have more options, but a three ball has a better chance of a hole being won outright, and this is the main driver of the game. The main point to this game: The rabbit is captured by the first player who wins the hole outright. This player will hold onto the rabbit until another player wins the hole. Also it is important to note that the person who walks off the ninth and 18th green win equal stakes of the money. In this version of rabbit, the rabbit is set free each hole and up for grabs. Betting can be placed on 9- or 18-hole rounds. You can also have a pot so the one holding the rabbit on the 18th holes takes the pot of cash. 

9.  6-6-6

This is a great game because you can play with everyone in your foursome as a team. It is best-ball between the two teams or two players. You will rotate partners every six holes. There are three different matches played within one 18-round. 

How it works: The player who has been on at least two winning sides over the course of the three, six-hole matches, is the winner.


  1. Surprised the 9 point game wasn’t mentioned. Played when you have 3 players. Play for dime, quarter, half-dollar or whatever makes you nervous. Each hole has 9 points. Winner awarded 5, second gets 3, loser 1. If there is a winner of a hole, he gets 5 & two tied get 2 each. All tie, 3 each. Check math after nine, 9×9=81. To handicap best to play off low ball. Low man after 9 can press, or double the value. Good fun.

      1. Love this game although we play with one more twist. If one player wins a hole by at least two strokes over both the other two players, that player gets all 9 points for the hole

    1. We also play that if you beat the field by 2 or more strokes (net) you get all 9 points. Further, any natural birdie doubles your point value, so if you birdie and win by 2 you’d get 18 pts a man. If you make birdie but don’t win by 2, your points would still double, so a 5,3,1, would become 10,3,1.

  2. I’m surprised that the game of “Homer” is not mentioned.
    A great game when you have only 3 players and each player with the same order (decided on the first tee) take turns having Homer as their partner. Homer is given a net par on each of the 18 holes. The winners on a hole get 1 point, all ties and losers get 0 points.
    The game can be played gross or net where everyone gets their GHIN handicap strokes as they fall.
    Gross or Net and order of getting Homer as your partner is decided on the first tee..
    At the end of 18 holes the highest point total is the winner

  3. How about the “strategy game”? This can be played with 2, 3 or 4 players. First, handicaps are applied to the card (either net of low ball or everyone’s gross). Everyone puts in an equal amount for the pot (say $20, or whatever). Now the objective of the game is to take your net total score for 11 of the 18 holes. Twist is, you have to decide if you want that hole score after finishing the hole but before teeing off at the next hole. Strategy will be applied when you are getting towards the end of the round and you know what scores your competitors have. If you are playing on a home course, you also know where you believe you can score.

    1. We added one more twist to this game. You have to use the 18th hole. Puts a little extra pressure on your strategy.

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