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Golf Side Games: My Favorites

 For many parts of the Midwest, the golf season is still a month or so away before temperatures will be mild enough for hackers like myself to venture back out onto the fairways... and probably into the trees.  Admittedly, a golfer of my ilk will never be good enough to play on Tour (talk about understatements; I mean, you've all seen my swing, right?).  However, this doesn't mean that I can't play for big bucks each time I go out with my foursome!  Well... check that; we're really probably talking more like a few dollars here and there... but that's beside the point.  Side games are a great way to liven up the competitive spirit among your foursome and most require nothing more than a scorecard, a pencil, and a little bit of cash.  While most of us probably already have a favorite game to make things a "little more interesting", here are a couple of my favorites that you can try the next time you tee-it-up.  Read on to learn more.


Format: Individual game or Team

Suggested Players: 2, 3, 4+

The old Nassau game!  Certainly a staple for most golf clubs around the world due to its simplicity and adaptability (in terms of stakes).  A game of Nassau is made up of three matches: front nine holes, the back nine holes, and the 18-hole total.  To make things as simple as possible my foursome usually sticks to a match-play format.  Bets are made for each individual match per player.  In other words, a $5 Nassau would include three $5 bets, one for each of the three matches.  Make sense?  Easy stuff!

To make things a little more interesting (that's right; second time I've used the phrase today), players also have the option to "press" a bet.  This means that a bet is doubled for a particular match, but only if the "press-ee" accepts the offer.  There are other variations of this optional rule, and I would love to hear what you use on the course.

Wolf (or Pig)

Format: Individual or Team

Players: Four

Wolf, also commonly referred to as "Pig" with a few slight variations, is an interesting side game that begins by establishing an order of play on the first tee.  After establishing this order, players will rotate the order throughout the round: Player 1 tees-off first on Hole 1, then second on Hole 2, etc.  Whichever player tees-off first on a hole is the designated "Wolf".

When you are the Wolf, you have a few options:

1) Choose one of the other three players as a partner for the hole based on the results of their tee shots, or

2) Play the hole alone against the other three players.

After the Wolf tees off, he then watches Player 2's shot.  Depending on the result of that shot, he can either choose Player 2 as his partner or pass and wait for Player 3's shot.  If all of the Wolf's playing partners hit lousy shots, the Wolf has then has the option of taking Player 4's shot OR playing alone and against the other three players. 

Scoring is relatively easy and points are usually assigned a particular wager amount.  The winning team on a hole receives one point per player.  If the Wolf plays alone and wins, he gets 3 points; if he loses, the other three players get one point each.  Points are tallied throughout the round and "paid out" after the 18th hole.

What are some of your favorite side games?  Do you have any other variations that I should try this season?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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