Dots or Garbage Golf Game

Three friends having fun in a golf course,Biltmore Golf Course,Coral Gables,Florida,USA
Glow Images, Inc/Getty Images

The golf game most commonly called Dots or Garbage is a popular game played by members of the same grouping. It is essentially a collection of side bets - the specifics of which are entirely up to the group - that can be played concurrently with just about any type of scoring format in which all members of the group are playing their own ball; or by sides in a 2-on-2 team format.

The format goes by multiple other names, too, including Junk, Trash and The Dot Game.

Garbage/Dots Side Bets

If you want to play Garbage/Dots within your group, the first thing you have to do is agree on all the side bets that you'll be tracking. Some examples of the positive achievements commonly included in Garbage are:

  • hole in one
  • eagle
  • birdie
  • long drives
  • closest to the pin
  • hitting fairways
  • greens in regulation (or "greenies")
  • chip-in (or "chippies")
  • up-and-down from a bunker (or "sandies")

And so on. Some groups like to include negative "achievements" that result in deducting points, others prefer to stick with only positive achievements and positive points. But if negatives are included, the most common are:

  • 3-putts
  • 4-putts
  • double-bogeys and worse
  • hitting into a bunker
  • hitting into the water


There are a seemingly endless variety of ways to play Dots/Garbage, and many groups add in double points, triple points and more for more elaborate bets (just to make something up, for example, making a birdie one hole after you hit a par-5 green in two might earn you triple points).

The variations are up to the members of the group.

So, like we said, to play Garbage/Dots you first must decide which achievements are going to be worth points, and how much each is worth.

One you've done that, go play a round of golf. Each golfer keeps track throughout the round of his positive and negative achievements/points.

At the end of the round, each golfer tallies up his points and then the group members tally up the differences and pay out the bets.

A couple things to keep in mind about Dots/Garbage/Junk/Trash: The more side bets (or achievements) you include, the more difficult the bookkeeping becomes. Also, the higher the point values you use, the bigger the wins and losses can be at the end of the round. Make sure if you are playing for money (each point worth X amount) that you play for affordable amounts.