Golf Tournament Formats, Side Games and Golf Bets

Definitions of Tourney Formats and Betting Games

Posing for the pre-tournament group photo
Posing for the first tee group photo - it's a tradition at recreational tournaments, charity tournaments and corporate outings. These three guys got to pose with Chi Chi Rodriguez (second from right). Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

Golfers love our games. When we say games, we mean different ways of playing both competitions and wagers - golf tournament formats, competitions played within a group of golfers, side games and side bets (or "betting games").

There are as many different ways to wager on golf as one group of golfers has imagination; and many, many different ways of playing golf tournaments. So let's go over the most common (and throw in some obscure ones, too).

Explanations of Golf Formats and Wagers

In this section we list the names of dozens of different tournament formats and side games. Each of these games has its own page where we go a little more in-depth into the explanation. So click on the name of the format or bet to read about it:

 

1-Man Captain's Choice
1-2-3 Best Ball
2-Man No Scotch
2-Man Scramble
2-Person Best Ball
4BBB
4-Man Cha Cha Cha
40 Balls
6-Point Game
Alternate Shot
Am-Am
Ambrose Competition
Arizona Shuffle
Best Ball
Better Ball
Bingo Bango Bongo
Bisque
Bisque Par
Bisque Stroke
Blind Bogey
Bowmaker
Bramble
Calcutta
Callaway System
Canadian Foursomes
Captain's Choice
Chapman System
Chicago
Defender
Devil Ball
Dots (or Dot Game)
Eclectic
English
Fairways to Heaven
Fishies
Flags (Flag Competition)
Florida Scramble
Forty Balls
Four Ball
Fourball Alliance
Foursomes
Garbage
Greensomes
Hammer (or Hammers)
Hate 'Em
Hole-in-One Contest
Honors
Irish Four Ball
Junk
Ladder Tournament
Las Vegas
Las Vegas Scramble
Low Ball-High Ball
Miami Scramble
Modified Pinehurst
Modified Stableford
Money Ball
Mulligans
Murphy
Nassau
Nasties
Nicklauses
Nine Points (or Nines)
One Club
One Person Captain's Choice
Par Is Your Partner
Peoria System
Pinehurst
Pink Lady
Powerball
PowerPlay Golf
Press (Pressing the Bet)
Proxy (Proxy Contest)
Putt for Dough
Quota tournament
Rabbit
Red, White and Blue
Reverse Scramble
Round Robin
Sandie
Scotch Foursomes
Scramble
Shamble
Skins Game
Shoot Out
Snake
Splashies
Split Sixes
Stableford
Step Aside
String It Out
Swat Tournament
System 36
Texas Scramble
Three Ball
Three Club Monte
Three-Putt Poker
Tombstone
Trash
Uglies
Umbrella (or Umbrella Game)
Whack and Hack
Wolf
Yellow Ball

 

And Many More Formats, Games and Bets ...

We don't have separate pages for the following games, but we can run down the basics of many, many more formats. So scroll through to find a game you like (or for which you need an explanation).

2-2-2 - Another name for a $2 Nassau.

32 ("Three Two") or Thirty-Two
A side game that is essentially a challenge from one golfer to another to avoide a three-putt.

The golfer who issues the challenge is giving 3-to-2 odds that the challenged golfer can't get his ball into the hole in fewer than three putts.

The challenged golfer usually has the option to decline the but, but some groups play it as automatic when the challenge is issued. If the golfer who issues the challenge wins the bet (meaning the challenged golfer 3-putts or worse), he wins two units of the bet. If the challenged golfer gets it in the hole in two putts or fewer, he wins three units of the bet.

3 in 1 (Three in One)
A format for a group of four golfers playing 2-vs.-2, 3 in 1 refers to the fact that three different formats are played over the 18 holes of the bet. The format changes every six holes, for example:

  • Holes 1-6, better ball
  • Holes 7-12, alternate shot
  • Holes 13-18, 2-man scramble

Make the formats anything you want. Three-in-one is typically played as a single, 18-hole bet, but you can split it up into three different 6-hole bets (each new format is a new bet) if you prefer.

3 Little Pigs - See below (under Three Blind Mice)

4-Point Game
Format for a group of four golfers, playing two per side. Each golfer plays his or her own ball throughout. On each hole, four points are at stake:

  • Two points for the lower of each side's low scores;
  • One point for the lower of each side's high scores;
  • One point for the low team total.

Ties award no points, and winning the low individual score with a birdie results in double points (4 instead of 2).

'Acey Ducey' or 'Aces and Deuces'
Acey Ducey, also called Aces and Deuces, is a betting game best for groups of four golfers. On each hole, the low score (the "ace") wins an agreed upon amount from the other three players, and the high score (the "duece") loses an agreed upon amount to the other three players. Our Most Popular Betting Games top-10 list includes an example using dollar amounts, so check that out for more.

Air Press
An "air press" is a bet that Golfer A calls against Golfer B when Golfer B's drive is still in the air and Golfer A has not yet played his or her own drive.

When Golfer A calls an air press is such circumstances, A is betting that s/he will post a better score on the hole than B. Groups that play air presses typically make them automatic (when one is called, it can't be declined). Re-presses are allowed, however, so when A hits his or her own drive, B can re-repress while A's ball is still airborne, doubling the bet.

American Foursomes - See Chapman System

Appearances
A side bet more commonly called Honors. After order of play is determined randomly on the first tee, the golfer who wins the honor of playing first on each successive tee wins the Appearances bet. The bet can have a monetary value or point value. Appearances is sometimes included in all-inclusive games such as Dots/Garbage.

Arnies
Named after Arnold Palmer, it's a side bet that goes to any golfer who makes par on a hole without ever being in the fairway. Often included in catch-all games like Garbage/Dots.

Auto Win
Played by any group (two, three or four golfers), an Auto Win bet is automatically won (hence the name) by any golfer doing one of these three things on a hole:

  • Chip-in from off the green (fringes don't count);
  • Hole-out from a sand bunker;
  • Stick an approach shot inside the flagstick from 150 yards out or more, or on any par-3 hole.

Most groups award only one "Auto Win" per hole, so if more than one of these things happens, the golfer accomplishing one first on the hole gets it.

Barkies (or Woodies)
The bark (or wood) in question belongs to trees. A "barkie" ("woody") is a bet that is won by a golfer who makes par on a hole after hitting a tree. A "double barkie" doubles the bet and is achieved by making par after hitting two trees on a hole. Hitting leaves doesn't count; your ball must contact solid wood.

The Bear
Betting game for groups of golfers (three or four works best) where the object is to win a hole (with the low score of the group) and to hold that position after the 9th and 18th holes. The first golfer who wins a hole "captures the bear," and holds it until a different golfer captures it.

Each time the bear changes owners, the original bet doubles. The golfer who holds the bear after No. 9 wins the pot. The bear is set free, and the game starts over on No. 10. The holder of the bear on No. 18 wins the next pot.

Beat the Worst (or "On the Spot")
A game for groups of three or four golfers. Golfers rotate being "on the spot," one golfer per hole. That golfer's job is to beat the worst score among the other golfers in the group on that hole. If Golfer A is on the spot and makes 5, while the other golfers in the group score 4, 4 and 6, Golfer A wins the bet.

'Bag Raid' or 'Pick Up Sticks'
The game that goes by the names Bag Raid or Pick Up Sticks is a match play game between two golfers. Player A and Player B tee off and play match play. And each time one wins a hole, his opponent gets to remove a club from the winner's bag:

  • Every time you win a hole, your opponent raids your bad and selects a club to remove from play.
  • Every time you lose a hole, you reach into your opponent's bag and take one of his clubs out of play.

To reiterate: The loser of a hole gets to remove a club from the winner's bag. In theory, that helps level the playing field over the course of the round. Bag Raid can be played with all clubs vulnerable to removal, or you and your opponent can agree before teeing off to exempt the putter.

Best At Something
This is a points-based betting game that can be played alongside any other type of match in which golfers are playing their own balls throughout. Points are awarded or subtracted for different things throughout the round, most commonly in this fashion:

  • Fairway hit, +1 point
  • Green in regulation, +1
  • 1-putt green, +1
  • 3 putts or more on a green, -1 point
  • Hitting into a hazard, -1
  • Lost ball, -1
  • Out of bounds, -1

Tally points at the end and high points wins the agreed-upon bet.

Best Nines - Another name for a Nassau.

Bingle Bangle Bongle - See Bingo Bango Bongo

Blind Nine
Sometimes called Blind Hole, Blind Nine is a scramble tournament in which only nine of the 18 holes count in the team's final score. The catch is that the teams don't know which nine holes count until after the round is completed. The tournament organizers usually wait until all teams have teed off before randomly selecting the nine holes whose scores will be used.

Bridge (or 'Name That Score')
In Bridge, a set amount of points or money applies to each hole. This amount is agreed upon before the round. When stepping up to a tee box, one team makes a "bid" on the number of strokes (net or gross - decide beforehand, obviously) they think it will take them to play the hole. (The format is usually played 2-vs.-2, but 1-vs.-1 also works.)

Say you're at a tough par-4. You and your partner bid 11. You are offering a bet (of the set amount) to the other team that your side can play the hole in no more than 11 strokes.

The other side has three options:

  • Take the bet;
  • take the bet and double it;
  • or bid lower than 11.

If the other side is confident it can beat 11 strokes, it will bid 10. Then it's back to your team: Take the bet, take the bet and double it, or bid 9 strokes.

If one team takes the bet and doubles it, then the other team has the option of doubling back (meaning that if you're playing for money, carefully consider how much you're playing for because it can add up quickly).

Which team opens the bidding on the first hole is determined randomly. On each ensuing hole, the team that lost the previous hole opens the bidding.

Chippies
Chip-in from off the green and you win the chippie - either the monetary value of the bet, or the point value if (as is often the case) chippies are being played as part of Dots/Garbage-type games.

C.O.D.
Another name for a Round Robin (a k a Sixes or Hollywood) format. The initials "C.O.D." derive from this formulation for rotating partners:

  • C (Cart): On holes 1-6, you partner with the golfer with whom you are sharing the cart.
  • O (Opposites): On holes 7-12, the driver of one cart partners the passenger in the other, and vice-versa.
  • D (Drivers): On holes 13-18, the drivers of the two carts partner one another, as do the passengers in each cart.

Choker
A choker tournament is one using 3- or 4-person teams in which one team member goes it alone on each hole, with his or her score required to count as half the team score for that hole. That puts a lot of pressure on that player to perform - and also gives him the chance to choke. Hence, the name of the format.

Let's say our tournament is a 4-man Choker. The players are A, B, C and D. On the first hole, Player A is the choker - he plays alone. The other three - B, C and D - play as a team. At the conclusion of the hole, Player A's solo score and B-C-D's score are added together to create the team score.

The three members on each hole who are playing the team ball might be playing any number of formats; they might each play their own ball and count the one low score; they might be playing a scramble. If it's a 3-man Choker, then the two players teaming on each hole might play alternate shot. There are options, in other words.

Perhaps the most common variety of Choker is this: All team members tee off on each hole. The best drive is selected, and the golfer who hit it becomes the choker. He completes the hole solo. The other team members play a scramble into the hole, with their scramble score combining with the choker's score.

Criers and Whiners (also called Replay, No Alibis, Play It Again Sam or Wipe Out)
This game of many names takes a golfer's handicap and converts them into do-overs, or mulligans. Have a course handicap of 14? You get 14 mulligans to use during the round. The game can be played with full handicaps, as just cited, but it is most common to use only three-fourths or two-thirds of handicaps. That forces the player to be judicious in using his replay strokes. Two other conditions usually apply: The first tee shot of the day may not be replayed, and no shot can be replayed twice.

Criss Cross
This can be a tournament format or a betting game among friends. In Cross Cross, the front nine and back nine holes are paired up - No. 1 and No. 10 form a pair, No. 2 and No. 11, No. 3 and No. 12, and so on, up to No. 9 and No. 18.

Following the round, compare the scores you recorded on No. 1 and No. 10 and circle the lower of the two. Compare No. 2 and No. 11 and circle the lower of the two, and so on through No. 9 and No. 18. Then add up the 9 holes you've circled. That's your Criss Cross score.

As a tournament, Criss Cross is usually played in flights using gross scores; handicaps can be used to determine flights.

Daytona
Daytona is a variation on the Las Vegas betting game: A 2-vs.-2 contest in which the partners' scores are paired to form one number. In Las Vegas, they are paired with the low number going first. Player A makes 5, Player B makes 6, that combines to form 56. In Daytona, which number goes first depends on whether either player made par or better. If one of the partners makes par or better, you combine the scores to form the lowest number. But if both golfers on a side make bogey or worse, their scores are combined to form the highest number. If, on a par-4, the partners make a 5 and 7, that becomes not 57 but 75. See Las Vegas for more about the basic structure.

Derby - Another name for Shoot Out.

Disaster (or Trouble)
The format the goes by the names Disaster or Trouble is a points game in which the winner at the end of the round is the player (or team) that has collected the fewest number of points. That's because points are "awarded" for bad shots. Hit a ball out of bounds, for example, and that's a point.

Your group can come up with its own list point-earners and value for each. But one common point system is this:

  • Water ball - 1 point
  • Out of bounds - 1 point
  • In a bunker - 1 point
  • Failing to get ball out of bunker - 1 point
  • 3-putt - 1 point
  • 4-putt - 3 points
  • Hitting from one bunker into another - 2 points
  • Whiff - 4 points

Eliminator
Tournament format for 4-person teams, or a betting game for several groups of four. Also known as In the Bucket, is a best-ball format with a twist: As a player's score is used for the team score, he is "eliminated" from counting as the team score on ensuing holes, until only one player is left whose score is eligible to be used (then the process starts over).

Example: Players A, B, C and D tee off on Hole 1. Player A is the low-ball on the first hole. All players move on to Hole 2, but Player A's score can't be used; Players B, C and D are eligible. On the second hole, Player B is the low-ball. All players move on to Hole 3, but the scores of A and B are now ineligible; only C and D have a chance to provide the team score.

On No. 3, Player C is the low score. And that leaves Player D as the lone survivor - his or her score must be used on the fourth hole as the team score. On Hole 5, the rotation starts over.

Fairways & Greens (or F&G's)
This is a betting game best for groups of golfers with similar handicaps. The object is, of course, to hit fairways and greens. The catch is that you have to be the only player in your group to hit the fairway (off the tee) to win the bet, or the only player in your group to hit the green (in regulation) to win the bet.

Determine before the round the value of each fairway and each green. Each hole (excluding par-3s) has two bets - one for the fairway and one for the green. If two or more players find the fairway, or two or more players are on the green in regulation, then that bet carries over to the following hole (ala skins).

Fairway & Greens can also be played for points. Each golfer in a group tracks his points earned through the round. At the end of the round, high points wins an overall bet (the amount of which is set before the round).

Favorite Holes
Before the round, each golfer in your groups ponies up the agreed-upon amount of money for the Favorite Holes pot. Next, each golfer circles three holes on his or her scorecard - her favorite holes, the ones where she typically scores great. At the end of the round, each golfers tallies up his or her total on those three favorite holes, and low score wins the pot.

Fish
A side game for a group of golfers that includes bets on three separate achievements relating to birdies:

  • The golfer who makes the first birdie in the round wins one bet;
  • The golfer who makes the longest birdie putt during the round wins a bet;
  • And the golfer who makes the most birdies during the round wins a third bet.

Just remember: first-longest-most.

Five of Clubs
Tournament format in which each golfer has to choose only five of his or her clubs to use during the tournament. Variations in the format revolve around how the putter is treated. Sometimes the putter doesn't count as one of your five clubs; however, in most cases when Five of Clubs is played, the putter does count as one of your five.

Fort Lauderdale
While there may be some regional variations in the specifics, when a tournament is using the Fort Lauderdale name it is usually just a typical scramble format. In other words, Fort Lauderdale is usually just a synonym for scramble.

Greenies
A "greenie" is a side bet that automatically pays off for any golfer who records a green in regulation. Greenies are commonly included in the game known as Garbage or Dots. A group using greenies only has to agree before the round starts that a) greenies are in effect; and b) how much - in monetary value or in points - each greenie is worth. The group then tees off, and every time during the round a greenie is recorded by a golfer, the golfer marks it down. At the end of the round, golfers compare how many greenies each recorded, tally up the points or money, and pay out the differences.

Gruesomes (or Yellowsomes)
Gruesomes is a 2-person team game that is more common as a betting game but is also sometimes used as a golf tournament format.

In Gruesomes, both members of Team A hit drives. Then the members of the opposing side (Team B) select which drive Team A has to play. When Team B's golfers tee off, Team A selects which drive they have to play. Needless to say, when you're choosing which of two drives your opponents have to play, you're going to make them play the worse - or most gruesome - of the two drives.

Following selection of the tee balls, the teams play out the hole in alternate shot fashion, except that the player who hit the "gruesome" tee ball also plays the second shot for his or her side.

Hog
Hog is very similar to Defender and Wolf. On each hole, one player in a group of four golfers is designated as the Hog, and the order rotates through the round (A on No. 1, B on No. 2, C on No. 3, D on No. 4, then back to A and so on).

In Hog, all members of the group tee off, then the "Hog" has two options: "hog" the hole by playing against the other three players; or pick one of the other three players as a partner for the hole, making it 2-on-2. The one low ball wins the hole.

  • If the "Hog" plays 1-vs.-3 and wins the hole, he get 3 points;
  • if he loses the hole, the other three golfers get 1 point each.
  • If the "Hog" chooses a partner and wins, both players get 1 point; if they lose, the other two players get 1 point each.

Hogies (or Hogans)
A side bet played within a group of golfers during a round. To win a Hogie, a golfer must:

  • hit the fairway with his drive;
  • hit the green with his approach shot;
  • and then 2-putt for par on a hole.

Any golfer who achieves these three things on the same hole wins a Hogie, and the agreed-upon value (in points or in dollars) of the bet. Hogies can't be won on par-3 holes (no fairway). Most groups (but not all) also count birdies and eagles so long as the first two criteria are met. Yes, it's named after Ben Hogan.

Hollywood - See Round Robin.

Honey Pot
Just a slang term for a golf tournament's bonus payout or prize pool. For example, if golfers chip-in $5 each, the total amount collected is the "honey pot" and is used to pay out at the end. Contributing to a honey pot is usually optional; only those that pay in are eligible to win anything at the end.

Honest John
Before the round starts, members of your group each put an agreed-upon dollar amount into the pot. Each player predicts the score they will shoot for the round, and writes it down. At the end of the round, they compare their actual score to their predicted score. Who came closest to shooting his or her predicted score? The golfer who did wins the Honest John pot.

Horse Race - See Shoot Out.

In the Bucket
Another name for Eliminator. It's a best-ball tournament in which every fourth hole one golfer is "in the bucket" - his or her score must count as the team score on that hole. That's because on each of the three preceding holes, the player whose low-ball score counted as the team score is "eliminated" (he still plays, but his score can't be used). After the fourth hole, the rotation starts over again with all players eligible.

Jack and Jill
When a tournament is called a "Jack and Jill," it means that it is a team event in which men and women are paired together to form the teams.

Joker's Wild
A tournament format for 4-person teams that involves the use of suited playing cards. Start by drawing cards so that each team member is designated by a different playing suit (heart, diamond, spade, club). What next?

  • Version 1: Once on the green, golfers find a playing card in the bottom of the cup. The suit of that card determines which team member's score counts on that hole. Is it a heart? Then the golfer who is the heart must provide the team score on that hole.
  • Version 2: All golfers complete a hole and then, on the next tee, see the playing card that tells then which suit applied on the previous hole.

A joker means that the lowest score among the team members is used.  Some tournament organizers will use two suits per hole, combining the scores of two team members.

Last Man Standing - Another name for Flags.

Lone Ranger - Another name for the games variously called Devil Ball, Money Ball, Yellow Ball and similar.

Lone Wolf - See Wolf.

Long and Short
Format for 2-person teams. The name explains the game: One member of the team plays the long shots (drives and approaches), while the other member of the team plays the short shots (pitches, chips and putts).

Long and Short can be played as team vs. team match play, or as team vs. field stroke play.

In order to avoid potential disagreements between teams over which player should play certain shots, it's advisable for the Long and Short tournament organizers to set a specific yardage that delineates the "long" and "short."

Longest Yard
Betting game for groups of two, three or four golfers in which the yardage of a hole determines how many points that hole is worth. If you have the low score on a hole that is, for example, 380 yards long, then you win 380 points. Win a 125-yard hole, and you get 125 points. No points are awards on holes without an outright winner. Set the point value carefully, because their might be 7,000 points total at stake, depending on yardages.

Low Putts
Can be a tournament format or a side game.

  • Low Putts tournament: In a Low Putts tournament, you throw out all your other strokes and only count putts. And the golfer or team with the fewest putts is the Low Putts winner.
  • Low Putts side game: Before the round, agree on the value of the bet (each member of your group puts in an equal amount), and after the round count putts. The golfer with the Low Putts wins the pot.

Luck of the Draw
Betting game for a group of golf buddies that combines golf and poker. Start with a full deck of playing cards per participating foursome, and with each participating golfer ponying up his or her share of the pot.

Then, throughout the round, cards are dealt out depending on each golfer's score on each hole, in this fashion:

  • If you make a par, you get one card.
  • If you make a birdie, you get two cards.
  • If you make an eagle, you get three card.

At the end of 18 holes, the golfer who can make the best 5-card poker hand wins the pot.

Mutt and Jeff
Tournament format or a side bet in which the focus is on par-3 holes and par-5 holes only. The round of golf is completed, then the total net score for each player or each group on the par-3 and par-5 holes is recorded. The low net on those long and short holes is the winner.

No Putts (or Everything But Putts)
Are you great tee-to-green but a lousy putter? Talk your opponents into a No Putts bet. Keep track of putts throughout the round. At the end of the round, throw out all the putts. How many strokes are left? That's your No Putts score.

N.O.S.E. Tournament
Golfers count their scores only on holes that begin with those letters - N, O, S, E. That means holes one, six, seven, eight, nine, eleven, sixteen, seventeen and eighteen. (You play the full course, but only count scores on those holes for your NOSE score.)

As a tiebreaker, low putts (on the N.O.S.E. holes only) is commonly used.

Oozles and Foozles
Oozles are good, foozles are bad, in this bet played on par-3 holes.

  • Version 1: Closest to the pin on a par-3 wins the oozle (worth one betting unit) if he holes out in two or fewer putts. But he gets the foozle - the loss of one betting unit - if he 3-putts.
  • Version 2: Closest to the pine on the par-3 automatically wins the oozle - unless he then 3-putts or worse, which looses him the foozle.

Want more action? Extend Oozles and Foozles to all holes, not just par-3s.

Par Or Out
As a tournament format, golfers drop out as they make a score higher than par (or net par). The last golfer standing is the winner.

As a betting game, the golfer in a group who goes the longest without making higher than par (or net par) wins the bet.

Perfecto - Same as Hogies or Hogans (see above).

Pink Ball - See Yellow Ball.

Pinnie or Polee
The pinnie (a k a polee) is a side bet that is automatically won by achieving one of two things (different groups use one standard or other other):

  • Making a putt that is longer than the length of the flagstick;
  • or stopping an approach shot inside the length of the flagstick.

In the second case, a distance requirement is usually applied (say, approach must be 100+ yards or 150+ yards).

In another option, the pinnie or polee might be available only to the first golfer to stop an approach from 150+ yards within the length of the flagstick.

Rumpsie Dumpsie - Another name for Shoot Out.

Scruffy
When "scruffies" are played, a golfer in a group can invoke a scruffy bet after any one of his drives, good, bad or otherwise. But scruffies are not automatic, and the other members of the group can decline to accept the bet. If the bet is accepted, the golfer who issued the scruffy is betting he'll make par on the hole. Therefore, scruffies are traditionally issued (and especially accepted) following poor drives.

Scuffies
A "scuffy" is a side bet that automatically pays off to any golfer who makes par on a hole after hitting the cart path. Usually played in combination with any number of similar side games.

Selected Score
A game for golfers who enjoy playing 36 holes in a day. After both rounds are over, golfers in the group (or tournament) compare their scores in both rounds - No. 1 in the first round vs. No. 1 in the second round; No. 2 vs. No. 2, etc. Circle the lower of the two scores for each hole. The add up those 18 holes for your Selected Score total.

Seve
Another name for Arnies, except that this name pays homage to Seve Ballesteros. To win the Seve bet, a golfer must make par on a hole without ever being in the fairway. Seve's are typically played in combination with other similar side games.

Shazam
A betting game played on the putting greens in which golfers bet on the chance that another golfer will 3-putt. Once a golfer has reached the green and at any time before he putts, one or more of the other players in the group may call out "Shazam." When another golfer calls out "Shazam," the one putting is forced into a bet with that player. If all three other members of a four-ball Shazam the putter, then the putter has a bet with each of them.

The outcome of the bet varies depending on how many putts the Shazammed golfer then takes:

  • A 3-putt results in the golfer who was Shazammed losing the bet.
  • If he 4-putts, he loses double the bet.
  • If he 1-putts, he wins double the bet.
  • If he 2-putts, no money changes hands.

A player may also Shazam himself if he is outside one flagstick-length from the hole, thereby forcing a bet with all other members of the group. A golfer who Shazams himself wins the bet by 1-putting, but loses double if he 3-putts.

Ship, Captain & Crew - See Wolf.

Sixes - Another name for Round Robin.

Skirts
You know how some charitable golf tournaments sell mulligans before the tourney tees off? "Skirts" describes a similar situation, but in the case of "skirts" what is for sale is the ability for the golfer who buys a skirt to tee off from the forward tees (a k a, the ladies' tees). Let's say tournament organizers are offering "skirts" for $5 each. You buy three of them. You now have the right, during the tournament round, to tee off from the forward tees three times during the round.

Stealies
Used in conjuction with a closest-to-the-pin contest or bet. When stealies are in effect, the losers of the closest-to-the-pin get a chance to steal away the prize or wager. Say a group has agreed to a KP bet on each of the par-3s during the round. Golfer A, B, C and D hit their tee shots on the first par-3 and Golfer C is closest to the pin. So Golfer C wins the bet. But A, B and D can steal away the bet if one of them then birdies the hole (and C does not).  The birdie can be holed from anywhere on the course (chip-in, etc.). (The KP winner can still keep the bet, however, by making his own birdie.)

Strike Three
At the end of your round of golf, look over your scorecard. Find your three highest individual hole scores ... and erase them. Add up your score without those three holes, and that's your Strike Three score. Low score wins.

Sundowner
A term for any golf tournament that is played in the late afternoon, but mostly applied to 9-hole tournaments. Especially when those events are part of a golf league's weekly schedule. Sometimes the term "sundowner" is applied to such leagues themselves, as in a "sundowner league."

Switch
Can be a tournament format or a betting game for a group of four playing 2-vs.-2. Either way, it involves 2-person teams on which the players switch balls following the tee shots, then play out the hole using those balls. After the drives, Player A walks to Player B's ball, and plays it from there into the hole. And Player B takes over A's tee ball. Use the combined score of both golfers, or the one low ball of the side.

T and F (or T&F)
In a T and F tournament, holes whose numbers begin with "t" or "f" - Nos. 3 and 4, for example - holes hold special significance. There are two ways the format is played most commonly:

  • With teams of three or more, or in individual competition, a T and F tournament counts only scores recorded on holes beginning with "t" or "f." There are nine of those holes, four on the front nine, five on the back nine (holes 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15).
  • With 2-person teams, one person's scores are used on the "t" and "f" holes, the other partner's scores are used on the remaining nine holes.

Threesome
A Threesome match is one in which one golfer competes against a team of two golfers, the team of two playing alternate shot.

The Train
In The Train, points are awarded to a golfer who makes par or better:

  • Par - 1 point
  • Birdie - 2 points
  • Eagle - 5 points

Obviously, you want to finish the round with the most points to win the tournament or the bet. But if at any point in the round you make two bogeys in a row - or one double-bogey - you lose all your points and start over again at zero.

Three Blind Mice (or Three Little Pigs)

  • Version 1: A tournament format. After the round, tournament organizers randomly draw three numbers from 1 through 18. Those three holes are thrown out. Golfers add up their scores on the remaining holes, and those are the scores for the round.
  • Version 2: More often a bet, at the end of the round each golfer throws out her three worst scores of the round. Add up the 15 remaining.

Thirty-Nines - Another name for the Chicago format.

Triples
A format or bet for groups of three golfers. A point value is assigned to a player's standing on each hole:

  • 6 points for having the best score on a hole;
  • 4 points for the middle score;
  • 2 points for the worst score.

For ties, the point are added together and divided by the number of players tied. Two examples. For example, if all three golfers tie for low score - 6 points plus 4 points plus 2 points divided by three equals four points for each. If two players tie for low score; 6 plus 4 equals 10; 10 divided by 2 equals five points each.

The bet can be based on overall result; i.e., the player with the most points wins the bet and a predetermined amount. Or it can be based on the differential in points between players, with each point worth a set amount.

Various Pars
A competition format most typically seen in league play and golf association tournaments. Golfers play 18 holes, but only nine of those holes count toward winning the tournament. But which nine holes do you count?

The most common way to play a Various Pars golf tournament is to count:

  • Your best two scores among the par-3 holes;
  • your five best scores from the par-4 holes;
  • and your two best scores on the par-5 holes.

The specific combination that makes up those nine holes may vary regionally, and might need to be adjusted based on the makeup of the golf course being played. But the nine holes that count will always be a combination of par-3s, par-4s and par-5s, and you'll count your best scores on those holes.

Wolfman
Similar to Wolf, but Wolfman is a betting game specifically for groups of three players and the "it" player, so to speak, is automatically chosen based on tee shots. On each hole, one of the golfers will be the Wolfman, while the other two are called Hunters.

Here's how the Wolfman is chosen on each hole:

  • All three players in the group tee off. On par 4s and par 5s, the middle drive (second-longest drive, in other words) becomes the Wolfman;
  • On par-3 holes, the second closest to the hole is the Wolfman.

All three golfers play out the hole at stroke play. The net scores of the two Hunters are added together; the Wolfman's net score is doubled. If the Wolfman's doubled score is lower than the Hunters' combined score, the Wolfman wins the hole (and the bet). If the Hunters' combined score is lower, they win the hole and bet.

Yellowsomes - See Gruesomes entry above.