How to Play the Golf Betting Game Called 'Fishies' or 'Splashies'

A golf ball splashes into a water hazard
Can you make par after hitting into water? That's what you'll have to do to win the golf bet called Fishies or Splashies. Image Source/Getty Images

Splish, splash ... cash? A golf bet called "Fishies" by some and "Splashies" by others pays off when a golfer recovers to make par on a hole after hitting into water.

Fishies/Splashies as a Stand-Alone Side Bet

Fishies is probably the more common name for this side bet within a group of golfers, but many also know it as Splashies.

When a group of golfers agrees that the Fishies bet is in effect, then the bet is automatically won by a golfer who makes par after hitting into water.

Knock your drive into the drink on the par-5 fifth hole? And then make par anyway? You just won a fishie/splashie.

If playing for cash, your group would have agreed before the round what a fishie is worth. Did you agree on $1 per fishie? Then when you parred that fifth hole after hitting into water, you won $1 from each other member of your wagering group.

To win a splashie, your ball must actually be in water - a pond, lake, creek, stream, river. It can't just be inside the boundary of a water hazard (which sometimes means still being on dry land). Your ball must actually go into water, and yet you still make par on the hole - either by proceeding with a penalty or, if the opportunity is there, by hitting out of the water.

Fishies are most commonly earned on par-5s, since the golfer has more strokes to work with. Winning a fishie on a par-3 means holing your next shot after going into the water (one stroke into the water, one stroke - the penalty stroke - out of the water, then holing your third stroke).

For golfers who score a little higher - so that par isn't a very common score under any circumstances - you can play Splashies using net scores (with handicaps) rather than gross scores.

Fishies/Splashies as Part of a Larger Points Game

It's more common to see Fishies/Splashies played as part of a larger points game - one of those catch-all betting games variously known as Garbage, Dots, Junk or Trash.

The reason is that not many golfers are going to win a fishie during a round of golf. Good golfers don't hit into water very often; bad golfers often do but only rarely make par (and ever rarer still after a penalty).

So groups that play Fishies/Splashies typically combine this bet with at least several other similar golf games (Sandies, Arnies, Barkies, etc.), which raises the odds of someone actually winning bets.

Another common way Fishies are played is, as noted, as part of Garbage/Dots. Garbage (or its various other names) is a catch-all - sometimes a dozen or more bets similar to Splashies running concurrently. In that game, you play each bet such as Fishies for points. Set a point value for a fishie, and a golfer who earns one gets the points. At the end of the round, tally up the points and pay out the differences. (Click on the links for Garbage/Dots above for more about how those games work.)

When money's involved, make sure you observe the Rules of Golf for proper penalties and procedures when hitting into water hazards and lateral water hazards ... or at least make sure you observe the traditions established within your group of golf buddies for playing Fishies/Splashes.

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