How to Play the Umbrella Game in Golf

Two golfers standing under an umbrella
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"Umbrella," aka the "umbrella game," is a golf game or side bet for teams of two within a group of four. On each hole, points are awarded based on five accomplishments (which we explain in a second). The key factors in Umbrella are these:

  • A side that accomplishes each of the five point-earners is said to score the umbrella, and their points are doubled.
  • The point value of each of those five accomplishments per hole is the same as the hole number: 1 point per achievement on Hole 1; five per achievement on Hole 5; 12 per achievement on Hole 12.

    Example: The Umbrella Game Points

    Golfers A, B, C, and D form a group. Maybe they are buddies who always play together, maybe they are playing a tournament and are just randomly grouped together. But they decide to play the umbrella bet.

    So they pair off: A and B form one side, C and D the other.

    On each hole, points are awarded for each of the following five achievements:

    • Low individual score among the four golfers
    • Your side having the low 2-ball total
    • You hit the green in regulation
    • Your partner hits the green in regulation
    • Either you or your partner makes a birdie

    How much is each of those achievements worth? The point value matches the number of the hole you are playing. So on Hole 1, each of those five things is worth one point - a total of five points is at stake. But if one side sweeps all five, the points double to 10.

    But on the 10th hole, the points look like this (since point values match the hole number):

    • 10 points for low individual score of the foursome
    • 10 points for your side having the low 2-ball total
    • 10 points if you hit the green in regulation
    • 10 points if your partner hits the green in regulation
    • 10 points if either scores a birdie

    On the 10th hole, there are 50 total points at stake, and if one side sweeps all five achievements, that doubles to 100.

    Obviously, the points going up as the round progresses means the pressure builds the closer you get to the end of the round.

    Betting the Umbrella Game

    It's all about earning those points. The two sides compare point totals at the end of the round and the difference is paid out. Just be careful not to get in over your head in terms of setting the value of each point.

    By the time you reach No. 18, 90 points are available for that one hole (18 points per achievement). If you're playing one dollar per point, that's $90 at stake on a single hole - $180 if one side sweeps! That's much too rich for most us, by far. So choose the point value wisely.

    Another option is for each of the four golfers in the group to chip into a pot at the beginning of the round. Then, at the end of the round, rather than paying off the difference in points, the side with the most points wins the pot.