As the CORVID-19 pandemic sweeps its way around the globe, not only has it cancelled almost every sport in the entire world but it’s forced you to practice “Social Distancing”. Whether it be voluntary or government mandated, everyone is advised to stay as far away from people as humanly possible.
Your favorite pub? Shuttered. Your gym? Closed until further notice. Your local OTB? No refuge here. That casino 30 miles away you and your buddies go to on weekends to hang out at the sportsbook and play craps from sunset to sunrise? Go find somewhere else to blow your money you degenerate.
The next few months might be pretty dull for most Americans.
Luckily, there’s still an activity where someone can scratch that gambling itch and bring sports back into their life in an anti-cornoavirus approved activity.
The golf course.
According to Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, an associate director of infection control at the University of Nebraska Hospital, “being in a wide-open space, outdoor space is the least at-risk scenario. Precaution is the name of the game. It’s very reasonable to play (golf) if you are smart about it and follow proper guidance”.
It makes perfect sense why the golf course is a perfectly safe activity from the coronavirus. There are acres and acres of land to comply with the CDC suggested guidance of standing no more than 6 feet from another person. As long as you use your own cart or walk the golf course and avoid handshakes, golf can be a very therapeutic outlet to the isolation we’re required to have over the next few months.
Gambling is practically woven into the fabric of the game of golf, although instead of exchanging cash at the end of a match may I suggest a more sanitary PayPal or Venmo transaction.
Here are some great ways to gamble on the golf course with your pals:
This is by far the most common way to gamble on the golf course with your playing partner or partners. The classic format of the game is a 2-2-2 Nassau. Basically, the match is broken up into three bets – $2 prize on the Front Nine, $2 prize on the Back Nine, and $2 overall prize for all 18 holes.
Any dollar amount can be set for the match, so if you want to really up the ante and your playing partner agrees, feel free to up the stakes. Players can also incorporate handicaps in case there is a big talent disparity between two or more players. And there are many rules and formats a Nassau can be played in. Team match play, stroke play, best ball, alternate shot, and other formats are very easily adaptable to a Nassau.
The reason why typical Nassau’s are only $2 formats, however, is the ability to press. A press is another bet made by a competitor at any time during the match, and the more presses are made the higher the stakes can get.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a 2-2-2 Nassau with head-to-head match play against your buddy. You’re typically a slow starter and you’re already 3 down through 3. But this isn’t your first rodeo playing with your buddy, and you know he’s coming up to his dreaded 4th hole. It’s the one where you know no matter what he’s hitting a nasty hook into the pond and hitting 3 from the tee.
At that point, you can press him in many ways. Maybe it’s a press bet that he hits the fairway on his drive. Or that you’ll beat him on the hole. Or if you know that wild hook into the pond puts him on tilt for a few holes, you can press another match with him from Holes 4-9 for $2 more dollars.
With the ability to press, the stakes can get pretty high in a hurry. Soon enough there’s multiple bets that you’re juggling the remainder of the round. You’ll need to either be a good note taker on the scorecard or rely on your partner to keep track of them all, but a Nassau is a great and easy way to golf and gamble simultaneously.
This game typically requires at least 4 players. Every hole a player is designated the “Wolf”, who tees off first. He then watches his playing partners tee off in order and has decisions to make. He can choose to play with another player on the hole based just on their tee shots, creating a 2 vs. 2 match where best score of the hole for each team wins. If the wolf wants to pair up, they must declare it immediately after they watch a playing partner hit. If he doesn’t like any of their drives or his drive is vastly superior than anyone else’s, he can go it alone where he’ll need to have a better score on the hole than all of his playing partners.
Depending on the decision made by the wolf changes the stakes of the hole. Let’s say the betting unit is $5 per hole for everyone playing. If the wolf plays with a partner and creates a 2 vs. 2 match for the hole, the winning team each receives $5 from the losing team. But if the wolf decides to go it alone against his three playing partners, the stakes are doubled. If the wolf wins the hole, they’ll receive $10 from each of his playing partners. If the wolf loses, then they’ll have to pay each of his playing partners $10.
The player that’s designated the wolf is rotated every hole, and the playing order for each hole remains the same. At the end of the round, the tallies are counted and the rewards or debts are settled for each player.
3. Wolf Hammer
This is a game of Wolf on steroids. In order to understand the game, it’s better to see it in video form. Here’s a video from the guys at No Laying Up explaining how the game is played and the ways the stakes can ramp up quickly:
For detailed written rules of the game, click here.
4. Tee Box Knockout
Let’s face it – at least once a round you’re going to have an agonizing wait on the tee box while some scrub ahead of you hacks their way up to the green. There’s nothing worse when you’re having a great round, only to be put in the penalty box for 15 minutes on a backed up tee box. You try and to make small talk with either your playing partners or the random stranger you were paired up with on the tee sheet, but the little voice inside your head is having a temper tantrum and screaming…
But what if you could take the torture of slow play and turn that into a quick way to win a few bucks from your pals? Tee Box Knockout is something my buddies and I do during those long waits to both kill the time and up the stakes of whatever match we’re playing.
To play, each player takes their driver and their ball and starts on one end of the tee box. The goal of the game is to take turns to hit the opposite tee box marker with your ball, then go back and try and hit the other marker with your ball. Once you have hit both tee box markers, you try knockout your playing partners by hitting your ball into their ball. Last man standing wins.
It’s a simple, relatively stupid game. But it beats tapping your foot and rolling your eyes as you watch someone take 4 shots to get out of the fairway bunker. The game keeps you in a good state of mind and the opportunity to win a few dollars from friends before you resume play.
5. Bingo Bango Bongo
This is a game for two or more players, and it’s a game even the worst golfer can play and end their round with a profit.
There are three mini-games for each hole, with a set dollar amount set for each mini-game. Whoever lands their ball on the green first wins the first mini-game. Whoever hits or pitches their ball closest to the hole once all players in the group are on the green wins the second mini-game. Finally, the player who makes the longest putt on the green wins the third mini-game. This is done for all 18 holes, tallies are kept for everyone and then rewards and debts are settled on the 18th green.
The format of the game inherently makes it just as likely for a scratch golfer to win shares of each hole as it is for a 20 handicap. Even if you take seven shots to get on the green, if your ball is the closest to the hole once you’re on you win that share of the hole. Or if your playing partner leaves his birdie putt on the lip, you can clean up for your two foot triple bogey and take that share of the hole.
To play the game effectively, it’s important to make sure you play proper golf and wait your turn before hitting. Be vigilant of who’s furthest from the green and hole for each shot or putt. But if you and your group remembers to do that, then Bingo Bango Bongo is a great game for all skill levels to make more than a few bucks from your friends, even if they’re far better players than you.