Cash Games 101

Cash Games 101

While it may be frowned upon or flat-out illegal at some establishments, playing cash games is something you’ll come across frequently as you increase the amount of golf you play. You may have even seen Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth betting per hole in Netflix’s Full Swing or seen examples during the recent match play format featuring Tiger Woods on TNT. If you are new to cash games, here are a few things to know before you dip your toe in.

The Basic Rules:

  1. Agree on the rules: Before starting the round, it is important to agree on the rules that will be followed during the game. This includes the type of game being played, the stakes, and any handicaps that will be used.
  2. Be respectful: It is important to be respectful of your fellow players and to maintain proper etiquette on the golf course. This includes the basics, repairing divots, raking bunkers, and being mindful of pace of play. Regardless of the outcome, you still want people to invite you back. 
  3. Keep track of the score: It is important to keep an accurate scorecard to ensure that the game is being played fairly.
  4. Pay up: At the end of the round, players should pay up the agreed upon amount for any bets or wagers made during the game.
  5. Avoid gamesmanship: While some friendly banter is common during a game of golf, it is important to avoid any behavior that may be considered gamesmanship or cheating.

There are several types of cash game formats, the most popular include:

  1. Stroke Play: This is the most common format in golf, and it involves players completing a full round of 18 holes. Each player's total score for the entire round is added up to determine the winner. In stroke play, every stroke counts, and the player with the lowest total score at the end of the round is the winner. Stroke play can be played individually or as a team, with the lowest aggregate team score winning the competition. Pro tip, if playing with handicaps, determine and negotiate the strokes given before you get started.  
  2. Match Play: This format involves one, two, or full teams competing against each other hole-by-hole, with the winner of each hole being awarded a point. The player or team with the most points at the end of the round wins. In match play, the total number of strokes taken is not important, as long as the player wins more holes than their opponent. Match play can also be played as a team, with the team with the most points winning the match.
  3. Skins Game: This format is played by assigning a dollar value or "skin" to each hole. Players compete to win each hole, and the player with the lowest score on the hole wins the skin. If there is a tie on a hole, the skin carries over to the next hole, increasing its value. The player with the most skins at the end of the round wins the game. Skins games can be played individually or as a team.
  4. Stableford: In this format, points are awarded based on the number of strokes taken on each hole, with the objective being to score the most points overall. The player who scores the most points at the end of the round is the winner. In Stableford, players earn points based on their net score, which is calculated by subtracting their handicap from their gross score. Points are awarded based on how the player's score compares to the course's par, with higher scores receiving fewer points and lower scores receiving more points.
  5. Nassau: This is a three-part betting game that is often played in teams. The game is divided into three parts: front nine, back nine, and overall score. Each part is worth a certain amount of money, and the winner of each part is awarded that amount. Nassau can be played using any scoring format, such as stroke play, match play, or Stableford.
  6. Bingo, Bango, Bongo: This is a game format that awards points for various accomplishments on each hole, such as being the first to reach the green or being the player closest to the pin. Each accomplishment is assigned a certain number of points, and the player who accumulates the most points at the end of the round is the winner. This format can be played individually or in teams, and it can be combined with other scoring formats, such as Stableford or stroke play.

Are we missing something? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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Disclaimer: The explanations provided above for various golf game formats are for informational purposes only and are not intended to provide betting advice or recommendations. Any decision to engage in golf betting or other forms of gambling should be made at your own risk and after conducting your own research and understanding the relevant laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. We do not condone or encourage illegal gambling or betting in any form, and we are not responsible for any losses or damages that may occur as a result of such activities.

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