Playing Side Games in Golf

In my younger years, I loved playing side games that would garner me a little bit of pocket change. Nothing serious, I think the most I ever lost or won was $5. Definitely not a Princely sum, but it was fun playing and I do miss it from time to time. Now, I rarely play any side games except with my friend Mike C. He is always looking for a side game and it is fun play head to head against someone.

I stopped playing side games mostly because my regular group is not really interested. Our abilities vary quite a bit and it is very difficult to figure out how to handicap the games. So, we just play golf. It was that way until about a three years ago when Mike decided to challenge me to a game.

At first I outright refused to play; more out of habit than anything else. However, after a bit of friendly ribbing from Mike I decided to take him up on challenge. We do not play for much, but it is fun taking a bit of spare change off Mike. The bragging rights are more important than the dollar or two that I win.

In all fairness, I have to say that Mike has won a match last year. He played well and I did not. We did not play together, but compared cards. Mike was thrilled and I am pretty sure I heard about it for sometime. I say that I gave him too many strokes a side and says it was just great play. I guess we will agree to disagree. 🙂

The biggest challenge of playing any game is trying to figure out how to handicap the players. At any given time, I can shoot between par and 79. I generally use 76 as my bench mark when negotiating the game. And with Mike it is a huge negotiation. Listening to us banter back and forth, one would think we were working on a million dollar deal instead of 5 dollar side game. Regardless, it is all in fun and both enjoy the process of gaining an advantage.

Playing side games in golf is as old as golf itself. It is a way of adding fun to any round as long as everyone keeps things in perspective. It really is not about the winnings, but the bragging rights!

Do you play any side games when playing golf?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


6 thoughts on “Playing Side Games in Golf

  1. Jim, at time I like to play side bets as well, but, as you said it depends who you play with and their willingness to do so. A few years ago I was in a group of 12 (on men’s day) who always played for $$ as betting seemed, at times, to be more important than personal score. We all put $10 into a pot for skins, then there was a $5 wager between the two “teams/carts” playing in the foursome, plus there were $1 greenies. Over the few years I played in this group I normally came out ahead with the bets. But, when playing with this group I often thought about how this was impacting my score as most of the others focused on winning a skin rather than on their round.
    Last year our men’s day foursome (different guys & closer in handicaps) often made two teams and we normally played best ball at $10 per person and $1 greenies. Over the summer the wins most likely balanced out with nobody losing or winning too much $. Side bets can be fun, but, if the bet becomes the focus then it most likely isn’t fun and may negatively impact a person’s round.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Colin

      You are right about the not letting the side bets affect your ability to play or score. During men’s night though, it is about winning and less about the score. We play and sometimes it is better to shoot minus 2 and win a prize than minus 5 and be out of the money. Regardless, side bets can be fun with the right group of players.

      Cheers Jim


  2. Jim, I rarely play side games for the reasons you mention. Mostly it’s the disparate abilities of the players. Used to play a ton of side games when I worked in the business. All the players were good and were interested in some action. It ceases to be fun when the amounts (potential losses) get too high and things get too serious.

    Within the last five years, a guy got himself kicked off our summer Myrtle Beach trip because he drank too much while we had a side game going and embarrassed our group afterwards at a restaurant. (Nothing against side games in this one, but he made a huge issue out of losing something like $10).

    Gotta keep it friendly!



    • Brian,

      I agree about keeping things friendly. Side games are really to just add a bit of fun to the game and if that is not happening, then why do it. Additionally, it is a bit like gambling; if you cannot afford to lose the money, don’t bet. It is plain and simple to me. Thanks for sharing your story.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I generally don’t find that betting increases my competitive urges, and I never suggest one, but I take bets from others when they want. But I do remember betting on number of putts once. That one peaked my interest a little more than usual. Not sure why, but I think I putted a little better because of or maybe even in spite of it.


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