Golf is the only sport that lets you compete against better players and still have a chance to win the round!
This is thanks to the world handicap system. A low handicap golfer needs to complete a hole or round in fewer strokes than a high handicapper.
To make things even more interesting, you can play countless golf formats on the course, starting from 2 players and more.
We have collected our favorite golf games to play on the course to spice things up during your next golf trip or outing!
Matchplay is an excellent format to play, even when you’re playing with better players. In golf, you usually count every stroke you make over 18 holes and add them up to get your total score.
In matchplay, on the other hand, you start a new competition on every hole you play.
The player who completes a hole with the fewest strokes wins it. This means that a blow-up hole where you score high because you’re hit a ball out of bounds or in a lake doesn’t ruin your whole round.
Whoever wins the most holes wins the competition. If you score the same on a hole, you halve it, and no player gets the point.
This format gets especially interesting once you add each player’s handicap to the round. That means that on a Par 4 hole, a good player is expected to complete the hole in 4 strokes or less.
A handicap golfer, on the other hand, might get a shot on that hole and can complete it in 5 strokes and still play to his/her handicap.
So a net bogey and a Par halves the hole. If both players bogey the hole, the higher handicap player won it!
This is a fantastic game you can play from up to 2 players and more. It’s based on the same principles as matchplay, but with some added pressure in case you score the same on a hole.
Here how it works:
- Each hole is worth one skin
- The player with the lowest score on a hole wins 1 skin
- If you shoot the same score as your opponent(s), the skin gets carried forward, and the next hole is then worth 2 skins
You can see how this game slowly increases the pressure on the next hole when you tie one. This is a great way to practice how well you perform under pressure.
It might not sound like much, but if your put is suddenly worth 3 skins and might decide the outcome of your competition, the nerves definitely come into play.
In this format as well, don’t forget to consider each other’s golf handicaps. A mid-handicapper will have to play close to the hole’s par than a beginner or high handicap golfer.
3. Bingo Bango Bongo
Probably my favorite name for a golf format. The rules are straightforward, but you’ll pen and paper to keep track of the score.
You get a point for achieving different tasks:
- The player first to reach the green with his ball
- The player closest to the hole on the approach shot
- The player first to putt out on the green
As you can see, you have many opportunities to gain points, even if you’re not playing particularly well on a specific hole. Your overall score won’t really matter, as long as you’re completing the tasks mentioned above.
Let’s say Phil and Tiger are playing this format during their next round. Here is how you’d keep score.
Phil and Tiger both drove the ball well, 300 yards middle of the green. They’re pros for a reason…
Phile is a little further from the flag and will go first. He hits his approach shot and lands on the green. He’ll have 10 feet left for his birdie and just made his first point by being the first player to reach the green.
Tiger, who probably has the best iron game in golf, hits his approach shot and sticks it 5 feet from the flag. What a shot.
Tiger also just made his first point by being closer to the hole on the approach shot.
As usual, it all comes down to putting. To no surprise, Tiger sticks his 5-footer for his birdie and wins another point by being the first player to hole out.
So as you can see, after this hole, the score is Tiger 2, Phil 1.
You continue this format, and the player with the highest score after 18 holes won the match.
4. Best Ball
This is an exciting game that doesn’t end up in a competition. It’s rather for people that want to achieve the best score possible.
It works like this:
- All players tee off
- You choose the ball the best ball to play your second shot from and pick up the other balls
- All players then continue the hole from the ball you’ve chosen
This principle continues until the ball is in the hole. That means every player will hit every shot from the position you’ve chosen, and you always pick the ball that leaves you in the best positions.
You can also try this game when playing by yourself. Just tee off with two balls, and play two balls through the entire round. Choose the best ball to continue the hole from, and boom, you might shoot level par this way 🙂
You can also reverse this game and play the worst ball. You just choose the worst ball to continue the hole from and keep score of that ball.
You know your game is spot on if you shoot a good score playing the worst ball!
5. Split Sixes
This is another format that keeps a competition interesting, even if your group has players from different skill levels.
The rules can seem a bit complicated, but they really aren’t once you get the hang of it:
- Each hole has 6 points to be won
- If 1 player wins the hole, he gets 4 points
- The second best score gets 2 points
- The worst score on that hole gets no point
- If you halve the hole, you split the score
If one person wins the hole and the others halve it, the score would be 4-1-1. If the players with the best score halve the hole, you count 3-3-0
A simple way to remember how to count is to make sure each score adds up to 6 on every hole. You also need to consider each other’s handicaps, as a low handicapper might need to complete a Par 3 hole in 3 strokes. Still, as a beginner and high handicapper, you get 1 additional stroke, so scoring 4 is a net par.
What to do next
Give these games a try and spice up your next golf outing. There are countless formats you can try on the golf course.
The beauty of golf is that it allows you to compete with better players by using the handicap system.
No other sport lets you play a competitive game against a pro and still have a chance to win!
If you’re interested in learning more about the game of golf, make sure to visit mygolfheaven.com.