19 Fun Golf Games
There are so many different ways to spice up your golf game. Skins with your buddies, Scrambles for charity, Stroke play for a more traditional option.
Our list is the most comprehensive list you can find, detailing each fun golf game.
Let’s unpack them now.
#1 Alternate shot golf
This fun golf game is centered on two teams competing against one another. The players partner up in teams of two and compete against another pair of golfers.
Each team plays a golf ball from the tee all the way to the hole in accordance with USGA rules for either match play or stroke play. Teammates take turns striking the same ball and alternate tee shots from one whole to the next, making this a true team-oriented game. One teammate tees off on even-numbered holes while another tees off on odd-numbered holes.
The best golf strategy for this game is to take a look at the holes prior to teeing off and having the better of the two players tee off on the holes that are more challenging. The player who does not tee off plays the second shot, likely in the fairway or the rough. This second shot is played from exactly where it lies following the initial drive.
The player who originally teed off on the hole hits the third shot. This alternating of shots continues until holing out. Players tabulate the number of strokes necessary for the hole out to determine the score. The lowest team score across the 18 holes is the winning team. However, if the setup is match play, there is no need to finish all 18 holes if one team is up by a stroke total that cannot be beaten considering the number of holes remaining.
If you are worried about a potential imbalance, pair up players based on their handicap so the game is at least somewhat competitive.
#2 Golf Stroke play
Stroke play is the type of play in which one player competes against others with the lowest score for the round or the tournament determining the winner and the loser. Stroke play is also referred to as medal play. Individual stroke play requires holing out on all holes.
The scores for each hole are added to determine the final score. However, there is a different type of stroke play referred to as maximum score. A committee establishes the max score for each hole in this format. The player can pick up his ball before or after hitting this max score and that score is the score for the hole.
Stroke play is by far the most common type of golf game played. Even those who don’t play golf have a general awareness of this golf game as it has basic scoring anyone can understand. Simply compare your score to those of other golfers and if it turns out your score is the lowest, you will be declared the winner of stroke play.
If the golfer playing the course has a handicap index, it is converted to a course handicap that constitutes the handicap strokes used for the round. As an example, a golfer with a course handicap of 10 decreases the gross score for the round by those 10 strokes.
#3 Golf Match play
Golf match play is a slight variation of the comparably conventional scoring system used in stroke play. Additional emphasis is placed on each hole’s result in this format of play as opposed to shooting the lowest number for the full round.
Match play scoring is commonly used in pro tournaments such as the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup. Match play differs from conventional stroke play golf as the scoring for match play is based on the holes won in the round rather than the aggregate number of strokes. This means the number of strokes necessary to win a hole isn’t as meaningful. In short, it is best to view golf match play as a series of 18 individual games.
The scoring of match play is centered on awarding a point for the player/team with the low score for a hole. If there is a tie, half a point is awarded. The team or player with the most points at the round’s end is the winner. If the score is tied, it is considered all square.
A two hole lead is referred to as 2 up. If the number that a player or team is ahead by equals the number of holes still to play, the leader is referred to as dormie.
The scoring system of match play sets the stage for players to implement an aggressive strategy as the aggregate stroke total is not that important. This means an aggressive drive into the woods will likely lose the hole yet the match will still be in play.
Furthermore, if a player or team is down by several points, it makes sense to be more aggressive, especially as the number of holes dwindles into the single digits as there is a shrinking window of opportunity to make up the point difference. Once a player or team is up more points than the number of holes left to play, the match is over. It is also possible for players or teams to concede the match at any point.
In terms of variations, scoring for three ball match play is in effect when three golfers are playing. Each individual golfer competes against the other in two distinct matches. Match play scoring can also be implemented with teams as opposed to individual players.
#4 Golf Scramble
When it comes to fun golf game ideas, Scramble is one of the top formats. This type of tournament is typically played with teams of two, three or four people. Though handicaps can be applied, plenty of scramble tournaments rely on gross scoring.
The format starts out with each golfer on a team hitting an initial drive. The drive results are compared. The ball that is the best is identified and marked. The remaining golf balls are picked up and moved to the location of the best ball. The second stroke is played, allowing the process to repeat over again. The best ball of the second shot is selected and the other balls are moved to that position for the third stroke and so on, all the way up until the hole is complete.
When golfers move their balls to the site of the chosen shot, they can play within a single club length of the original ball position. However, the caveat is this club length must be farther away from the hole as opposed to closer to it. Furthermore, the original ball’s lie cannot be enhanced in any way. This means if the chosen shot lands in the rough, the rest of the team members must also hit from the rough as opposed to the fairway.
And always make sure you know the exact distance you need to hit your team’s shots with an accurate golf rangefinder!
The order of play is determined by each individual team. However, there is no need for the same golfer to hit each shot ahead of his or her teammates as the game progresses. You can change up the order as desired.
You have a better chance of winning scramble tournaments if you let the worst player in your group swing first, have the longer hitters in the middle and the straightest ball-strikers hitting last. The opportunity to play second or third provides the long-ball hitters with the freedom they need to go all out.
Furthermore, it is sensible to let the golfer who hit the best initial drive hit the second shot as a reward for the initial solid stroke.
Above all, you should consider which members of your team are good at driving, hitting irons, chipping and putting. Take this information into account when determining the order of play.
The best strategy for par-5 holes might be for those who are light hitters to play first, laying up and setting the stage for the long-ball hitters to hit the fairway shot to the green. In terms of strategy around the hole, be sure to consider the green’s undulation, angles, hazards, the lie and pin position when selecting a ball. The worst putter on your team should not putt first. Let the best putter go first providing an accurate read and putting will prove that much easier for the rest of your team.
All different types of golf scramble variations are played. As an example, Bloodsome scrambles involve teams playing their worst ball as opposed to the best ball. Ambrose scramble relies on a net score with a handicap applied. Florida scramble is centered on requiring the golfer whose ball is selecting skipping the next stroke. Miami scramble requires the golfer with the best drive to sit on the sidelines until his or her team reaches the green. These are just a couple examples of the many different golf scramble formats.
#5 Best ball golf
Best ball golf is somewhat similar to the scramble format yet not exactly the same. Best ball is different from scramble in that each golfer strikes his or her own golf ball throughout the entirety of the round. Once the holes end, the low score is recorded as the team’s score.
Most players take golfer handicaps into consideration, ensuring weaker players are provided with strokes on certain holes. Players who receive strokes might be asked by their teammates to play a bit conservative while providing the more experienced golfers with the opportunity to be comparably aggressive.
If there is a first place tie at the end of the 18 holes, a sudden death playoff will be used to determine the winner. If you only have a couple people available for a morning or afternoon of golf, you can still play best ball. This format can be played with teams between two and four people.
Shamble is a variation on scramble. This format is unique in that everything changes following the initial tee shot. Players tee off as they normally would in the scramble format of play. Similar to scramble, everyone on a team plays what they consider the best ball.
However, from the second shot struck to the point of holing out, players continue to play their own ball, essentially combining features from stroke play with scramble play. Shamble golf is typically played by teams of four golfers.
Unless the players competing have a similar skill level, their full handicaps should be accounted for. You can switch things up by counting the top two scores or even the top three scores as opposed to the best score if you want to play a slight variation of shamble.
Some choose to require upwards of four drives from each golfer within a foursome to heighten the pressure all the more. Certain golfers choose to change the requirements in accordance with each hole’s unique par. As an example, each player plays his or her ball on par-3 holes until holing out.
Some choose to select the optimal drive on par-3s and have each player play the ball until holing out. Others choose to go with the best first couple shots on par-5s, allowing each individual to play his or her ball until holing out. Regardless of the variation of shamble you choose, be sure to explain the nuances of the rules to all players to prevent confusion.
#7 Skins game golf
Skins game golf is centered on assigning a skin value to the course’s 18 holes. These values can be uniform throughout the course or bump up in value as much as desired, setting the stage for the final holes to be worth that much more than the initial holes.
As an example, the first couple holes can be worth 10 points while the last four holes count for 20 points each. Players are to set aside a specific wager per hole, assuming the skin value for every hole is the same. A coin is tossed to determine which golfer tees off first. Regular stroke play continues until all players hole out.
The golfer with the low score wins the skin for the hole. If players tie for the low score, the skin rolls over to the following hole. It must be noted skins games do not consider player handicaps.
The course holes are played until the round is complete. Just be sure to keep track of which players win the skins for the holes as the competition progresses.
Proceed to add up the number of skins.
The player with the most skins is the winner.
The whole round version of skins does not identify the winner of the round until it is complete. Players place their money into a pot to start the round, play the round in its entirety and earn a skin for shooting the low score on a hole. Once the round is over, the pot is divided up based on the total number of skins earned by each player.
The Back It Up version of the skins game empowers players to “back it up” rather than pocketing the prize. If a player backs it up, the skin is worth double in the event it is won. Furthermore, the skin laid on the subsequent hole is worth two times as much.
#8 Four ball golf format
Four ball golf is a golf format that can be used in either stroke play or match play in which there are two partners per side. Each golfer strikes his or her own ball. The side’s score is that which is the lower of the two partners on each specific hole.
For the most part, four ball is played in the form of match play in which teams of two golfers compete with one another. This is precisely why four ball is called as such. Four balls are played on every single hole when teams of two square off against each other.
According to the USGA, the course handicap for each of the four players is decreased by the lowest handicap of the players involved in the competition. This player then plays from scratch. The remaining players are provided with 100% of the difference. The USGA states when four ball stroke play is played, the two golfers per side are permitted 90% of the course handicap. This figure bumps up to 95% for female players.
Stableford isn’t the most popular form of golf yet every golfer should know about it. Stableford involves a golfer playing against the rest of those in his or her foursome.
The game is centered on points that are earned by determining the score on the hole. Each point is worth a specific amount of money determined prior to the game. This means points are the point of focus as opposed to strokes.
If a player shoots four strokes under par, six points are provided. Three strokes under par equates to five points. Two strokes under par equates to four points. One stroke under par equates to three points. Two points constitutes a level par. One point equates to one stroke over. If the player is two strokes over par or even more strokes over par, zero points are awarded.
However, the number of strokes awarded on a hole is determined by the total number of strokes before adjustment in accordance with each player’s unique handicap. This means a golfer with a handicap of eight is provided with an extra shot on holes in which there is a stroke index of 1 – 8. Modified stableford is an alteration of standard stableford with different point levels implemented.
Three strokes under represents eight points in modified stableford. This variation awards five points for two strokes under, two points for one stroke under, zero points for the same number of strokes, negative one point for one stroke over and negative three points for two strokes over par or higher.
Stableford can be confusing. This article from the leftrough.com does an excellent job breaking it down further and giving more detail to the scoring.
Beezergolf.com also has an excellent app that simplifies the scoring tracking. Their app does all the heavy lifting of keeping the score and scoring each hole. This article goes into detail on the scoring specific to stableford scoring.
#10 Chapman golf format
The Chapman golf format, also known as the Chapman System, is the moniker for a two-person team competition in which both golfers on a team hit drives, playing the other’s golf ball on the second shot.
When it comes to fun golf tournament games, Chapman shines particularly bright. In tournament format, this game can be played with stroke play or between two-golfer teams. The better of the second shots is used for the subsequent shot. The two teammates continue alternating shots until holing out.
#11 Bingo bango bongo golf
Though it might sound as though this golf game was made up out of thin air, it is very real and played by plenty of golfers across the globe. As long as you are a stickler for golf etiquette and rules, you will love bingo bango bongo golf.
This game is centered on winning the three points available at each hole. The points correspond to completing specific activities. The first golfer to finish each such activity is provided with a point. The total points are tabulated at the round’s end so cash can be divided in accordance with point totals.
Most golf groups typically play for a dollar per point. The bingo point is awarded to the first of the golfers within the group to land their golf ball onto the green. Once the golf balls have made it to the green, the golfer with the golf ball that is closest to the flagstick wins the bango point. The bongo point is that provided to the golfer whose golf ball ends up in the cup sooner than those of competing players.
Etiquette is particularly important in this golf game as the majority of the points up for grabs hinge on being the first of the golfers to win them when playing in the proper order.
This means if a golfer goes out of turn to win one of the three points, the point for the hole is provided to the second golfer to achieve either. Etiquette is especially important or par-3 holes when it is possible to win both the bingo and bongo points. In other words, every single hole on the course matters a great deal.
Even if you are not an expert golfer, you will enjoy this golf game as it is possible to shoot a bogey or worse on a hole and still win a bingo bango bongo point. Keep in mind, the golfer who is farthest away from the flagstick plays ahead of the other players. Furthermore, one’s score does not determine bingo bango bongo points yet it is still important as it dictates the player who tees off first on the next hole.
This is an important twist, especially for shorter holes where the first player to make it onto the green is provided with the bingo point.
In terms of strategy, it does not always makes sense to hit driver off the tee. The better approach might be to hit a safe shot into the heart of the fairway so you have a better opportunity to approach the green.
Though this strategy means you will be farther away from the green than competitors, it sets the stage to win the bingo point. If you miss the green on your fairway shot, don’t give up! It might be easier to win the bango point by chipping from the fringe rather than trying to hit it from the fairway.
In terms of the bongo point, it is logical to make a run for the hole on your first putt as it won’t do you any good to merely get within a couple feet of the cup as the objective is to be the first in your group to sink a putt.
#12 Lone ranger golf game
Lone ranger golf is centered on two teams of three or four players competing against one another. This game is played with best ball format. Each golfer plays his or her own ball though those players take turns as the lone ranger as determined prior to teeing off.
Two scores are recorded per team in the form of the long ranger score and teammates’ best ball score. The first player is the lone ranger for holes 17, 13, 9, 5 and 1. The second player is the long ranger for holes 18, 14, 10, 6 and 2. Golfers enjoy this format as it puts pressure on each individual player to play at his or her best.
#13 Quota golf game
The quota golf game is optimal for players of varying handicap levels. Players subtract their handicaps from 36 at the beginning of the round. The resulting figure is the golfer’s quota for that day. At this point, the players establish a point system maintained without the implementation of handicaps.
As an example, eight points can be awarded for an albatross, six points for an eagle, four points for a birdie and two points for a par while zero points or even negative points are subtracted for a bogey, double bogey, etc. The golfer who finishes the round with the most points above the quota is the winner.
This winner is provided with the pot the players decided on prior to the round. Alternatively, the losers can pay the winner a certain amount of money based on the point differential.
#14 Peoria system golf
The Peoria system is a one-day handicapping system for golf competitions in which the majority of the golfers do not have actual handicap indexes. This system is partially based on luck.
A handicap allowance is decided upon at the start of the round and subsequently applied to each player’s score. The groups play stroke play to complete their rounds. However, the max score for each hole is double par, meaning six is the maximum possible score on a par-3 hole.
Once play is complete, the half dozen Peoria holes are announced. These holes have unique par scores to ensure the golfers do not strictly play par-3s or par-5s. These “secret” holes are played, the total is multiplied by three and par is subsequently subtracted form the total.
The number from this calculation is multiplied by 80%. This figure represents the golfer’s allowance.
The allowance is reduced from the golfer’s gross score, generating the net Peoria score. Let’s take a look at an example to simplify this golf scoring format. Consider player X who requires 30 strokes to complete the half dozen Peoria holes. The 30 strokes are multiplied by three, equaling 90. Subtract the par of 72 for the 18 holes and you have 18.
This figured is multiplied by 80%, resulting in an allowance of 14. This figure is subtracted from the player’s gross score of 90, generating a Peoria score of 76. In other words, the Peoria scoring system should be thought of as a single day handicapping system for golfing tournaments in which the majority of golfers lack actual handicap indexes.
The logic in not using gross scores is to provide newbie and intermediate golfers with a chance to compete with better players.
#15 Golf snake
Snake is a golf wagering game that metaphorically bites the player in the group with the most recent three-putt at the end of the round. The player who three-putts last when playing snake ends up owing the other players a favor or money.
In short, golf snake is centered on avoiding three-putts. However, a three-putt is acceptable as long as the player is not the last member of the group to three-putt. The group players have to determine the amount of money wagered prior to starting the round. Keep in mind, the snake remains as such for only as long as it takes for another golfer to three-putt.
The second golfer to three-putt becomes the snake and so on. Once the round ends, the golfer who is the snake owes the rest of the group. If you are looking to implement a twist on Snake, you can double the money wagered each time the snake is passed to a new player.
However, the stakes can get quite high with this approach assuming there are several three-putts during the round.
#16 Wolf golf game
Wolf is played by golf foursomes. This game is quite strategic in all regards. Players decide on a permanent driving order prior to the start of play.
The wolf is the initial player to hit. The wolf hangs back and observes the ensuing shot. The wolf then decides if he will partner with one of the golfers who hit after him, creating a two on two matchup or, alternatively, opting to play his or her own shot and competing against the other three players.
This means each hole on the courses is contested as either a one versus three match or a two versus two match. If you don’t want to keep score on your own, download one of the many golf apps for scoring wolf games and you will find the game is quite easy to play and keep track of. However, your group will have to decide on a dollar value for each point. In a two versus two match, the side that wins gets a point per player.
If it is one versus three, the winning team is provided with two points per player while the wolf point’s double in the event of a victory. If the wolf plays by his or her lonesome, the winning side is provided with three points, meaning the wolf has the potential to win triple points. If a hole ends up tied, there is a wash and the points do not carry over.
#17 Daytona golf game
If you are looking for golf fun, you have found it in Daytona. Daytona is a golf wagering game in which teams consisting of two players square off against one another.
Daytona is a unique game in that the two golfers per side do not add their scores together. Instead, their scores are paired to generate a new number. Also known as Las Vegas, Daytona golf has the partners with the low score hitting before the competition.
In the context of Daytona, flipping the bird refers to a situation in which one side makes a birdie and the other side does not, setting the stage to reverse the opponents’ score so the higher number is first.
This means the game’s points can add up surprisingly quickly, making the stakes in Daytona uber-high. Flipping the bird makes the game even more risky as the numbers just keep on rising. This is why players should exercise caution when setting the dollar value for each point at stake in Daytona. Once the round ends, the points are added up and the payouts are paid accordingly.
#18 Cha cha cha golf game
This golf tournament format is typically played with teams of four golfers. There is a three-hole rotation that determines the scores used to determine each team’s score.
A single score, two combined scores or possibly even three combined scores are used on each hole to represent the score of a team. The hole’s placement in the rotation shapes the score. Also known as Arizona Shuffle, Irish Four Ball and 1-2-3 Best Ball, Cha cha cha golf is a ton of fun to play. The game’s namesake stems from the first hole within the rotation being known as the “cha” hole.
The subsequent hole is the cha cha hole, the third hole is referred to as the cha cha cha hole and so on. This golf game has the same format as the previously mentioned 1-2-3 Best Ball game. As noted above, one player’s score is the team’s score on the first hole.
The two scores are combined on the second hole. Three scores are combined on the third hole and the rotation begins once again once the fourth hole is reached.
It is the low score of each player that is added to determine the team score for the hole.
Furthermore, it is important to note this format of golf is not a scramble. Each team member plays his or her ball throughout the course, tracking the score the entire time. Let’s take a look at an example of Cha cha cha golf scoring to give readers a better idea of what this game is really all about. Consider an outing in which four golfers on a team tee off on the first hole, scoring 7, 6, 5 and 4. The single low score for the initial hole counts, meaning the team score is 4.
The team’s scores for the second hole are 7, 6, 5 and 5. The two low scores count on this hole, meaning the team’s score for the hole is 10 as it is the result of adding 5 to 5. The scores of the team are 6, 5, 4 and 3 on the third hole. The three lowest scores are tabulated for this third hole, meaning the score is 12 as it is the sum of 5, 4 and 3. The rotation starts over again on the fourth hole where the lowest score represents the team score.
#19 Nassau golf game
This golf game is quite common. You might even spot people playing it at your local golf course.
Though Nassau is a fairly simple game, it can be made that much more complex with an alteration of the scoring system. The overarching Nassau wager consists of three comparably small bets that are represented by the front nine of the course, the back nine and the 18 total holes.
This golf game can be played by individual golfers or by teams with a match play scoring format. Players determine the Nassau bet prior to teeing off. As an example, a $10/$10/$10 wager means $10 is wagered on the front nine, $10 is wagered on the back nine and $10 is wagered overall.
Through stroke play can be used for Nassau, match play is the most popular format. If there is a tie after the initial nine holes are played, there is no victor for this component of the game. The scores from the first nine holes do not carry over to the back nine.
The overarching Nassau is given to the golfer that wins the most holes for the round.
Nassau can be played with a twist in the form of presses. Pressing the bet, also referred to as a press, starts a second comparably small wager that is tacked onto the initial wager. As an example, if a player presses the wager, a subsequent wager starts for the holes from that point moving forward, typically proving applicable for four holes.
The players play these holes as if they are even in the scoring. The press wager is worth the same amount of money as the initial Nassau amount. However, if the second wager is pressed, this game can become a bit tricky, possibly necessitating using pen and paper or a smartphone to keep track of the wagers and scores.
In fact, it is even possible to press the overarching Nassau wager at any point. In short, the press wagers run concurrent to the initial wager. As an example, consider a $2 Nassau wager on the initial tee. This wager can be pressed, resulting in a $4 wager, followed by another press, making the wager $6. If the full side is pressed, the wager becomes $12.
It is quite possible this level of wagering can be reached prior to reaching the back nine holes of the course. Some golfers go all out, pressing the full match on 18. This is precisely why it is sensible to establish a limit on the total potential loss prior to starting the match.
Though Nassau is a popular and fun format for golf, few players are aware of why the game is called as such. Most players assume the game’s namesake likely stems from the fact that the capital of the Bahamas is Nassau.
However, the little-known truth is the name of “Nassau” is a reference to the Glen Cove, NY Nassau Country Club. This is where the Nassau system was first started by Captain John B. Coles Tappan, a member of the exclusive country club. According to the club’s historian, Doug Fletcher, the Nassau format’s origins resulted from Tappan’s creation of a unique scoring system in which a point is provided for the initial nine holes, another point for the second and a third for the winner of the match.
This means the worst possible loss in the original Nassau system was 3 – 0, an embarrassment reported in the newspapers of yesteryear for everyone to see.
Which fun golf game are you going to try next? Comment below and let us know your new favorite!