Thursday, December 29, 2011

Want to Bet?

Back in the 1920s, a world-class hustler named Titanic Thompson cleaned up on the golf course in a variety of ways.  Our favorite: betting a sucker that he could make a 40 foot putt, with one condition.  The attempt had to be made first thing in the morning, before anyone else played.  Meanwhile, Titanic would pay off a greenskeeper to lay a 40 foot piece of hose from ball to cup overnight, guaranteeing just enough of an indentation in the short grass for the ball to track straight into the hole.  We hardly recommend that sort of chicanery when you show up on the first tee with your regular weekend foursome, but it certainly can get even more interesting employing some of our favorite gambling games.

Side Bets:  Bring a wad of cash and go to it on longest drive, closest to the pin, yes or no on that knee-knocking eight foot putt, up and down from the sand, and pay off immediately.  It provides lots of incentive for the next hole when you lose a few bucks on the side.

Bingo bango bongo:  You get a point if you hit the green first.  You get a point for being closest to the hole once all four shots are on the green.  You get a point if you hole out first.  That's the basic concept, and you can add any or all of the options from our side bets up above.  Add up every player's points and scores and, figuring $1 a point, Gamblers Anonymous likely won't be in your future.

Stableford:  They used this system at the old PGA Tour event at Castle Pines, just for a change of pace from low strokes wins.  Employing handicaps, it's a point for net bogey, two for a net par, three for a net
birdie, and five for a net eagle.  High point man wins.  Again, save the rent money and make it a buck a point.

Skins:  Pick a set amount for every hole, and the winner of the hole collects.  If no one wins the hole, it carries over to the next hole and on and on, until someone wins a hole, and all those precious skins/bucks.

Wolf:  Macho individuals love this game.  Your foursome decides on a batting order off the tee.  First player to hit then has a choice after seeing where the others have hit their drives.  You may be down the middle, one partner is behind the tree, and the other two are in the deep rough.  You have a choice of picking a partner to complete the hole or go lone wolf and take the other three on yourself.  If you lose as a wolf, the bet is doubled.  After 16 holes, low man in the standings gets to recoup his losses by teeing off first on the final two holes.  You'll howl all the way to the clubhouse.

Nassau:  Golfers worldwide have been using this format since the early 1900's, courtesy of John B. Coles Tappan, the club captain at the Nassau Country Club on Long Island.  It remains the most popular of all gambling games and can easily be combined with other contests as well, depending on how deep your pockets may be that day.  Let's take the $2 Nassau.  Pick your partner in a foursome and play the other two.  If you win the front nine, you win $2.  If you win the back nine, it's $2 more.  The winner over 18 holes also collects $2.  Worst case scenario, you lose $6.  It also can get far more interesting on "presses".  Let's say you're 3 down on the front after four holes, so you press, setting up another $2 bet for the remaining five holes.  If action is your goal, you can add an automatic press any time you get two down.  We've known degenerate gamblers who will even press the press on the press.

List provided by Leonard Shapiro and Ed Sherman (Golf List Mania)