How To Play Nassau: Front-Back-Overall

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Nassau is one of the most common betting games in golf. You might know it better by the simple phrase: front, back, and overall. Some golfers play Nassau so often they just refer to it by the value of the prize for each of the three bets: 2-2-2.

That’s right, Nassau is three games in one!

If you want to add extra excitement to your regular foursome. Give Nassau a try. This game can be played using match play, stroke play and many other golf game formats. It also works perfectly with standard handicaps, partial handicaps, or no handicaps at all.

Let’s examine how Nassau works on the golf course.

nassau golf betting game
Nassau Golf Scoring Structure

Scoring Nassau Golf Game

Nassau is three separate games played over a single 18-hole round of golf. One bet for the front nine (outward). Another bet for the back nine (inward). And a final bet for the entire 18 holes. 

Traditionally, all three of these bets have the same monetary value. A $2 bet is common and is often referred to as the $2 Nassau.

The player that wins the front wins $2. The player that wins the back nine wins $2. And the player that wins all 18 holes wins the final $2.

However, Nassau can be played for any amount of money. Other common amounts are $5, $10 and $20. Of course, the big money players can just add some zeros.

Nassau Rules & Formats

Nassau describes the structure of the bet: front, back, and overall. It does not define the exact game being played, and there are many different games that can be played within the Nassau structure.

Singles match play is the most common game to play within the Nassau framework. Best Ball with two teams of two players (otherwise known as four-ball) is also commonly played with Nassau.

Stroke play, scrambles, alternate shot, and almost any other golf game can fit into the Nassau betting system. Even Split Sixes and Bingo Bango Bongo could be played in the Nassau format.

When using the Nassau betting format, you are dividing the game into three separate bets. This keeps things interesting during the second half of the round even if the overall score gets out of hand.

In fact, Nassau was originally created at Nassau Country Club to reduce the embarrassment of prominent businessmen that often lost their matches by wide margins. Reporting a loss with the score 0-3 doesn’t look nearly as bad as losing 10&8 in match play.

Press Options

The press is a common feature of Nassau bets. When a player invokes a press, they are opening an additional bet concurrently with the original bet.

The press is normally reserved for the player that is trailing in the match and the new bet is usually of the same value as the original wager. By pressing, the losing player has a fresh start and better chance to even the final score.

But be careful, the press can also multiple your potential loses. Learn more about the golf betting press and its many variations.

press the bet in golf
Pressing Golf Bets

Using Handicaps When Playing Nassau

Handicaps can (and often should) be used when playing a Nassau game. The way handicaps are applied depends on the game being played. By using handicaps, players of different abilities can compete against one another evenly.

Handicaps also add to the strategy of a Nassau bet, especially when the game allows for players to press.

Learn more about average golf handicaps to see how your golf game stacks up.

Tips for Betting the Nassau

The basic $2 Nassau seems like a modest game. The most you can lose is $6, right?

Not exactly! When the press is used, the bets begin to double. If unlimited presses are allowed, it doesn’t take long for this modest game to grow into a much more expensive proposition.

So, how can you maximize your chances to come out ahead?

First, know the handicap situation. If you are getting extra shots on the upcoming holes, you have an advantage and can be more confident pressing the action.

Also, know the course, know yourself, and know your opponent. 

Do the next few holes favor a draw? Are the remaining holes long or short? How do you compare to your opponent on those types of shots?

Answering these questions will help you decide if and when to press. Just be careful not to press unless you have a real and meaningful advantage.

Related article: Fade vs. Draw in Golf: The Differences and Tips for Each


Nassau is a common and fun betting game that can be played with almost any golf scoring format. 

By dividing the game into three separate bets, you can keep the competition interesting over the entire round. It also requires some additional strategic thinking from all players.

Next time you’re golfing with friends, try the Nassau on top of your regular game. Just remember to be cautious with the press so the game doesn’t get too expensive.

David Shelly
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