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Making wagers on your golf game adds excitement to any afternoon on the links. One way to make every stroke count is to play Las Vegas style!
What Is a Vegas Golf Game?
Las Vegas golf game is a high-stakes betting format for two teams of two. This game is best for experienced golfers who can score consistently. Otherwise, the score differences can quickly get out of hand.
Each pair combines their scores on each hole to form a two-digit number. The difference in score determines the cash prize for that hole.
Two evenly matched teams will enjoy an exciting competition. The Vegas scoring format can adds countless thrills to your regular round.
Here is a complete guide on how to play the Vegas golf game. Hit it!
How To Play Vegas Golf Game – Step By Step
Vegas golf is scored differently than other golf games because players scores are combined rather than added together. This creates a unique element to the game but requires some effort to calculate. It’s a breeze once you get the hang of it.
Step 1 – Choose Partners
Four buddies out on the course will pair up for a round of Vegas Golf. If you have a wide variety of skill levels, make the teams as even as possible. Two high-handicap and two low-handicap players should separate with one high and one low on each team. If everyone has similar skills, you can draw names from a hat or toss balls on the first tee.
Step 2 – Set The Wager
Vegas golf is known to be a high-roller golf game. The highly experienced or wealthy among us can bet $1 per point. But be careful, even $1 points can add up quickly with this scoring system.
For a more manageable wager, set your bet at a quarter or 50 cents per point. Trust us, even quarter points will produce an engaging game without breaking the bank.
Make sure you are comfortable with the bet before shaking hands on the course. Betting on golf is supposed to be fun, and nothing ruins a round quicker than frustration over the possible payout if you have a bad day.
Step 3 – Keep Scores
Scoring is where Las Vegas golf gets interesting compared to other betting games with pay-per-point scoring. Partners combine their scores for a two-digit number rather than adding them for a sum.
Player A scores a 6 on the first hole, and his partner Player B makes a 4. Instead of adding them together for a total of 10, they combine for a score of 46. The smaller number always comes first except in a few circumstances. Players C and D score a 5 and 6, respectively. Their score is 56. The difference between the scores is 10 points. At $1 per point, that is $10 for Team AB.
Here is this example displayed on a sample score card:
Players use the lower number of strokes as the first number for the score on each hole. You make a 4 and your partner makes a 5 for a combined score of 45. However, there are a couple exceptions to this rule.
If someone makes a 10 or more, you’re allowed to take the 10 first. For example, you have a horrible hole and end up with 10 strokes, but your partner fared much better with a 6. You’ll combine your numbers for 106 instead of 610.
Utilizing this rule helps alleviate huge advantages when one player puts up a dreadful number. In the above example, say the other team put up a 5 and 6. They score 56 for the hole. The difference between 106 and 56 is 50. Even if you’re playing for quarters, that’s a deep disparity to overcome.
If you had to take the 610 for a 554-point difference, no average handicap golfer would ever play the Vegas golf game!
Flipping the Bird
The other exception in scoring a Vegas golf game is Flipping the Bird. This is an optional rule that can be used to spice up the competition. As if the Vegas golf game isn’t spicy enough!
When a player sinks a birdie putt, they can make the other team reverse the numbers of their score for that hole. Flipping the bird is canceled out if someone on the other team also makes a birdie.
Eagles usually count as well, but no additional penalty is assigned when players score better than a standard birdie.
Step 4 – Tabulate Totals and Pay Up
Keep track of each pair’s combined scores across the entire round. At the end, calculate the final differential to determine the winner and playout.
For example, Team AB’s final score is 930, and Team BCs score is 990. The total difference is 60, so that’s net score used to determine the amount owed. You can see why evenly matched teams are crucial to not losing your shirt in a round of Vegas golf.
It gets even worse with Flipping the Bird and carry-over points. We’ll talk more about carry-over points in Vegas golf later.
Note: It’s good etiquette to settle your debts right away. No one wants to be the guy who has to call a friend or acquaintance to get their winnings.
Strategies for a Successful Vegas Golf Game
Part of betting while you golf is the excitement of making every stroke count. This is particularly true in Las Vegas golf because a bad hole or two can create a huge deficit to overcome. A few tips will help you enjoy your round of Vegas golf whether you win or lose.
Know Your Skill Level
Proficient golfers with a low handicap can play against a comparably skilled team, and no one will break the bank over a friendly bet. High handicap players should team up with a more skilled player. Groups of low or mid-handicap players can mix up teams in different ways. Always use handicaps to keep things as fair as possible. More on that later.
Keep the Wager Reasonable
Don’t bet more than you you can cover. The high-risk, high-reward nature of the Las Vegas golf game adds intrigue to the round, but getting in over your head is never a good idea.
Be Clear About Rules and Variations
Setting clear rules before teeing off assures that everyone knows what they’re getting into. Decide as a group if the Flipping the Bird rule is in play, or if other variations are part of the game, before you tee off.
Determining how ties will be settled is also important. Tied holes can be voided and no points earned. However, some players like to use the carry-over system which further amplifies the game.
For carry-over points, let’s say the two teams tie two holes in a row. If Team AB wins the next hole, multiply the points by the number of holes it took to break the tie. In this case, three. Team AB earns a 44 and Team CD gets 54. Multiply 10 points by 3 holes for a tiebreaker score of 30.
Keep a Running Score
It only takes a few extra minutes to tabulate a running score as you go. It helps keep the numbers straight if you use Flipping the Bird and carry-over tiebreakers. Knowing the exact score enhances the competition because you’ll know how much each stroke counts. It also saves time at the end of the round.
Variations for Vegas Golf
Like any golf betting game, there are some variations to Vegas golf. These are satisfying ways to spice up the game if you are used to the basic rules.
Some golfers may want to shake up their game of Vegas golf. In that case, the Monte Carlo style dictates that you multiply your strokes rather than combine them.
Team AB put up a 3 and 4. Their score is 12 for that hole. Team CD both earn a 4 making their score 16. On this hole, Team AB earns 4 points.
Monte Carlo can get out of hand very quickly, so be careful how much you wager and who you bet against.
Double or Triple Point Rules
High-rolling golfers can escalate the stakes even more quickly with double and triple-point rules. As if Vegas and Monte Carlo isn’t extreme enough.
Instead of Flipping the Bird when you sink a birdie, double your score for the hole. Team CD makes a 4 and 6 on a Par-5 for a score of 46. If Team AB puts up a 56, then Team CD earns a total of 20 points. The difference of 10 is multiplied by 2.
If someone drops an eagle, then triple the points. Yikes!
Playing Vegas Golf with Handicaps
Knowing your handicap allows you to choose the best partner and opponents for a round of Vegas golf even if you play straight points. If you want to apply handicaps for the game, and you almost always should, here is how.
Pull up each players course handicap based on the tees you’re planning to play. Everyone will play off of the lowest handicap player. So the lowest handicap receives zero strokes. The other three players will subtract the lowest handicap player’s number from their own course handicap to get a playing handicap.
For example, the four players’ course handicaps are 2, 5, 8, and 10. Here is how it will breakdown:
- 2 Handicap = 0 Strokes
- 5 Handicap = 3 Strokes
- 8 Handicap = 6 Strokes
- 10 handicap = 8 Strokes
From there, you simply apply your strokes to the same number of holes starting with the most difficult holes. This system works the same with almost all betting golf games.
Every shot counts in the Vegas golf game. That’s what makes it an appealing way for skilled golfers to wager over a round. You can play with or without handicaps for a game that is sure to be big-swinging, high-stakes, and exciting.
Unlike most golf wagering games, in a Vegas golf game partners combine scores rather than add them together. This unique way of scoring shakes up the scorecard and makes every shot crucial.
Adding in variations like the Monte Carlo version, Flipping the Bird, or double and triple scoring adds more interest and increases the stakes. Time to hit the strip, or is it the links?