Golf: The Ultimate Gambling Sport

In preparation for my upcoming round of golf with four people of different abilities, I came to realize that golf has more opportunities for gambling than any other sport. In addition to stroke play and match play, you have a wide variety of games that can incorporate teams or individual skills. Best Ball, Scramble, Alternate shot, longest drive, closest to the pin, Bingo-Bango-Bongo, Dots, Nassau, Skins, and many more. System 36 helps you develop a handicap so all these games are fair. The picture above is Arnold Palmer paying off Jack Nicklaus.


  1. Bingo-Bango-Bongo is a sentimental favorite of mine because my dad taught it to me. Playing honors (as opposed to ready golf), it's a point for the first person on the green, the closest to the pin once everyone is on the green, and longest putt (which, with honors, is the first person in the hole). The first point gives more opportunity to the shorter drives, because they will be hitting first. The first two points tend to be negatively correlated, someone hits the green on their approach, while someone else misses the green, but chips closer to the hole. The last point tends to be significantly more random.

  2. Continue to think of how many times you have seen a gambling element between golfers. Even on TV, you see it with the Skins game and match play. You hear about Michael Jordan betting with everyone, Tiger Woods giving John Smoltz 3 strokesa side. Those guys are probably all playing Nassau's. It is actually encouraged among players. But you never see that in any other sport.

    Is it because you're not exactly playing against an opponent? Everyone is playing against the same golf course? What makes it acceptable in society, where if you mix the word 'gambling' and 'baseball' you get shunned.

  3. What does with honors mean?

    I have to read up on what Nassau is cause I have no idea. I do agree that golf has all these crazy gambling options... it's like prop bets in other sports, except it's baked right into the competition. You can go straight up against another person but in golf, for some reason, there is a detached element where you are playing your "handicap."

    Why doesn't this happen in other sports? If we played a pickup game, I would not be spotting you a handicap of 3 free baskets just because I'm better... that is a good question

  4. Bingo Bango Bongo seems to favor the better golfer... isn't the better player going to get closest to the pin and longest put more frequently?

    The more I think about it, I think all these bets emphasize the social aspect of golf. It can be pretty solitary otherwise, so including a competitive angle on ever facet of the game creates more fun interaction amongst the players. What do you think?

  5. Well, almost everything about golf tends to favor the better golfer. But longest putt is much more random than you think. Imagine you have a scratch golfer, who gets a green in regulation every time. He's probably driving longer and hitting last into the green. So if the other players get a green in regulation, they get that point. If they miss and the good golfer gets the first point, then they are chipping and can probably chip it closer than the good golfer from the fairway.

    For the longest putt, let's say the good golfer averages 20-30 feet away for his first putt, and he continually lags it to 6 inches, and makes one super long one. He'll get the point for making the long putt, but the lesser golfers will probably be taking their putt from 1-3 feet.

    In this game, tap-ins, even tap-ins for par, are killers.