15+ Fun Golf Games to Play on the Course

Matt Callcott-Stevens

Author: Matt Callcott-Stevens

Although the challenge of reducing your handicap is enough to drive us to improve, sometimes we feel like taking the game less seriously.

My buddies and I often play games on the side to keep morale high, and boost our skills. In this post, I share fun golf games for the course that I have played over the years.

You’ll notice that these games are a mix of traditional setups where the lowest score wins, to newly formed side bets, where the highest score is the victor. Plus, these games are designed to incorporate all the golfers in your group.

Key Takeaways – Golf Games For a Wide Range Of Handicaps

  1. You don’t always need to play stroke play every time you go golfing
  2. There are numerous on course golf games that make it more FUN and change things up
  3. Most of these games will help a wide range of handicaps level the playing field among a group

15 Fun Golf Games For The Course

1. Wolf

Wolf is a popular game created to spice up each hole and level the playing fields for a wide range of handicaps. You start by flipping a tee to determine which player takes the honor, and the sequence must alternate on the next hole. You’ll see that the last player to tee off is the wolf, and they can choose whether to partner with a fellow golfer, or play the hole as a lone wolf.

If the wolf forms an alliance and has the lowest team score on a hole, each player in the team receives two points. However, if the wolf and their partner are defeated the opponents receive three points each. Furthermore, you’ll see that if the wolf operates alone, and wins, they earn four points.

Finally, if one player scores better than the lone wolf, all players except the wolf receive one point. The player with the most points at the end of the round wins whatever you agreed to play for at the start.

2. Bad Cards Fore Good Golfers

This is another one of those golf games for a wide range of handicaps, and it’s all about the luck of the draw. Bad cards will force you to worsen your lie, or take a penalty. Conversely, attacking cards help you punish your opponents, to give yourself the upper hand.

In addition, Hell Yeah cards improve your lie or overall score, while the Party category can bring good and bad omens for the entire group. Finally, a ‘Hold On’ card is assigned a negative value, and if you keep it until the end, it helps you shave strokes off of your net score.

Check out our full review of Bad Cards Fore Good Golfers if you want to know more about the card categories and how to play.

3. Skins

Skins is a classic format where golfers compete for money on each hole. The standard format of the game is that each hole is assigned the same value, for example $10. If you win a hole, you earn $10, but if there is no winner, the skin carries over to the next hole. For example, if four holes are tied, the fifth hole will carry a value of $50.

The player with the most skins at the end of the round takes home the agreed upon pool. You’ll find that there are other variations of skins, including different values or multiple skins. With different values, you assign a high worth to harder holes on the course, while multiple skins sees the winner of each hole take skins from each of your opponents.

4. Match Play

Match Play is a fun format where one bad hole does not ruin your round. If you lose one hole, you only go one down, and can make it up on the next hole. You can win a match play game before you reach the final hole if the leading golfer is up by more holes than are left to play.

Let’s say a player is 4 up with 3 holes to play, there is no way your opponent can make a comeback and the game is over. You’ll see that this format provides competitive golf, and is one that more amateurs should employ in their casual rounds.

5. Stroke Play

Stroke play is an intense format for amateurs, where every single shot counts. You do not stop counting until the ball drops into the cup, even if you are playing your 12th shot. This is the format used on the PGA Tour and in competitive amateur events.

In stroke play, you receive -1 stroke for a birdie, -2 for an eagle, and your score remains the same with a par.

Conversely, you add two strokes to your total score when you card a double bogey, and one stroke for a bogey. At the end of your round, you subtract your handicap from the gross total, and the lowest net score wins.

Score
Eagle-2
Birdie-1
ParEven
Bogey+1
Double Bogey+2

6. Stableford

Stableford is a common format for amateur golfers, as it gives relevance to our handicaps, and enables high handicappers to compete with superior players. Stableford is a points system, where you receive three points for a par on a hole that you stroke, and four points for a birdie.

In addition, you’ll find that you are awarded two points for a bogey and one point for a double bogey on holes you stroke. However, when you don’t stroke a hole, you only receive two points for a par, one for a bogey and nothing for a double bogey.

ScoreHoles You Stroke On (Points)Holes You Don’t Stroke On (Points)
Eagle54
Birdie43
Par32
Bogey21
Double Bogey10

7. Alternate Shots

Alternate shots also go by foursomes, and occur when one player hits the tee shot, and your partner plays the approach. You’ll then play the third shot, while your partner plays the fourth. In addition, you’ll tee off on the first, while your partner handles the second tee box.

If alternate shots are not exciting enough for you, you can attempt one of the variations of the game, such as Pinehurst or Chapman. With Pinehurst, both players tee off, and you chose the best placed tee shot. The player who hit the best tee shot sits out, and their partner hits the second shot.

Chapman follows a similar setup to Pinehurst, except the players swap for the second shot. In other words, you hit your partner’s tee shot, and they hit yours, before taking the best placed approach.

8. Murphy

Murphy’s law is one of those golf course games that can punish us for counting our chickens before they hatch, but if you’re a gambling person, take on the old chap. When you are off the green call murphy for an up and down. If you get up and down, you collect two points. However, if you fail to get down in two, you lose two points.

At the end of the round tally up the total points to see which player has the most points wins for chipping. Some players may decide to include other junk games for the round, such as snake, greenie, Sandie, Jones, or an Arnie.

9. Arnie

Arnie is another side game that golfers play, designed to determine the best scrambler in your group. You’ll receive 2 points, if you make a par on a par 4 or 5, without touching the fairway. It is only fair that this kind of resilience is rewarded. At the end of the round add up the scores, and the highest overall total wins.

10. Jones

I know some players who combine Arnie, Murphy, and Jones to see who the best all around player in the group is. You earn points in the game of Jones for accuracy and precision, and there is no room for error.

Your mission is to card a birdie on a par 4 or 5, while maintaining a perfect fairway and greens in regulation record. The player that achieves this feat is rewarded with 4 points, and the individual with the highest total at the end of the round, claims victory.

11. Chicago

Chicago requires some though, and best suits data nerds. Each player is assigned a quota at the start of the round, and the player who exceeds their quota the most wins. Every individual starts on 39, which is the default course handicap, then you subtract your actual handicap to determine your quota.

For example, if you play off a 10, you subtract that from 39, leaving you with a quota of 29. You’ll find that you receive points on each hole for any score between an eagle and a bogey. An eagle is worth 8 points, a birdie gets you 4 points, a par equals 2 points, and a bogey earns you a single point.

ScorePoints
Eagle8
Birdie4
Par2
Bogey1

12. Vegas

Vegas is a fun scoring format where you and your playing partner put your scores together. Instead of adding your scores together, you place the lowest digit in front, followed by the highest digit. For example, if I card a 3 and my partner a 5, our combined score is 35.

Now, combine the score of your opponents, and subtract the two to determine the difference. Should your opponents both card a 4, their total is 44, giving you and your buddy a 9 point advantage. Keep track of the points on every hole, and the team with the highest total after 18 holes wins.

13. Portuguese Caddy

I have a buddy who takes this game too seriously sometimes, but if everyone is on board you can enjoy a stress free round. The Portuguese caddie offers relief to players in a tricky position, as you can kick your ball out of trouble, into a favorable lie.

Your group must agree on how many Portuguese Caddy assists each player is allowed during the round. This prevents one player from taking advantage and doing it on every hole.

14. Nassau

Nassau is a simple game that awards points to the lowest score on the front nine, back nine, and 18 overall score. The beauty of this game is that it treats each nine separately, and gives those players who implode on the back nine, a chance to win something.

The player who wins the most holes on each nine is awarded a single point for their efforts, while the lowest 18 hole score, also earns a point. See which player comes out on top and if there is a tie, you split the agreed upon pot between the winners.

15. Heads – Tails

Heads and Tails is a fun way to alternate teams during a round. Before each hole a coin is flipped and each player makes their call. If multiple players selected heads and it landed on heads, then they team up. If one player selected tails, they play the hole as a lone wolf.

The player with the lowest net score wins the hole outright, and if that player is the lone wolf, they walk away with 2 points. Conversely, if the team wins, each player receives a single point. At the end of the round you calculate the score and see which individual earned the most points.


FAQ – Fun Golf Games to Play On The Course

What games to play while golfing?

The most popular games you can play while golfing are wolf, skins, and match play. However there are numerous games and formats to play on the golf course, it comes down to personal choice.

How can I make golf more fun?

You can make golf more fun by playing different golf games (besides stroke play), to eradicate the stress of traditional strokeplay. Take on your buddy’s in a game of wolf, or put some money on your round in skins.

How many types of golf games are there?

There are three predominant types of golf games – including stroke play, match play, and stableford. However, there are numerous forms of golf course games that stray away from the traditional scoring formats like wolf, skins, alternate shots, Nassau, and Chicago.

How do you play Snake golf?

Snake is a golf game where a player receives -1 point for three putting. Snake forms part of the “Junk” golf games to play, or side bets, where players score different areas of their game. You can combine snake with other junk games such as Murphy, Greenie, Sandie, Arnie, and Jones.