Golf Betting Rules
April 21, 2013
By Dan Daly
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I'll bet you a hundred bucks you slice it into the woods.
Gambling is illegal at Bushwood sir, and I never slice.
While gambling may be illegal at Bushwood, I think we can all agree that at every other golf course in the world gambling takes place. According to the official USGA website, “The USGA does not object to informal gambling or wagering among individual golfers or teams of golfers when the players in general know each other, participation in the wagering is optional and is limited to the players, the sole source of all money won by the players is advanced by the players on themselves or their own teams and the amount of money involved is not generally considered excessive such that the primary purpose is the playing of the game for enjoyment.”
In fact, in the extremely fake survey that I conducted I found that 98.3% of all golfers play for money in some form or fashion; and the other 1.7% just really sucked at golf. In fact, in most cases it was the sole reason people played golf. So I have come up with a three very simple ideas that I feel can better the game of golf when it comes to playing for money.
1. Put out a universal set of rules for all gambling golf games. There are hundreds if not thousands of different games you can play on a golf course, but they all need to have the same rules. How many times do you go to a different course, or play with a different group of people that have different rules for the same game? Deciding the rules on the first hole takes longer than the round itself. Unless you are playing with Tianlang Guan of course.
In hammer, you can either go look at your ball before accepting the hammer, or you can’t. Pick one, make it official and move on.
In wolf, you can shuck, pig or coyote…they all mean the same thing, and again it just depends on where you are playing. Pick an animal and let’s go.
In nines, either everyone’s score doubles on a birdie or just the guy that made it…once again all depends on where you are, and of course you never figure it out until it’s too late and a 15 minute argument ensues.
Look, I could do this all day but the point is I have seen fights break out over this because two guys play the same game two different ways. I blame the USGA. It’s time you suck it up, admit gambling is part of the game and print the official USGA gambling handbook. You can even hide behind a lawyer if it makes you feel better and open the book with something lame like “the USGA does not support or encourage gambling on the golf course; The following terms and games are for entertainment purposes only.” Just ask the NCAA how to do it, they still claim to have “student athletes.”
What is the best way to go about doing this? Well, I’m glad I ask.
It’s real simple and would take about 6 months and a small group of people to create the first edition and just like the regular USGA rules would be updated yearly. Just have golfers submit their favorite game and their groups version of the rules via a website, twitter, Facebook or fax for that matter; put a committee together to review them all and pick the ones that make the most sense and call it the “Bushwood Handbook.” I will happily be the chairman of this committee.
2. Once you make the “Bushwood Handbook”, then you can also make rules about payment. There are simply too many unpaid or slow paid golf debts in this country and it needs to stop immediately.
First I will address public courses. One of the easiest solutions to this is to mandate that every public golf course in America has an ATM on site. Honestly, how difficult is that? In a worst case scenario the loser in question has access to at least $400 immediately following the round, or whatever the daily limit is. Outside of that, if there is any chance at all that your game in question could top $400 then the starter must verify that you also have a checkbook with you before you are allowed to tee off. No check, no cash, no problem…find another group to play with. I’m sure someone is playing one dollar skins a few groups back. I don’t care if you have never met the person or you are best friends; no one wants to track down money. You lost dude, it is your responsibility to pay immediately or you shouldn’t have teed off in the first place.
As for private clubs, this one is actually even easier. A simple mandate that all pro shops are required to keep “X” amount of cash in a safe somewhere on the property and members can access up to “X” amount a day/week/month, whatever you board decides and just charge it to their bill. If it is not paid back in full on their next statement, sorry, you are kicked out the club and have a lawsuit coming your way. How can you get away with that you ask? Simple, before any golf member can ever hit a tee shot at your club they have agreed to this wonderful new program by signing a legal document when they joined. Again, don’t like it, don’t join. No one likes a deadbeat anyway.
3. Finally you need to address the GHIN handicap system. Sure, it’s great for your local 2 man, 2 day best ball. I get that. But we are talking about real golf, for real money. You need to create a gambler’s GHIN; something that addresses all the elements.
What game are you playing? The strokes you get in 5 man wolf game are absolutely not the same amount of stokes you get in a game like hammer or skins. There is a reason team handicap tournaments only use a percentage of each player’s handicap.
What course are you playing? Does a guy on his home course that is a 4 handicap really deserve one shot a side from a guest that has never seen the course because said guest is a 2 handicap on the official GHIN? The answer to that by the way, is absolutely not.
And as bad as that is, the bigger problem is people that play for money that don’t have any sort of handicap at all. It’s $35 a year to carry an official GHIN handicap and takes 3 minutes to set up and 30 seconds to post a score. “I usually shot around 85 so I am a 13 handicap” is not a handicap. In fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth. My average score over the last 20 rounds is a 79.2 and I have a 3.8 GHIN handicap. You do the math, and it goes in both directions. If you can afford to play golf for money, you can afford a legal handicap. It’s that simple.
The bottom line is that golf is a great game, and when done correctly playing golf for money is about as fun as it gets, so it’s about time we set a standard. This is just the beginning.
There are two kinds of golfer’s in this world, those that are good at golf, and those that are good at golf when money is on the line.
– Dan Daly
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