Keeping the Spark Alive
From the fresh air to the camaraderie, not to mention the potential to score an ace or sink a seemingly impossible putt, there really is no sport quite like golf.
Yet, no matter how much golfers enjoy the game, they can become bored by the standard nine or 18-hole format. However, this boredom can be relieved by spicing things up a bit—through the following games and formats.
Best Ball. As made popular by the Ryder Cup, Best Ball is typically played amongst foursomes—often two on two—as each golfer hits his or her own golf ball, but only counts one score, whichever is the lowest for each respective hole. The format provides an alternative to regulation play, yet, unlike scrambles, golfers are able to determine exactly how they would have scored on that given day.
Bingo, Bango, Bongo! To practice in a fun, unusual manner, golfers can also play an in-round points game that challenges them to hit precise approach shots. Players receive “bingos” if they hit their approaches on the green before the rest of their playing partners, “bangos” if their ball is closest to the hole (once everyone is on the green), and “bongos” if they hole out first. Points are tallied throughout the golfers’ nine or 18-hole rounds.
Cha Cha Cha. As is the case with Best Ball, golfers play their own balls throughout their rounds. But here’s the catch. On the first hole, known as “cha,” only the lowest score of the foursome is added towards the group’s total team score. On the second hole, “cha cha,” the two lowest scores are added to the team’s aggregate score. And then on the third hole, known as “cha cha cha,” the three lowest scores are added to the total. This rotation then starts all over again until the cycle is finally completed on the 18th hole.
Modified Stableford. Unlike virtually any other golfing format, the objective of the Modified Stableford is to shoot the highest score possible, all while trying to avoid bogies and double bogies. Much like the PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship, golfers lose points for scores above par and earn points for scores below par. Golfers can award as many points for birdies and such as they’d like, but, on the PGA Tour itself, professionals earn two points for birdies, five points for eagles, and eight points for the ultra-rare albatross.
Money Ball. Another game created specifically for foursomes, money ball’s premise is quite simple. On every hole, one member of a foursome plays the “money ball,” as his or her score must be combined with the lowest score of the other three playing partners—no matter how high it may be. Each hole features a different “money ball” player so that every member of the foursome has a virtually equal opportunity to contribute his or her scores to the team’s total.
Pick-up Sticks. If golfers are interested in testing their course management skills, not to mention their patience, they should consider playing Pick-up Sticks, a match play competition for twosomes or foursomes. Whenever a golfer (or a team) wins a hole, they can choose one club to remove from their opponent’s or opponents’ bags, which cannot be used again until the match is completed, forcing them to be more creative than usual.
Round Robin. Also known as six-six-six or sixes, Round Robin requires foursomes to divide into two groups and rotate playing partners every six holes. As a result, when all is said and done, everyone partners with each member of their foursome prior to the completion of their 18-hole rounds. Although it is not required, foursomes often place bets during each six-hole stretch.
Snake. When golfers play Snake, there is no such thing as a “gimme.” They are required to tap in every single putt, even if it is just a two-footer. And if they have three or more putts on a green, they will add a certain amount of money to a “pot.” Once their round is completed, a foursome will determine which golfer recorded the most three-putt greens. He or she must then pay their playing partners the total amount of money that was added to the pot throughout the round.
Skins. For 25 years, the PGA Tour’s Skins Game was an annual tradition, featuring some of the world’s most popular golfers. Although it is no longer contested on the PGA Tour, golfers can now begin their own traditions—by playing skins games with their friends. As was the case on the PGA Tour, each hole is worth a “skin,” generally a specific dollar amount. If no golfer wins a hole, the “skin” (whatever it is valued at) is carried over to the next hole, and so forth, until someone shoots the lowest score and collects all the skins.
Wolf. Created only for foursomes, this format allows a golfer, who is considered the “wolf,” to either play against his or her playing partners or partner up with one golfer, resulting in a two-on-two competition. The wolf’s objective, of course, is to shoot the lowest net score and collect points, whether alone or with a partner. On each hole, the “wolf” is the last player to tee off; the teeing order rotates on every hole, offering golfers an opportunity to be the “wolf” once every four holes.
St. Croix National has created an actual 19th hole right outside their clubhouse and adjacent to their patio. Players can pay $5.00 to take a shot at the green, downhinll about 125 yards. Hole in one gets a free membership for a year. Hit the green and you are in a raffle to win prizes.
Provides a great opportunity for players to stay and drink and spend after their round.