In a recent post, I mentioned a big money golf match. I know there are different views about betting whilst golfing. My own is that if you want to become a better player, gambling during your friendly golf games can help. Those five-foot putts aren’t so easy, regardless of whether you have one hundred or a thousand baht (two or three, or twenty to thirty US dollars) riding on the outcome.
When looking at the photo left, taken at Phuket Country Club last week, one can only dream of what games are imaginable on the golf course to make this already fun sport, even more interesting.
Gambling on the golf course in Thailand is widespread and – for the most part – adds to the fun and excitement of the game. The different gambling games and their variations are almost limitless.
Playing partner-matches in a foursome is the most entertaining way to gamble on the golf course. You can keep the same partner for 18 holes, or change every six holes. This is called a Round Robin. Both matches are popular in Thailand.
Match Play (low ball wins the hole) is the normal format when two players are partners against the other two in their foursome. The most common bet across this country (known as a Nassau in the USA) is where you play the front nine for a set amount (say, 100 baht), the back nine for the same amount, and the entire 18 holes also for the same amount. That’s three separate bets over 18 holes, and any of the matches can be ‘pressed’ (start a new bet on the next hole) at any time. However, most foursomes employ the rule that you can’t press until you’re dormie (down by the same number of holes left to play) or have lost. Often, each member of the four-ball will also pay a nominal amount to anyone in the group achieving a birdie, or any other exceptional feat, for example a par after being in a bunker (a “sandy par”).
In addition to the Nassau, foursomes can play for points on the side. This adds drama and it’s a lot of fun. You can start for a minimal amount a point, say 10 baht (30 cents) and the team that’s behind can double the points whenever they want to. After the front nine, the price of the points reverts to where it was when you started. Points can be doubled more than once, so it’s wise to be cautious when setting the price-per-point at the start the match. If you start at 10 baht a point and double the points three times, you’re playing the last hole for 80 baht (or around two US dollars a point). You can lose all five points on a hole and that adds up to 400 baht (or around US$10) real quick. And that’s just one hole.
The sort of points you can play for include: Low Ball – on any hole the player who has the low ball wins a point for himself and his partner. High Ball – if a player has the highest score in the foursome, he loses a point for himself and his partner on that particular hole. Birdie – when a player makes a birdie, he wins two points (birdie and low ball) for himself and his partner. This assumes, of course, that there is just one birdie on the hole. Proxy – the player closest to the pin in regulation. Sneaker – if you get up and down from off the green for a par, you win a point for your team.
If you’re playing handicaps, make sure it’s clear on the first tee that any birdie you get with the aid of a stroke counts the same as a natural birdie; otherwise, you’re being hustled. It’s important to keep the stakes modest unless the players have plenty of money and like the excitement of competing for high stakes. There’s nothing wrong with that if you know what you’re getting into on the first tee, and you’re comfortable with the amounts involved. Don’t ever allow yourself to be embarrassed into playing for more money than you can afford to lose comfortably.
Remember, golf is a game to enjoy, so here is with the options for betting while golfing in Thailand. Now it is time to take these games and bring them to your favorite links. If anyone has any of their own golf gaming variations or experiences, please post a comment here or if you prefer you can contact me at my Thailand golf vacation company.