- Melanie Bedrosian
Care to Make a Wager?
Take a Gamble on Your Golf Game
LPGA Legends Tour Professional Elaine Crosby helps you keep it interesting out on the course...If you play a lot of golf, especially a lot of golf with the same people, it might be time to shake things up a bit. Sure it’s nice to shoot the best score, but wouldn’t it be great if you earned a little smack along the way? Or maybe you’re not always the best golfer, but you have moments of brilliance…you should be rewarded! Nothing adds spice to that weekly round among friends like a $2 bet on the next nine holes.
Just ask Elaine Crosby, LPGA Tour veteran and Legends Tour champion. She’s been playing professional golf for 25 years, but she credits her side bets for keeping that change purse in her golf bag well-stocked with beer money. We asked Elaine to let us in on the action. Read on to learn more about what you can do out on the course to keep it interesting.
What betting games do you typically play with your buddies? Briefly describe the rules of each.
Elaine: We usually do Nassau. In this game, each nine is its own bet. There’s also an 18 hole bet. So basically there are three bets. You can play match play, which is more fun, or each nine can be stroke play, but that’s not as much fun. If you are playing match play, and someone has a higher handicap, the higher handicapper gets strokes on the appropriate holes according to the scorecard. As we play the first nine, say I go up 2 holes and we make it to the ninth hole. At that point, I win the front nine. However, you might kill me on the back, maybe take a 3- up lead with 2 holes to go, so you win the back nine. Because you are also up in the overall match, you win the 18 hole bet, too. You win two bets, I win one. The dollar amount can vary widely. Usually, the front and the back are the same and the 18 might be more. If someone says “let's play 5-5-10”, that would mean the front and back are worth $5.00, but the 18 is worth $10.00. In the above case, I won $5.00 on the front, you won $5.00 on the back and $10.00 for the overall match. Our $5.00 bets were a wash; you net $10.00!
Another game we play is called “quota.” We play this when we have even skilled teams. ABCD players. You must use a pre-determined amount of scores per nine. For example you might play 3-3-3. You have to count 3 holes of one score, 3 holes of two scores and 3 holes of three scores. This can vary greatly. You might play 2 1's, 3 2's, 3 3's and 1 4...if I was a math major I could tell you all the different variations! Usually what we do is everyone puts in a dollar amount then play it like a Nassau, front, back and 18.
What does it mean to "press?"
Elaine: You press when you are behind in the match. Maybe you have your good holes coming up, or maybe you get strokes, or you think you are “finding your game”...so you start another bet from that point on. It can be for the rest of the nine or the 18. Let’s say I'm down by 2 after 4 holes. I decide to “press.” For the last 5 holes, there is a new bet in addition to the old one. So if the front is worth $5.00, then I start another bet, that one is worth $5.00, too. Now if I go up in the match, then you decide to press, say on the 8th hole, a third press can start for the last 2 holes. Often, if a team or individual is down on the last hole of a nine, they will press, hoping to win the hole and negate the bet they already lost.
How much is too much to bet?
Elaine: Too much is what you can't afford to lose, and these days that might be anything! Have you ever lost? Under what circumstances? Elaine: Sure I've lost, and often it's because I always have to give strokes. People sometimes cheat on their handicaps…did you know that?
Without being dollar specific, describe in material goods how much you have won over the years playing these little games?
Elaine: I would say, over the years I probably haven't won more than a TV. Somehow at the end of the year, it's pretty close in the win loss column. I have a little purse in my bag for the winning and the losing, so I have a pretty good idea how I'm doing. Though sometimes, when I can't get to the bank, I have to use that money for beer!
What is the best advice you can give to someone who is asked to engage in gambling on the golf course? Elaine: Keep it friendly! If you don't know the person, don't get involved. There are people out there who will try to take your money...