Many golfers love to play games within the game. What does that mean? Rather than just having a competition based on total score, as is traditional in golf, there are countless ‘mini games’ which have popped up over the years.
For countless golfers, the competition that these games provide is one of the driving factors for getting out on the course.
If you have a regular golf group which would like to add some mini games to your weekly routine, we have collected a few of the most popular options below.
Of course, there are no hard-and-fast rules with these mini games, so feel free to customize them to meet your needs.
This is possibly the most popular mini game of all. Skins is a golf competition which is played on a per-hole basis, rather than waiting to add up the scores at the end of the day.
The beauty of this game is the simplicity – it only takes a few minutes to understand the game clearly, and then you can just enjoy the competition it creates.
In a typical skins game, each hole is worth one ‘skin.’ The low score on the hole wins the skin, and the skins are carried over from hole to hole if there is a tie.
Let’s walk through an example to make this concept clear:
- On the first hole, two of the four players in your group make a par, which ties for the low score on the hole. No one is awarded a skin.
- On the second hole, all four players make a bogey. Again, no skin.
- On the third hole, one player cards a birdie, while the rest make par or worse. Since there were two skins carried over, plus the skin for the third hole, the player making the birdie is awarded three skins.
The game continues this way for the rest of the round. You will need to decide what to do with the skins that are left if the last hole of the round is a tie. It is common to have a chipping or putting contest after the round to settle those skins.
This isn’t necessarily a ‘mini game’ so much as it is a different way to keep score.
Rather than counting each stroke over the course of a round, you are going to earn points based on the score you record on individual holes. At the end of the round, the player with the greatest number of points wins.
The nice thing about this game is the fact that you can customize the scoring system to match the skill level of the players in your group. For example, you might award one point for a bogey, two points for a par, three points for a birdie, and five points for an eagle. If you make a double bogey or worse, no points are awarded (or lost).
This style of scoring rewards aggressive play because making a double bogey is effectively no different than making a 9 or 10.
Bingo, Bango, Bongo
This game has a silly name, but it is a great option for groups with players of varying skill levels. You will accumulate points throughout the round, with three points being available on each hole.
The points are given out as follows:
- Bingo – Point awarded to the first player to get the ball on the green
- Bango – Point awarded to the player closest to the hole once all balls are on the green
- Bongo – Point awarded to the player who is able to put his or her ball into the hole first
It is important in this game to stick to honors, allowing the person farthest from the hole to play first. At the end of the day, the player who has accumulated the greatest number of points will be the winner.
If you chose to play an alternate shot match, you won’t have your own score to record for the day – but you will probably have a lot of fun on the course.
Playing alternate shot requires a level of cooperation that is not present in other golf team games. This works just as it sounds – you alternate shots with your partner, and the team you are playing against does the same.
You will alternate tee shots with your partner, so that each of you plays first on nine of the 18 holes. At the end of the round, the team with the lower total score comes away the winner.
Best Ball (AKA “Four-Ball”)
For those with a regular foursome which plays together week after week, best ball is one of the top options for a team game. The beauty of best ball is that you can have a team competition while still playing your own ball from tee to green on every hole. That means you still come away with an individual score, and you also get to have the fun of working with a partner to win a match.
In best ball, you will pair up with one other player in your group, and the two of you will play against the other two players. Within your partnership, the better score on the hole is going to count for the team.
If you make a four on the first hole, and your partner makes a five, your team score is four. This continues on for the duration of the round, and the low score wins in the end. Or, if you wish, you can play best ball on a match play basis, where you play for the greatest number of holes rather than lowest total score for the round.
This is not to be confused with a “scramble” format where two (or more) players work together selecting the best shot from the group and everyone proceeding to play from that shot. In a scramble, individual scores are not recorded.
The key when picking a mini game is to select something that works for your group. When you have players of a similar skill level, it should be pretty easy to settle on a game that will lead to a good time. With a variety of abilities, however, you will have to work a little harder to even the playing field. Either use handicaps to balance things out, or creating pairings of better/weaker players to come up with balanced teams.
Regardless of the game you pick, have fun out there!
Do you have a favorite golf mini game not mentioned here? If so, be sure to post the details in the comments below.