This golf gambling game is perfect for on-course ‘social distancing’

March 20, 2020
Golf ball approaches hole

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Due to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, golf has suddenly become the sports world’s last frontier, however improbable that might sound. It’s distant, it’s outdoors, and you can play without much risk, so long as you take proper precaution. Even golf courses are making adjustments to holes, pins and pro shops in an effort to promote safe, healthy play.

From a distance, it might seem “playing it safe” exists in conflict with playing for money. While golf gambling games are largely played in teams or tandems, practicing safe social distancing means remaining as far as possible from your fellow player(s) on the course.

Even if it’s not a great idea to reboot your scramble just yet, you’re not entirely out of luck. There are plenty of gambling games you can play at a safe distance from your buddies, including this week’s spotlight, Devil Ball.

The Big Picture

In Devil Ball, each foursome is a team. The game is best played between two or more foursomes (overall scores are tabulated after the completion of the round). In this game, one player is selected as the “devil ball” per hole. The devil ball then combines their score with the lowest tally of the remaining three players to get the team score for the hole. At the end of the round, the team with the lowest score wins.

The Catches

If the devil ball also has the lowest score on the hole, the team cannot count the devil ball twice. Teams must use a combination of the devil ball’s score and the score of the remaining three players. As you can imagine, scores can add up quickly if the devil ball has a blow-up on a specific hole.

The Money

Before the round begins, teams should agree on an amount for each player to contribute to the pot. Generally, the accepted amount is $25 per player/$100 per team, but teams can individually decide to adjust as they see fit. When the round is over, the pot is distributed equally to the four members of the winning team. Some games will also have a second-place prize, which is typically the cost of a team’s buy-in.

Who’s the devil ball?

The order for the devil ball is chosen on the first tee. On every hole, the devil ball rotates to a different member of the team. The final two holes are wild card choices, with each team picking their devil ball for the hole when they reach the tee box.

Why you should try it

Devil Ball is the perfect game for golfers who are social distancing. Players in foursomes and large groups aren’t forced to make any more contact than they would in an average round of stroke play, but can still participate in a fun, competitive challenge.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and add some risk-free spice to your next round. Who knows, when it’s all said and done, your Venmo might thank you! Safe playing!

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