Wolf Golf Rules and Strategies for a Profitable Round

By Nick Heidelberger

Golfer tees off while friends watch

In Wolf, you’ll be the “Wolf” once every four holes. As the Wolf, you will tee off first then watch your partners tee off one-by-one and immediately decide to select them as your partner for the hole, wait for someone else to hit a better tee shot, or play as a Lone Wolf.

There’s nothing quite like a game of Wolf to transform your routine round of golf into a thrilling, pressure-packed banter-fest. That group you hear hollering, howling, and cheering from three fairways away? There’s a good chance they’re in the midst of a game of Wolf for the ages.

How to Play

Once you decide on a monetary value for each point, and a permanent hitting rotation, you’re ready to play. The hitting order will rotate each hole, so if the order is A-B-C-D on the first hole, it’ll be B-C-D-A on the second, C-D-A-B on the third, and so on. Once you get to the 17th hole, each person will have been the Wolf four times, and you can either let the person with the lowest point total on the 17th and 18th tee be the Wolf, or give the A and B one extra turn.

The Wolf is the first player to tee off on every hole, regardless of the traditional honors system. After hitting their tee shot, the Wolf will watch the second player in the group tee off and must decide before the third player tees off whether or not to select the second player as their teammate for the hole. Should the Wolf choose to forego the second player, he or she again must decide whether or not to select the third player before the final player in the foursome tees off. You get the idea.

Each hole is worth one point per player and best-ball (four ball) scoring is used to determine the winning team on each hole. The team’s score is the lowest net score of either team member on the hole. The team with the lower score wins the hole, and each team member gets one point. In the event of a tie, no points are awarded for the hole, and there are no carryovers in Wolf.

Lone Wolves

Just like in the wild, there are lone wolves in golf. After watching the group tee off, the Wolf can simply choose to take on all three players alone, with points doubling in this situation. To make things even more interesting, the Wolf can declare his or her intention to play as a Lone Wolf prior to anybody teeing off, in which case points are tripled. This helps explain all that hootin’ and hollerin’ three fairways away.

Scoring

The point-allocation in Wolf is as follows:

2-vs-2: 1 point per player for the winning team

1-vs-3: 2 points per player for the winning team; potentially six points for the solo player, or two each for the threesome

1-vs-3 Lone Wolf: 3 points per player for the winning team; potentially nine points for the Lone Wolf, or three each for the threesome

Adding it Up

Throughout your round, keep track of how many points each player earns on each hole. When you’re finished, add up each player’s total and collect (or pay) the difference.

Example: After a game of Wolf, Wendy has 12 points, Oscar has 10, Lorena has eight and Fred has six.

Fred: Owes Lorena 2, Oscar 4 and Wendy 6 (-12 total)
Lorena: Owes Oscar 2 and Wendy 4; collects 2 from Fred (-4 total)
Oscar: Owes Wendy 2; collects 2 from Lorena and 4 from Fred (+4)
Wendy: Collects 2 from Oscar, 4 from Lorena and 6 from Fred (+12)

How to Win in Wolf

Like any game, players can employ some tactical maneuvers to help stack the odds in their favor. Here are a few strategies you might want to consider:

When to Play as a Lone Wolf

Taking on three other players by yourself inherently comes with some risk, but by choosing your spots strategically, you can take advantage of the double or triple points that accompany that risk.

If one or more of your playing partners finds trouble off the tee, be it a penalty area, out of bounds, or just a tricky spot that will require a recovery shot to get back into play, it may be a green light to go it alone. After all, you’ll essentially only be fighting a 1-on-2 battle from there, which is much more manageable.

Even riskier than choosing to play alone after the rest of your group hits is electing to be a Lone Wolf before anyone (including yourself!) tees off. This risk, however, comes with the potential for nine points to come your way (triple points X three players). Obviously, you’ll only want to do this when you have extreme confidence going into a hole, but also consider any trouble on the hole, or the potential reward for a great tee shot. If there’s out-of-bounds or a penalty area on the hole, one or more of your partners may find the trouble and be out of the hole almost immediately. On a par 3, you’ll only need to hit one great shot to have a good chance at stealing the hole.

Be Aware of Handicaps

As mentioned above, the winning team in Wolf is the team with the lowest net four ball score on a hole, and full handicap allocations are in play. Knowing who in your group gets a stroke on which holes is key. If a player getting a stroke stripes his or her tee shot down the middle of the fairway, it might be a good idea to secure that advantage for your team.

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