How to Play Nassau

By Contributing Writer

Nassau is the most popular and most played golf tournament format. Consisting of three separate matches, the Nassau works well with both stroke and match play formats, and with or without handicaps. For a Nassau, the three basic matches include the front nine, the back nine, and one for all 18 holes. What makes Nassau the game of choice for so many is the ability to easily add additional matches through what is called a "press." Designed to ensure the match is not over until the final hole, the press allows the trailing team to move to double or nothing at some agreed upon point within the match.


Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Establish the stakes. Most often played in pairs, Nassau is often referred to as "2 and 2" with the second two referring to the agreed upon wager for each match ($2.00, two brews, two balls).
Step 2
Compete to earn top honors for the front nine (using stroke or match play, with or without handicaps).
Step 3
Award the player (or team) taking top honors for the front nine the agreed-upon stakes.
Step 4
Compete to earn top honors for the back nine (maintaining play format).
Step 5
Award the player/team taking top honors for the back nine the agreed-upon stakes.
Step 6
Compare cards to determine the player/team earning top honors for the entire 18-hole match.
Step 1
Establish the stakes for each of the three matches, the front nine, the back nine, and the full 18.
Step 2
Establish the pressing rules for the match.
Step 3
Establish the pressing stakes (since double or nothing, pressing stakes generally match the original).
Step 1
Allow a team to press only when one of the original matches has been lost; or
Step 2
Allow a team to press at any time one team is losing; or
Step 3
Allow a team that is behind to press only on the last four holes of each nine; or
Step 4
Allow a team to press a specific number of times (for example, once per nine or per 18 really limits pressing while once or twice per match each of the three separate matches is the preferred option).

Tips & Warnings

Remember, pressing is what makes Nassau the game of choice for so many players. The match and thus the wager is never over until the final hole is complete.
Establishing pressing rules is essential--unless side matches are limited to some extent, determining the overall winner can be virtually impossible. Players also must enjoy the competition as the self-imposed pressure will test a golfer's nerve.

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