The Sixes Golf Game: Rules & Strategies to Snatch the Cash

Updated May 13, 2022
Four golfers walking on course
    Four golfers walking on course
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The sixes golf game presents the perfect blend of team competition and individual bragging rights. You get to play with a teammate for all 18 holes, and at the end of it all, there’s one winner. Here’s how it works.

What is Sixes?

In sixes, your foursome splits into two teams of two, and the teams rotate every six holes. Throughout 18 holes each golfer is paired with every other player for six holes.

How to Play Sixes

Use four-ball match play scoring and rules to determine the winning and losing side on each hole during a sixes match. Here’s how to play:

  1. Set the rotation of the teams. For example, holes 1-6 will be Alex and Brianna against Chloe and David. Holes 7-12 will be Alex and Chloe vs. Brianna and David, and holes 13-18 will be Alex and David vs. Chloe and Brianna.
  2. Decide on a value for each dot. For example, $1 per dot. Each player will record one dot every time they win a hole. This is also a good time to agree if tied holes will be carried over to the next hole, or thrown away.
  3. Play golf! Use fourball scoring (low ball on each team is the team’s score) to determine which team wins each hole. If the team of Alex and Brianna each make 4 on the first hole while Chloe makes 5 and David makes 6, Alex and Brianna’s score is 4, Chloe and David’s score is 5, and Alex and Brianna each win one dot, Chloe and David are the losers of that hole.
  4. Be sure to rotate the teams on the seventh and 13th tees.

If you feel like spicing things up with a different format while keeping the six-hole team-rotation that sixes incorporates, you can combine the sixes rotation with many golf formats, including a scramble, alternate shot, Vegas, or other popular golf games. Use your imagination and have some fun.


Sixes Scoring

If you take proper notes of scores and winners on each hole throughout your round, scoring sixes is simple. However, if you defer these details until the 19th hole, it’ll require some extra brainpower to properly sort out who won and by how much. Here’s how to score sixes:

  1. Note on the scorecard which players are paired together on each set of holes. 
  2. In the hole-by-hole scores on the scorecard, make a note in the box (a heavy dot is an easy and common method) for each player who won a dot on that hole. 
  3. After the round add up the number of dots each player won and lost, and square up any bets.

Golf Sixes Rules

Assuming you’re playing a four-ball format for scoring your sixes match, the same rules of four-ball apply. Some of the key points to remember are:

  • Only one player on each side needs to record a score on each hole. If one player is “in their pocket” the other player’s score on that hole will automatically be the team score.
  • If neither player on a team records a score for that hole, the side loses the hole.
  • Because sixes is played within one group, “gimmies” are perfectly acceptable and encouraged when appropriate to promote good pace of play.

One of the great aspects of sixes is you don’t need to adjust your typical round to incorporate an extra element of fun, banter, and risk. Just play your round under the Rules of Golf as you normally would and track your sixes match along the way.


How to Win Sixes

Winning a hole in sixes is the same as winning a hole in four-ball match play. One player on your team needs to post a lower score than any player on the other side. Two of the best strategies you can use to do this are to observe when to be aggressive and when to be conservative, and to keep yourself in every hole as long as possible.

Be Observant

Pay attention to what the other players in your group are doing. If both players on the other team are in trouble off the tee, all you need to do is keep your ball in play and give yourself a good look at par and you’ve got a good chance of winning the hole. In this scenario there’s no reason to play aggressively or bring trouble into play.

On the other hand, if one or both of your opponents has hit a monster driver or an approach to kick-in range, it’s time to be aggressive. Playing it safe is unlikely to be rewarding. It’s time to give the ole driver a rip or go flag-hunting.

Also, take note of the tendencies of each player in your group. At some stage in the round, every player will be your teammate and your opponent. Keeping little mental notes can come in handy later in the round when judging how much risk you want to take on.


Keep Yourself in the Hole

How many times have you watched a Ryder Cup match that looked like one player had a huge advantage on a hole, only to see the opponent hole a long putt or convert an unlikely up-and-down? It seems to happen all the time. 

A hole is never over until it’s over, and just because the odds appear to be in your opponent's favor does not mean it’s time to panic. The best thing you can do is to stay calm and hit a good shot. You never know when that 40-foot putt will drop or when you’ll stick one to two feet from 150 yards out. Once you start giving up holes, it’s hard to regain control of the match.

Putt to Win

Get your putts to the hole. This is a great strategy for any round of golf, but for some reason, golfers struggle with it. In match play formats in particular, leaving putts short completely eliminates your chances of a holing a long momentum-swinging putt, or confidently stroking in that nervy five-footer. 

The player or team that holes the first putt, which usually means the longest putt, controls the psychology of the match, and that’s a massively underrated advantage. Make it a point to hit every putt with enough speed to roll 12-18 inches past the hole. That’s the ideal speed at which to hole putts.


Why Play Sixes?

Sixes is a great golf format because it allows every golfer to play their own ball and finish the day with a postable 18-hole score, while simultaneously incorporating a team element. On top of that, it levels the playing field by ensuring every possible tandem is paired up for six holes. If you’re having a rough stretch or you’re not vibing with your partner, you’re never far away from a reset.

And at the end of the day, there’s still one player who beats everyone else and takes home the bragging rights and a little more cash. What more could you ask for in a golf game?