The 13 Best Golf Games to Change Things Up on the Course

Updated April 20, 2023
Golfer playing a competition with friends
    Golfer playing a competition with friends
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Whether you’re looking for a little friendly competition or a serious money game, there’s no shortage of golf games that you can play within your group, or even when you're playing as a single.

Here are 13 of the best golf games to bring an extra layer of competition to your otherwise pedestrian round of golf. To help you find the perfect game for your your, we catgorized each of these as either Welcoming, Competitive, Rowdy, or Different, depending on the tone it sets.

Welcoming games are great for newer golfers, or when there is a wide range of skillsets among golfers in the group.

Competitive games are ideal when you want to ratchet up the pressure and competitive juices.

Rowdy games are perfect when you're looking to have a great time, and may even include indulge in some music and beverages throughout your round.

Different games are simply a great way to chage up the routine round. 


Match Play

Players 1-4
Vibe Competitive

The easiest change up from stroke play, match play takes into account a little more strategy and can be a lot of fun. Match Play is a head-to-head format that can be played one-on-one or as teams of two.

Instead of marking strokes, you mark holes won. Tied holes have no value awarded to either side.

The match is finished when the winning individual or team leads by more holes than remain to be played. 

You can even play match play as a single by playing against the course using your course handicap.

Will Zalatoris Viktor Hovland shake hands

Complete Guide to Match Play in Golf (Plus Winning Strategies!)


Players 2-plus
Vibe Competitive

Skins is a fun competition that technically can be played as a twosome or threesome, but playing with four brings out some of the best results. One of the best aspects of a skins game is that even if you’re not having the best day on the golf course, one good hole can change your luck.

Assign point values for each hole, and a dollar value for each point. Each hole could be worth one point, or holes could be worth more points based on difficulty or when they fall in the round, with the closing holes worth the most.

The winner of a hole gets that hole’s “skin" and skins carry over to the next hole when two or more players tie on a hole. When multiple holes carry over and the hole you’re playing is worth a lot of points, things get really interesting. It’s on these holes that serious momentum shifts occur.

A skins game is also great for large tournaments or parties with multiple groups playing.

Four golfers teeing off

Golf Skins Game: Everything You Need to Know


Players 4
Vibe Rowdy

Wolf is a great golf game to play with four players. It brings out the confidence in each player and is one of the only games in which teams vary from hole to hole.

Wolf begins by determining the order in which the group tees off on the first hole. It’s important to note the order on the scorecard as it’s easy to lose track of the order later in the round.

On the first tee, the first player to tee off is the Wolf for that hole. After hitting their tee shot, the Wolf can elect to play agains the other three golfers as a Lone Wolf for that hole. If Lone Wolf is elected, that individual is playing alone against the other three players and the hole is then worth triple the amount of points.

Lone Wolf must be declared before seeing the second player tee off. After seeing the second player tee off, the Wolf determines if they will partner with that player before the third player tees off, and the same applies to the fourth player.

If the Wolf does not make a partner selection after the third player tees off, they are automatically paired with the fourth player. Two teams of two then compete for the point on that hole. Once all tee shots are hit and teams are determined, the lowest score on the hole wins that point for the team or Lone Wolf. Ties do not carry over.

On the next hole, the second player in the order is now the Wolf and the above rules continue. Remember that the Wolf alternates every hole and the Wolf always tees off first. At the end of the round, the player with the most points is the winner.

Golfer celebrates making a putt

Wolf Golf Game: Official Rules (+How to Win!)


Players 4
Vibe Rowdy

Vegas, much like the city itself, is high stakes and a golf gambler’s dream. The game consists of teams of two and instead of adding scores together, you pair them.

Vegas golf game scoring explained
    Vegas golf game rules

For example, Bob makes a 3, and his playing partner, John, makes a 4, their team score for the hole becomes 34. Their opponents make a 4 and 5, their score is 45. Subtract the smaller score from the larger score and award that number of points to the team that won the hole. For that hole, Bob and John get 11 points, the difference between 45 and 34.

What happens when a birdie drops? You flip the bird, of course. When one team makes a birdie, they can flip their opponent's score so the higher number is first. If you make a 4 and a 5 on a Par-5 and your opponents make a 5 and 6, they’ll have to take a 65 instead of 56.

Las Vegas golf course

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Players Any
Vibe Different, Welcoming

Stableford is the ultimate risk versus reward scoring system in golf.

Stableford is a point system, and unlike most golf games, the high score wins. Instead of tracking strokes, Stableford scoring assigns a point value to each score and the better you play, the more points you earn. Point values are based on a fixed target score, which is normally par. Points are earned on each hole and at the end of the round the highest score wins.

Stableford Scoring
Score Stableford Modified Stableford
Albatross 5 8
Eagle 4 5
Birdie 3 2
Par 2 0
Bogey 1 -1
Double Bogey 0 -3
Golf scoreboard with Stableford system

How the Stableford Scoring System Works: Standard and Modified Rules

Alternate Shot

Players 4
Vibe Competitive

Alternate Shot is played in teams of two. In Alternat Shot, you need to trust, rely on, and carry your playing partner. Alternate Shot is one of the formats in the Ryder Cup.

Players alternate hitting each shot beginning with the opening tee shot of the round. The lowest team score on each hole wins. Ties to not carry over.

Playing Alternate Shot isn’t for everyone. You have to be able to deal with the pressure of not letting your partner down and coming through when important situations fall upon you.

woman watching golfers swing

How to Play Alternate Shot


Players 4-plus
Vibe Competitive
Other names Best Ball

Four-Ball is a simple but fun approach to playing as teams of two. You can play with your foursome, use the Four-Ball format for a large tournament, or anything in between.

Four-Ball scoring is simple. The team score for a hole is the lowest score made by either teammate. You can apply match play or stroke play format.

Four-ball allows for aggressive strategy based on what your playing partner has done and the position your competitors find themselves in.

Bingo Bango Bongo

Players 4
Vibe Welcoming

Bingo Bango Bongo can be a blast to play with two, three, or four players. It’s a point-based game with a total of 54 points up for grabs over 18 holes.

Bingo bango bongo scoring explained
    bingo bango bongo scoring explained

The key to Bingo Bango Bongo is to be first in all situations. The points available on each hole are:

  • Bingo:The bingo point is awarded to the first golfer to land their ball on the green.
  • Bango: Once all golfers are on the green, the bango point goes to the golfer whose ball is closest to the pin. Note: fringe does not count.
  • Bongo: The first golfer to hole their ball earns the bongo point.

There are several ways you can adjust the points before starting your round. Most commonly, if a player gets all points on a hole they are awarded six total points instead of three.

Designate one player keep track of points and call them out after each hole. Having multiple people trying to keep track of points can cause confusion.

bingo bango bongo golf game

Bingo Bango Bongo: Guide to This Unique Golf Game


Players 4-plus
Vibe Welcoming

If you’ve played in a golf outing, chances are you’ve used the Scramble format. It’s designed for the lowest scores possible, and keeps golf outings moving at a good pace of play.

The Scramble format is scored by strokes, but instead of counting individual strokes, your team combines to make each hole’s score.

  1. Each player hits their tee shot.
  2. The group decides which tee shot is in the best position.
  3. All golfers play their second shots from that tee shot. This shot selection is continued for every shot until the ball is holed.

The best strategy for a Scramble is usually to have your best player or longest hitter go towards the end of the rotation. This allows the players in the front end of the rotation to concentrate solely on getting the group in a safe position before the better players can unleash big drives or take aggressive lines to the hole.

Four golfers walk up a fairway

Golf's Scramble: Rules and Strategies for Playing (and Winning)


Players 2-plus
Vibe Competitive

Playing Nassau is a time-honored tradition for many golfers as it’s one of the most popular simple and golf games. This three-part game is fun because it allows players to recuperate after a tough front nine.

In a Nassau, there are separate wagers for the front nine, back nine, and the entire 18 holes. It can be played between individuals or teams and is made even more exciting by the press. Pressing is when the trailing individual or team elects to play a hole for double.

Nassau is a point-based game that has variations, but elements of Bingo Bango Bongo can be incorporated as well as just making each hole worth a specific amount of points.

Golfer holds a $20 bill towards the sky

Nassau Golf Game: Easy Rules & Key Strategies


Players 4-plus
Vibe Welcoming, Different

A fun alternative to a Scramble is the “Shamble” playing format.

  1. Each player tees off.
  2. Like a scramble, each player plays from the location of the best shot.
  3. From there, each player holes out their own ball.
  4. The best individual score becomes the group’s score for that hole.
Four golfers at tee box

Playing a Shamble Golf Format as a Fun Alternative


Players 4-plus
Vibe Welcoming, Different

The Chapman format is part Scamble and part Alternate Shot consisting of two teams of two.

Once the teams are settled have been determined, here’s how to play:

  1. Everybody tees off.
  2. Each player then hits their partner's ball on the second shot.
  3. Scramble format is used for the third shot. Teams choose which third shot is best, and both play from there.
  4. From this shot until the ball is holed, only one ball is in play per team, and Alternate Shot is used until the hole is completed. If you selected Player A's third shot, Player B plays the next shot.

Stroke Play

Players 1-plus
Vibe Competitive

Stroke play is the most basic format of golf in the United States, but if you've given each of the previous dozen games a try, it may feel like a refreshing change of pace.

Just add up the number of strokes over your round and the lowest score wins. It’s always fair to assign strokes to individual players based on handicaps.

golfer hitting from bunker

How to Play Stroke Play