As long as golf has been played, people have gambled on it.
We all do it, don’t we? Whether it’s a fiver in the pot in the clubhouse after a round or, for the more adventurous, skins on each hole.
The brilliant thing about betting on golf is that there are hundreds of variations that mean a round never need be dull.
Which leads us on to our word of the week….
NCG’s word of the week: Press
At its elementary level, a press is a second bet – usually put forward by a player who is trailing in an original wager.
Let’s take a simple bet we all play every week. The Americans call it a Nassau, and that’s a very succinct title.
You’ll know it better as front, back and overall.
Say you go out in a twoball and you’ve just finished the 5th. Your opponent has had a nightmare and is four points behind.
He’s not going to win the front 9 and he’s already in a bind for the overall. So what he does is enforce a press.
It’s a new bet and, in this case, can cover the holes from 6 to 9. We are now playing two bets on the outward stretch – one for the front and one from 6 to 9.
You are playing for £5 stakes. You might be out of sight in the first bet but, if he wins the second, you’ll make the turn tied and no money will change hands.
Let’s press on
There are no hard and fast rules on when and how to either request a press or to enforce it.
Some games have a mandatory press, such as when a player goes two down in matchplay.
When games have multiple presses that’s when you need some good record keeping – and a calculator – to work out who’s won what.
Another version, which has a press that doubles the size of the bet each time, can quickly cause losing players to tremble over a tricky putt.
Professional golfers bet pretty openly in practice rounds but just remember not to brag or break the code.
Phil Mickelson is one the game’s legendary gamblers but Australian teenager Ryan Ruffels did just that to the American’s feathers when alleging he took $5,000 off the five-time Major winner in a practice round.
The hall-of-famer was very displeased.
“He’s got some things to learn,” he said of Ruffels. “One of them is you don’t discuss certain things. You don’t discuss specifics of what you play for.
“And you certainly don’t embellish and create a false amount just for your own benefit. So those things right there are – that’s high school stuff, and he’s going to have to stop doing that now that he’s out on the PGA Tour.”
So, remember, next time you scoop up the cash, keep calm, do yourself a favour and get to the bar.