Every day, somewhere around the world, four golfers stand on the first tee and try to decide on a suitable bet for everyone. Whether it’s well-known gambling games like skins, or you’re playing for prizemoney in a Saturday comp, you might be curious to know what the Rules of Golf says about gambling.

But before we get to that, keep in mind that what you think is a harmless bet could actually violate some state or federal laws.

But why are we bringing this up when informal gambling happens every day? Especially given that even on one of our country’s most sacred celebrations – Anzac Day – hundreds of thousands of Aussies try their luck at two-up.  Well, it’s because two-up isn’t governed by an overarching body like the R & A.

The R&A doesn’t object to informal wagering among individual golfers or teams of golfers when it’s incidental to the game.

However, “organised events designed or promoted to create cash prizes are not permitted.”

Here’s a quick review of what is and isn’t acceptable gambling…

Acceptable gambling:

  • The players, in general, know each other.
  • Participation is optional and is limited to the players.
  • The money wagered is provided by the players.
  • The amount of money is not generally considered to be excessive.

 Not acceptable:

  • Participation in the wagering is mandatory.
  • Non-players being able to participate in the wagering (including auction-format gambling).
  • Any type of gambling that could lead to abuse of the rules or handicapping to the detriment of golf’s integrity.
  • Any event where the amount gambled is excessive.


Q: In stroke play, how many shots would you be penalised if you hit a ball that came to rest out-of-bounds and, not realising it was out-of-bounds, played the ball?

A: Three strokes. You incur a two-shot penalty for playing a wrong ball (Rule 15-3). You’re assessed a stroke-and-distance penalty for the previous shot that went out-of-bounds. (Rule 27-1). Go back to the spot where you hit it, and play on.

Golf Rules

Did you know… No one likes a tie, but if a match is halved, you can’t decide the winner by stroke play. Conversely, if you “kiss your sister” in stroke play, you can’t use match play to decide the winner (rule 33-6).