What is a Calcutta in Golf? Golfing Terms Explained For Everyone

Placing a friendly wager on a golf game and receiving prizes after a golf day is nothing new to golfers.

The prize money offered under these circumstances is insignificant compared to what is at stake when you get involved with Calcutta in golf.

What is a Calcutta in golf? I hear you ask.

In simple terms, a Calcutta is an auction-pool wagering system in golf that goes by a variety of names such as ‘Golf Calcutta’, ‘Calcutta auction’, or ‘Calcutta sweepstakes’. It is used at some tournaments, and not just in golf.

In golf, a Calcutta is most common at a tournament featuring 4-person teams, however, a Calcutta can be held in conjunction with any type of golf tournament.

There are no set rules for how a Calcutta auction operates and it can be bent based on some core rules. Make sure you are knowledgeable on the rules that apply to the tournament that you bet on.

In simplest terms, a golf Calcutta works like this:

  • Golfers bid, auction-style, on the golfer or team they think will win the tournament. Usually you can bid on yourself and your team.
  • The highest bid will win the team/golfer.
  • Funds raised through the “auction” goes into the pool.
  • The owners of the tournament winner(s) receive a predetermined payout from the auction pool.

As the exact rules of a Calcutta auction can vary between tournaments, odds and payouts are frequently determined by gambling software applications.

Payouts are most commonly paid to the first and second-placed team owners. Other options are for 3-place and or the 5-place payout system.

When only the first and second paces are paid out the split is generally 70% for first place and 30% for second place.

3-paced winnings are generally split on a 70%, 20%, and 10% basis.

Splitting a 5-place is a little more complicated with the owner of the winning team frequently getting 50% of the auction pool while the rest of the pool is split in decreasing percentages starting at 20% reduced by 5% for every place.

To enable golfers to share in the prize money it is possible, depending on the rules that are in play, for a golfer to buy back a percentage of himself or his team from the winning bidder. The cost of the purchase is based on a pro-rata percentage of the original purchase price.

Calcutta’s as Charity Fundraisers

Calcutta auctions are not just used for self-interest betting. They are frequently used at tournaments to raise funds for charities.

Money raised under these circumstances may go to the charity selected by the winning bidder or the auction pool can be split between the owner and the charity based on a predetermined percentage split.

Tournament organizers set the rules and limits for fundraising purposes.

How to Run A Golf Calcutta?

Running a Calcutta golf tournament is a fairly straightforward process.

  • Select the participants in the tournament. Golfers, golf course, and auction participants.
  • Determine the tournament format. A Calcutta is typically an 18-hole, stroke-play tournament.
  • Prepare the auction event by making information available on all of the participating teams.
  • Run the auction process to allow guests to purchase a participating team.
  • Enable golfers to compete for the duration of the tournament.
  • Upon completion of the tournament, winnings must be paid out to winning owners.

Relatively substantial amounts, sometimes even exceeding $30,000, are involved thus luring some unsavory characters. These characters are often involved with shenanigans that may not normally find their way into the country club grill room.

In terms of professional golf, the auction pools are minute, but for amateurs, it is a huge incentive to partake.

Calcutta Golf Betting Strategy

You should do some research before becoming involved with a Calcutta golf auction.

Know the Payouts

Knowing how many teams will be receiving payouts can influence your betting decision. If only the winning team receives prize money, your betting should be vastly different from when up to 5 teams receive a payout.

It would be advisable to determine upfront whether the full pool will be paid to a charity or what percentage will be paid out to punters.

In a charity even that pays the complete pool to the charity, the winning teams typically receive prizes that have been donated, supplied by sponsored companies, or the golf club.

A good strategy to maximize your payout is to pay less for a team that is not likely to win if the payout goes to multiple teams but a bad strategy when only one team is getting paid out.

Study the Players

Researching the players before the auction will save you money and some tears.

Investigate their handicaps to determine whether they have a steady history or if there are sudden spikes or drops around competition time.

It would furthermore be advisable to investigate their performance during tournaments to see if there is any manipulation of their handicaps.

Doing the investigation will assist you when deciding on the player or team to acquire at the auction.

Why You Should Try it?

Calcutta in golf has nothing to do with your golfing ability and rates high on the betting scale.

Anyone with a good eye for talented golfers and has done some homework on the golfers involved, stand a chance of winning.

Due to the amounts of money wagered, the system is in a way open to manipulation. Unlikely as it may be in the gentlemen’s sport of golf, no-one expected it to happen in a team game like cricket either.

This is a clever way of raising money for charity though and you could experiment with this on your next golf day.

Why You Should Not Participate?

Amateur players are not allowed to compete for prizemoney under the rules of the USGA, but they are allowed to partake in gambling.

This blurs the lines for the USGA whether the golfers are playing for prize money or whether the golfers are gambling.

If it is important for you to retain your amateur status for whatever reason, it would be prudent for you to stay clear from any Calcutta in golf.

The USGA’s policy on gambling states that participating in a Calcutta can put amateur status at risk.

According to USGA Rule 7-2 Conduct Contrary to the Purpose of the Rules, advises that an amateur golfer must not act in a manner that is detrimental to the best interests of the amateur game or take any action, including actions relating to golf gambling, that is contrary to the purpose and spirit of the Rules.

Decisions 7-2/2, 7-2/3, and 7-2/4 provide clarity around involvement with Calcutta. Particularly decision 7-2/2

An “auction sweepstake” or “Calcutta” is a form of gambling or wagering in which the players or teams are sold by auction beforehand to the highest bidder. Bidding is not restricted to the players and each player or team is generally offered the right to purchase a percentage of the bet from the successful bidder before play commences. An auction sweepstake or Calcutta can often involve considerable sums of money and such gambling or wagering is considered contrary to the purpose and intent of the Rules

Final Thoughts

Participating in a Calcutta can be an enjoyable and profitable experience in a sport that steers away from paying amateurs any prize money.

Research the parties involved before you put any money into the auction and stay away from unsavory characters that may be involved.

Lastly, if your amateur status is important to you, stay well clear of a Calcutta, or you may find yourself categorized as a professional golfer.

I hope you enjoyed and found this article informative when you are offered an opportunity to get involved with a Calcutta at your next golf fundraising opportunity.

If you have any questions or comments on this topic, please place it in the comments below.

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