The Nassau golf game is one of the most basic and widely played betting games in golf. Since golf and betting go hand and hand, any golf fan will want to know this one.
What is Nassau in golf? In a Nassau game, golfers bet on the best score for the front nine, back nine, and 18 holes. The front nine and back nine are played as separate match-play games, with the lowest score winning each hole. The player who wins the most holes wins those legs. The overall game is played as stroke play with the lowest score winning.
But you can also make Nassau bets for any format, even in a scramble.
If you want to get the most enjoyment out of your round, then you won’t want to miss out on all the details about the Nassau game.
In this article you will learn:
- What is the Nassau Golf Game?
- What is the Origin of the Nassau?
- How Does Nassau Golf Work?
- Tips To Improve Your Nassau Golf Strategy
What is the Nassau Golf Game?
The Nassau betting game has got to be one of the most popular formats for making wagers on the course that there is. It’s essentially three bets in one. You’ll bet on:
- The lowest front nine score (who wins the most holes)
- The lowest back nine (who wins the most holes)
- The lowest 18-hole score (who has the lowest number of strokes)
One cool thing about golf is that players of vastly different ability levels can compete with each other through the handicap system. This makes it a great way to get to know your golfing buddies better.
Here are some additional details about the Nassau golf game:
- The Nassau can be played between two or more players.
- The players can either play as individuals or as teams.
- The Nassau can be played with or without handicaps.
- The Nassau can be played in any type of format, including stroke play, match play, or a combination of both
- The Nassau can also be referred to as Best Nines, 2-2-2 (referring to a $2 Nassau), and 5-5-5 (referring to a $5 Nassau)
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How To Play Nassau in Golf
Here’s how to play the standard Nassau golf game and how scoring works.
- First, players agree on the wager amount for each leg of the game. The most common denominations are $2, $5, or $10. Once the wagers have been established, the game begins.
- The front nine and back nine are played as separate match-play games. In match play, each hole is won by the player with the lower score. If the scores are tied, the hole is halved. The player who wins the most holes on the front nine and the back nine wins those legs of the game.
- The overall game is played as stroke play. In stroke play, the player with the lower total score for the entire round wins the game.
But you still have a chance even if you are losing a hole.
If a player is losing a leg of the game, they may offer a “press.” A press is a side bet that the player will win the remaining holes in that leg of the game. If the player wins the press, they win the amount of the press bet. If they lose the press, they lose the amount of the press bet.
However, before the “press” request, the winning player or team can refuse the offer.
But a refusal is rare. If a player or team is winning, they usually play well and are likely to feel confident that they can win a “press” challenge.
Pro Tip: For variations of the Nassau, you can select any play format (Individual stroke play, match play, team best ball, a scramble, etc.) and bet that way.
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What Are the Origins of the Nassau Bet in Golf?
So where did golf’s most famous betting game get its start? Could it be named after Nassau in the Bahamas, as some suggest? Nope!
The Nassau bet gets its name from Nassau Country Club in Long Island, New York.
In the early 1900s, John B. Coles Tappan, one of Nassau Country Club’s most prominent members and golfers, devised this betting style. It is said that the reasoning behind this betting format coming to be was simple. The players at Nassau CC always won matches against players from surrounding country clubs.
It got so bad that players from neighboring clubs would no longer play Nassau CC because they were growing tired of the beatdowns. This was when John B. Coles Tappan stepped in with his idea. In doing so, the hope was to encourage those who were leery of playing the golfers from Nassau CC to begin to do so once again.
Read more: The 50 Best Golf Betting Games
Tips To Improve Your Nassau Golf Strategy
Maybe you are reading this and thinking, “Man, I wish I was a better betting golfer because this sounds fun.” I feel ya…I had a point early in my golfing life where I was uncomfortable with betting. Here are some tips that may help you get back into the betting game again and have some more fun on the golf course when a Nassau is offered up.
- Play a Nassau bet using handicaps- Remember, golf has a great equalizer, which is the handicap system. You should always consider using handicaps when playing a betting game. Playing matches using handicaps may not be for everyone, especially better players, but the handicap system was made for a reason. That was to allow golfers of all abilities to play and compete together.
- Stick to a routine and playing strategy- Like with any format you play, whether competing or just playing a casual round, you should stick to a routine and general plan. That routine and strategy should suit you and your game. The most essential thing in terms of a routine is consistently sticking with it.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. Before you start playing, take some time to assess your strengths and weaknesses as a golfer. This will help you make better decisions about how to play each hole. For example, if you’re a strong driver, you may want to take more risks off the tee. If you’re a good putter, you may want to lay up on difficult approach shots and try to make up ground on the greens.
- Play to your strengths. Don’t try to be a hero on every hole. If you’re not a good driver, don’t try to force it. Instead, play to your strengths and focus on hitting fairways and greens.
- Be aware of the course conditions. The course conditions can have a big impact on your score. If the greens are fast, you must take more spin-off your approach shots. If the wind is blowing, you’ll need to adjust your aim accordingly.
- Manage your emotions. It’s easy to get frustrated when you’re not playing your best. However, it’s important to stay calm and focused. If you start to get angry or upset, you’re more likely to make mistakes.
Read more: How To Bet on Golf
Placing a few bets with friends helps make golf even more enjoyable than it already is. Making a wager or two has long been part of golf, and countless ways exist to do so.
The Nassau golf game, or Nassau bet, is the most basic and widely played betting game in golf. It’s simple to play by too. You place a bet on the front nine, back nine, and for the total 18 holes played.
Playing in many playing formats is possible while taking part in a Nassau, which is one of the biggest reasons this betting style is so popular.
Give this a try the next time you tee it up with your golfing buddies! You will have a blast!
Brendon is Class A PGA Professional and founded Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He won 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award. He graduated from the PGA of America Management Program and has a handicap index of 7.8.
He has played golf for over 40 years and currently plays twice a month at the Eagle Dunes Golf Club near Sorrento, Florida. He loves Srixon clubs and plays a ZX5 driver with Z 585 irons. He's written over 60 articles on GolfSpan and specializes in sharing tips to improve your golf game. You can connect with Brendon at LinkedIn, X, IG, FB, his website, or BrendonElliott@pga.com.
- Best score: 69
- Favorite driver: Srixon ZX5
- Favorite ball: Srixon Z Star
- Favorite food at the turn: Turkey and cheese on white