If you haven’t played it already, one fantastic golf game to try is Wolf. The cool thing is that it’s not just about getting the lowest score: Wolf is a strategy game.
What is the wolf golf game? The wolf golf game revolves around one player as “the wolf.” The Wolf has the option to partner with any player or play alone. As the Wolf, you’d want to partner with the player who is most likely to shoot the lowest score. Or you’d try to get the lowest score by yourself to get double the points. The winner gets points for each hole, and the most points at the end of the round wins.
There’s more to playing wolf than this, though, and many variations exist. For example, you can play via a point system instead of a score. I’ll cover all the different ways to play below.
Plus, you’ll probably lose if you don’t understand the strategy.
Read on to quickly learn everything you need to know. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How to Play the Wolf Golf Game
- Tips to Play Wolf
- How To Score Wolf
- How to Bet on Wolf
- Variations of the Wolf Golf Game
- How to Play the Wolf Golf Game
- Tips for Playing Wolf
- How Scoring Works in Wolf
- How To Bet During The Wolf Golf Game
- Variations of Wolf Golf Game
- Final Thoughts
How to Play the Wolf Golf Game
Wolf, sometimes called the lone wolf golf game, is an excellent example of a game you can play (and bet) with your buddies. I have played Wolf in several variations and heard of others I haven’t played. That said, it’s hard to pinpoint the actual “basic” Wolf format.
But here’s a standard format for how to play wolf in golf.
- Choose the number of players. Wolf is typically played with four players but can be played with any number of players.
- Determine the order of play. There are a few different ways to do this. You can flip a coin, draw straws, or simply count off.
- Choose the Wolf. The Wolf is the player who tees off last on each hole.
- The Wolf chooses a partner. After teeing off, the Wolf can choose to partner with any of the other players. They must decide before the next player tees off.
- Or the Wolf can go alone (Lone Wolf), if he thinks he can get the best score.
- The other players become partners. The two or three players who are not partnered with the Wolf become partners.
- Play the hole. Each team plays their own ball. The team with the lowest score wins the hole.
- Score the hole. If the Wolf partners with another player and they win the hole, they each receive 2 points. If the Wolf partners with another player and they lose the hole, they each receive 1 point. If the Wolf plays as a Lone Wolf and wins the hole, they receive 4 points. If the Wolf plays as a Lone Wolf and they lose the hole, the other three players receive 1 point.
- Rotate the Wolf. After each hole, the Wolf rotates to the next player in the order of play.
- Repeat steps 3-8 until the end of the round.
The player with the most points at the end of the round wins.
Tips for Playing Wolf
- If you are the Wolf, you should try to partner with the player who you think is most likely to shoot the lowest score.
- If you are not the Wolf, you should try to partner with the Wolf if you think you can help them win the hole.
- If you are playing as a Lone Wolf, you should try to shoot the lowest score possible.
- If you are playing with a handicap, you should use your adjusted score when scoring the hole.
Tips To Determine Your Order
To start, your foursome must determine a permanent order of teeing off for the round. That order of play, off the first tee, will look like this:
|Tees First On Holes
|1, 5, 9, 13
|2, 6, 10, 14
|3, 7, 11, 15
|4, 8, 12, 16
Each player is the Wolf once every four holes.
Who Gets To Be The Wolf?
When you have your order of play before teeing off on hole one, the player who tees off last on each hole is the Wolf. Some people play with the Wolf going first.
On holes 17 and 18, it is up to your group to decide who tees off last. In the version of Wolf that I have typically played, whoever was in third after 16 holes would be the Wolf on the 17th tee. Whoever is in last place on the 18th tee would be the Wolf there.
How Do You Determine The Order?
A simple tee flip is the typical way to determine the order at the start. All players get in a circle, and you throw up one tee; whoever the tee points to goes first, and so on.
How Scoring Works in Wolf
The Wolf golf game has many slight variations. With that in mind, I will break down the wolf scoring options based on how I have played it myself.
I have scored in the past by individual and team best ball score. I’ve also used a points system.
Here’s How To Score Wolf:
- If the Wolf partners with another player, they are a team, and their combined score is compared to the scores of the other two players.
- The team with the lowest score wins the hole.
- If the Wolf partners with another player and wins the hole, they receive 2 points.
- If the Wolf partners with another player and loses the hole, they receive 1 point.
- If the Wolf plays as a Lone Wolf and wins the hole, they receive 4 points.
- If the Wolf plays as a Lone Wolf and they lose the hole, the other three players each receive 1 point.
- The player with the most points at the end of the round wins.
If you play by the points system described above, the most points scored will be the winner.
How To Bet During The Wolf Golf Game
Here are some common ways to bet during a Wolf golf game:
- Before the hole: Players can bet on who they think will win the hole. The amount of the bet is typically agreed upon before the round begins.
- After the tee shot: The Wolf can play as a Lone Wolf, which means they are betting on themselves to win the hole. If the Wolf wins the hole as a Lone Wolf, they will receive triple the bet amount.
- After the other players tee off: If the Wolf has not yet chosen to play as a Lone Wolf, they can still do so after the other players have teed off. However, the bet will only be doubled in this case.
- Winner takes all: I have played most of my Wolf games with everyone putting in a predetermined amount before starting to serve as the “pot,” and the winner takes all. For example, each player puts in $10, and the winner at the end gets $40. That would work with either the score method or points.
- Per Point: You can also play by a predetermined dollar amount per point. An example could be $1 per point. If the winner is someone that accumulated 30 points, then they win $30.
The bet amount can vary depending on the players’ skill level and the game’s stakes. In general, starting with smaller bets and increasing the amount as you get more comfortable with the game is a good idea.
More from Golf Span: Can You Play Golf With 5 Players? Is There A Player Limit?
Variations of Wolf Golf Game
Of the many ways you can play Wolf, I will break all those I know in terms of how to play and bet.
Different Ways To Play and Score Wolf
Let’s look at a handful of ways to play and score Wolf.
- Reverse Wolf – If you play with Wolf being the last to tee off on each hole, then you’d reverse it. The Wolf will now be the first to tee off on each hole. Or vice versa. The Wolf still must decide right after each of the first three players tee off if they want to partner with them. If they want to run as a Lone Wolf, they must declare that before anyone tees off.
- Divorce the Wolf – The divorce allows the player selected by the Wolf to break up with them or “Divorce.” This means that the player the Wolf chose would like to take on the hole solo, not play with the Wolf. When a divorce is called, even this has variations. The three variations I have seen include:
- All four players play the hole independently.
- The Wolf and the player that divorced the Wolf each play their own ball against the remaining two-person team.
- The hole is set as a 1-vs-3 match, with the original Wolf playing with the other two players and the divorcee now playing as the Wolf.
- I’ve only played where it was only allowed once per player.
- Playing Format Variations – As I laid out in the “original” version, or at least my “original” version, you saw the “team,” whether a two-person or three, playing in the best ball format. You could just as easily have them play in a Scramble Format as well. That would add to the pressure on the Wolf! You could also play Match Play instead of stroke. Really, the sky is the limit…you could even do a Stableford System of some sort, where there is a point value for the score made on the hole. Par = 1 point, Birdie = 3 points, Eagle = 5 points, etc.
- Playing with Handicaps – Playing any format using gross or net score is always an option in golf. Using net score, you are basically using each player’s handicap and counting their net score on each hole rather than their gross or natural score.
- Betting Format Variation – Another way to structure the betting in Wolf could be a Nassau bet. This is putting a bet down for the winner of the front nine, the back nine, and the total of 18. This will work with points or scoring formats.
Check this out: Best Golf Android Apps: Pros, Cons, & Prices
Do Points Carry Over in Wolf?
Deciding whether points carry over in Wolf is entirely up to the group playing. As long as this is considered before teeing off on the first hole, it is a stipulation you can play by.
Can You Play Wolf With 3 Golfers?
You can play Wolf with three players. In this situation, however, you will only see holes played between one player vs. two players.
What Happens With a Tie in Wolf?
Like with so many other Wolf golf rules, you can make a stipulation regarding ties before teeing off. Typically, a tie is played with no carryovers, and a tie remains a tie.
Does Wolf Tee Off First or Last in Golf?
Typically the Wolf tees off last. However, you can absolutely play with the Wolf teeing off first. Either way is a fun way of playing Wolf Golf.
Can You Play Wolf with A Handicap?
Most people play the wolf golf game with a handicap. This lets players of any skill level fairly compete against each other.
Learn more about: How to Play Four Ball Golf: A Simple Guide
Wolf is a fun and challenging golf game typically played with 4 players but can be played with any number of players.
The goal is to score the most points by the end of the round. On each hole, the last player to tee off is the Wolf. The Wolf can partner with any player or play alone. If the Wolf partners, they play the best ball. If the Wolf plays alone, they try to shoot the lowest net score on the hole.
There are many variations of Wolf, so you can find a format that works for your group. Some popular variations include:
- Reverse Wolf: The Wolf tees off first on each hole.
- Divorce the Wolf: A player can “divorce” the Wolf and play the hole alone.
- Playing Format Variations: The team can play in the best ball format, a scramble format, or even match play.
- Playing with Handicaps: Players can use their handicaps to score the holes.
- Betting Format Variations: Players can bet on the winner of each hole, the front nine, the back nine, or the entire round.
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