What is the Game of Dots in Golf

Dots Golf Game: The Ultimate Game for Side Bets

Do you want a new fun game to add into your weekly foursome?

If so, the dots golf game is just what you need.

You still get to play your own golf ball throughout the round, can play it with other formats, and even use it in team situations. So if you’re out for a casual round, four-ball, or Stableford, this is a great side game betting game.

How to Play Dots Golf Game  

So, how do you play dots in golf?

It’s a format where you are rewarded points on all different aspects of the game; including your tee shot, hitting closest to the pin, green in regulation, and more. At the end of the round the person with the most points wins the difference vs. other competitors.

It’s actually pretty simple once you establish what a dot (one point) represents during the round. But it gets more complicated when negative point values happen too.

As you’ll learn below you can pretty much make a “dot” for all types of situations. 

Key Takeaways

  • Dots is a fun betting game that can reward more than just score during the round. 
  • It’s also a game that you can play with other golf formats like stroke play, Stableford, or skins
  • The dots golf game is fun as all types of skill level players can enjoy and great for a group with different handicaps.
  • Before teeing off make sure everyone agrees what action gets a dot, if you play negative dots, and how much dots are worth. 

Keep reading to learn more about the dots golf game and rules now. 

Types of Golf Games

Establishing Your Dots  (Positive Points)

The first rule with dots is to establish what action on the course gets a dot. Typically, each dot is equivalent to one point and during the round each golfer tallies their own point totals.

Here are some of the most frequently used dots in this game: 

  • Birdies. Make a birdie, get a dot… or if you make an eagle, you might get two dots. This can also depend on gross vs. net scoring. If it’s a group of higher handicaps making par might be a point instead.
  • Long drive. This can happen on every hole (for par 4s and par 5s), every par 5, or only certain holes selected before the round. Make sure it’s played on a hole that everyone will almost always hit driver too.
  • Fairways. If you hit your tee shot in the fairway you get a point. This is great for all skill levels especially on tight fairways.
  • Closest to the pin (CP). Like long drives this can happen on every hole and must hit the green in regulation to count. Or, it might be only on certain holes like par 3s. 
  • Green in regulation. Another easy dot is greenies and rewarded every time you hit the green in regulation on any par hole. If you hit on a par 5 in two you can also get a double point values as you’re hitting it under regulation.
  • Sand saves (also known as sandies). If you get up and down from a greenside bunker you get a dot. 
  • Chip in (chippies). If you’re able to make a chip in from off the green, it’s a point for you. 

The more positive points the better because in most games there are also negative point values too. Let’s get into how this can change the game and require you to stay focused on every shot.

Decide on Negative Dots (Lose Points)

Once you have the positive dots established you should also consider negative dots which penalize your bad shots. These will negate a positive dot and take away from your total dots scored in the round. 

This is similar to a Stableford type of tournament where players get points based on score. In that format an eagle, birdie or par is usually worth positive points. However, a score over par like a bogey or double bogey might lead to negative points. 

Please note, you do not have to do this and will require a lot more from the person keeping score.

But if you have the right group and use an app to keep track of dots including negative achievements, here are the best examples. 

  • Bogey. This is something I’d suggest only if you’re playing with better players.
  • Double bogey (or worse). A double bogey is a good negative dot for most golfers and incentivizes smart play and making sure everyone stays in the hole. Hit a good recovery shot and hopefully you can avoid the dreaded double.
  • Three putt. If you have an unfortunate “three-jack” you’ll lose a dot (must be putting on the green, not putting from the fringe for this to count). 
  • Lost ball, penalty area, or out of bounds. If you lose a ball or hit on OB this is a common negative dot situation. 

Extra Dot Bets

The first two categories are the most common type of dots and negative dots. But if you want to make things even more interesting there are some extra bets to add.

  • Murphy (or failed Murphy). If you miss the green in regulation but feel good about your chances of getting it up and down you can say “Murphie” before your chip/pitch. If you get it up and down you get a point. If not, you’ll actually lose two points so make sure it’s an easy shot. 
  • Flaggie. This is a fun one as it gives you two points if you make a putt longer than the length of the flagstick. You can also have a super flaggie if it’s a very long putt (make sure to decide the distance before the round) and get three dots. 
  • Super sandie. If you can escape a fairway bunker and still make par on the hole you’ll get two points. 
  • The Arnie or Hogan. If you make a par on a par 4 or par 5 hole but miss the fairway or green, get an extra dot. If you hit both the green and the fairway you’ll get two points – known as the Hogan. 

Keeping Score 

As you can tell, there are a lot of moving pieces inside the dots golf game… especially if you’re playing negative dots. Which is a lot to ask for someone who is playing golf and keeping score as well.

It’s best to have everyone keep their own dot score and report to the person keeping score after each hole. Or, you can always use an app like 18birdies which makes it easier to understand who owes who after the round.

Once the round is complete simply add up everyone’s points. Whoever has the most points (dots) wins and the losers must pay the difference in points.

For example, let’s say these are the total points:

  • Player A: 20 points.
  • Player B: 25 points.
  • Player C: 35 points. 

Player C is the winner and gets $10 from player B and $15 from player A. Most games play $1 per point but you can always adjust this amount depending on the group you’re playing with. You can also enjoy this golf game with multiple groups as well.

Golf Bets

FAQs About Golf Games 

Do you have more questions about golf betting and gambling? If so, keep reading through the most common questions and answers now. 

What are the dots in golf tournaments?

Dots in golf tournaments are actually different from the game discussed in this article. If you’re playing in a golf tournament and see dots it’s because you (or someone in your group) gets a stroke on the hole.

For example, if you’re a nine handicap golfer you’ll get nine dots on the card. These dots are on the nine hardest holes (in terms of slope rating on the scorecard). So if you make a gross par on any of the nine hardest holes, you’ll actually get a net birdie.

Make sure to check your dots before the round to know where you’ll get a stroke back. 

What’s the dot game called? 

It’s simply called the dots golf game. Other common names include junk or garbage as it’s not a scoring based system but instead all the little things that happen during the round. 

My Experience 

Dots  is a great game and one that works for all types of players.

While I love stroke play, Nassau, and skins – adding in a dots component for side bets makes the day a lot more exciting. Because as you know there are a lot of good things that can happen even if you don’t necessarily score well.

My thought is the more side bets the better.

Dots rewards players for staying in the round, battling through bad shots, and rewards good shots too. What’s great about this gambling game is that you can play it with other formats and each golfer can play their own golf ball.

Just double check everyone is on the same page with rules and who’s keeping score (or using an app) before the first hole.

Final Thoughts 

It’s easy to see why dots is such a popular game especially if you’re deducting points. Factoring in negative achievements definitely makes things more interesting for the group.

Try this game out in your next round as it’s a great game for all types of players. Hopefully at the end of the round you’re the one with all the points and win all the side bets.

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