Golfers love to bet and there are a lot of gambling games to choose from. Whether it’s $1 side bet or $100, playing for money makes the game that much more interesting.
Things can get even more interesting when a golf “press” comes into play. If you’ve played with some friends who enjoy gambling and golf, chances are you’ve heard the term press quite often.
But what does a press mean? Is a press something that can happen in most popular games?
Let’s dive in so you’re prepared on the golf course and don’t end up on the losing team.
Pressing in Golf 101
Before getting into what is a press, let’s talk about the most popular game in which it happens – Nassau. This format is a fun way to play vs. another golfer during a round of 18 holes for three bets for a specific dollar amount.
A Nassau is a pretty simple format (also known as a 5-5-5) and a few other names. Here’s how it works – two golfers (or teams) decide to play a gross or net game for a certain amount of money. You play your own ball (or groups play their own ball) during the round.
In this example, let’s say there is $15 total. The front nine holes is worth $5, as is the back nine, and total score for a total of $15. However, things get interesting when one player or team presses their opponent.
That’s what we’ll cover today.
- Nassau is one of the most popular betting games and you have the option to “press.” A press is a second bet of the same amount within the match (more info below).
- Pressing is a fun way to increase the stakes and add more pressure to competitors.
- There are different press rules depending on rules that you should set before the match begins.
Keep reading to learn more about a press and other common golf gambling terms.
What is a press in golf?
If you’re like a lot of people you might get confused with all the different terms in golf (which are different from the rules of golf). Plus, as you keep playing this great sport chances are you’ll play with guys who want to bet too; this opens up another set of terms and golf jargon.
So, what is a press in golf?
It’s when a new bet is opened during the existing match. Let’s say you’re doing a $5 Nassau and on the front nine, you’re down two after six holes. You can press the bet for another $5 for a total of $10 for the next three holes.
Now, it’s a three hole match to determine who will win the press bet – as always, the lowest score wins. There are a few different things that can happen in this situation.
- You or your team lose the front nine score plus the press for a total of $10.
- You or your team lose the original bet but win the press. This would result in a wash (net $0) as you win and lose $5 each.
- Players tie but lose the nine hole match. This is another wash but might have implications on the total 18 hole score (which also depends on if you’re playing match play or stroke play).
- You win both the press and the original bet to win $10.
It’s important to note that no money is exchanged until the end of the round when a player or team wins.
Press Rules in Golf
You might be thinking, why press anyway?
The answer ultimately depends on who you’re playing with. Honestly, some guys just love to gamble and love how it ups the stakes of the match.
Some guys play great under pressure while others tend to crumble. If you’re confident and feel that your opponent might meltdown like Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot, it might be time to press.
The other reason to press is that you want to win some money back. Maybe your game was rough in the beginning holes or just had a bad break. But now you’re feeling confident and want to win your money back (and then some).
But as always, there are more rules to this gambling game too. One of them is known as automatic press – this occurs “automatically” when a player or team is down a certain amount in the match. This happens most commonly when a player or team is two down.
For example, if your opponent is down after two holes, they would have to auto press you at that time. Now there is the original front nine bet plus the extra press as well up for grabs the remaining front nine.
Other press bets might include auto-press when one down. Or, opening another press mid-hole or even by a winning team/player. This is where things get even more entertaining during the round.
Ultimately, make sure all rules are discussed before teeing off on the first tee shot to avoid any mid-round arguments. I’ve had this happen before and there isn’t much worse that can happen during the round.
Keeping Score and Playing Well
If presses are allowed it can get hard to keep track of everything so make sure to write down all bets on a scorecard. While the original amounts are pretty straightforward, make sure to notate all side bets and auto-press events too.
To help you win more of these bets we wanted to give some tips to play better under pressure:
- Keep breathing. If you stop taking big deep breaths your mind goes into fight or flight mode which limits motor function. Keep breathing to keep your mind and body relaxed under pressure.
- Stick to your pre-shot routine. A good routine will help you block out the noise (both internally and externally) to focus on the shot at hand. A good routine won’t let your mind wander to the next hole and stay fully present.
- Have a game plan for each hole. When money is on the line, this isn’t the time to “wing it.” It’s best to create a tee box strategy to get yourself into good position and hopefully have a good second shot into the green.
Finally, always be careful with talking too much smack to your playing partners. The Golf Gods can humble you quickly so be careful and try to let your game do the talking.
FAQs About Golf Gambling Games
Do you have more questions about gambling on the golf course (or more fun ways to play)? If so, keep reading to learn more now.
Do you have to accept a press in golf?
It depends on the game and players you’re with. Sometimes you’re allowed to deny a press but other times you must accept. This is why it’s crucial to always establish the rules before teeing off.
How do you play the auto press in golf?
Auto press is another thing you will determine before the round. The typical auto press if a player or team is two down but some groups might do one down which can get expensive quickly.
What is $2 Nassau in golf? What is a $5 dollar Nassau?
Nassau is a fun way to play golf with others (in either gross or net competition) in stroke or match play. A Nassau format is front nine score, back nine score, and total score for 18 holes.
So a $2 Nassau means $2 is up for grabs on the front nine, back nine, and total score. All in all you can only win or lose $6 total so it won’t break the bank. But it’s still a fun way to add some extra pressure to the match.
To up the stakes, play $5 or $10 Nassau as well. Or try out a lone wolf game (click here to learn more about playing wolf).
What is 5-5-5- in golf?
This is the same thing as a $5 Nassau. Five dollars is up for grabs on the front nine, back nine, and total score. The most you can win or lose is $15 during the day if you don’t have any presses.
Can you press in other games?
Yes, in sixes (three six hole matches) you can have a press golf bet too. This creates two separate bets that are in the same amount as the original wager. Plus, there are three separate bets during the round for each six holes.
Betting on the golf course with different gambling games is a fun way to mix it up and add some more pressure. But be careful with automatic presses as they can get expensive… quickly! If you don’t have your “A” game it’s going to be tough.
But if you and your teammate want to take a lot of money from Team B and make the last few holes interesting, do it!
Gambling is deeply ingrained in the great game of golf so make sure you’re prepared when betting. A Nassau is a fun way to make a round with someone (or another team) a lot more interesting. But don’t forget, you can not allow presses either and instead just focus more on the golf for the front, back, and total scores.
But if you want to have more fun and spice things up, make pressing part of the game. To make it even more exciting add in auto presses for an eventful day on the links.
Finally, just make sure that all rules are established ahead of time to not get into mid-round arguments with players. Also, don’t forget to always pay your bets!
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