Golfing fanatics know all about the celebrated Nassau wagering system. It’s a simple yet delightful format that has gained immense popularity among all types of golfers. But what exactly is a Nassau? And why should you use it when playing a game of golf? Read on to find out!

nassau golf game

What is a Nassau Wager?

A Nassau wager is a three-way bet between players that involves three separate wagers - one for the front 9, one for the back 9, and one for all 18 holes. If you are playing with more than one person, each player can make their own bet or all players can agree to put money into one pot and play as partners in the wager.

These three bets are usually equal in value; however, they can be adjusted at the discretion of the players. A player or team will win one or more of these bets if their score on each section (front/back/overall) is lower than their opponent’s score. The winner can then collect from his or her opponents based on how many bets they won. The stakes are high and the competition can be intense!

The Nassau game lends itself to both stroke and match play formats as well as with or without handicaps, providing players of every level a chance to enjoy the challenge!

The Bet

If you've been fortunate to play the Nassau format then you've probably heard someone shout  out, "let's do a 5-5-5..." This refers to the size of the three bets - $5 on each of the 9 holes and $5 on all 18 holes.

So next time you're on the first tee and your partner says let's play a 2-2-2 you'll know you're playing for $6 total - $2 on the front 9, $2 on the back 9 and $2 on the total.

Now you're probably thinking $6 isn't too much to lose. In fact, that seems pretty tame. Well, hold on a minute. With a few presses stacked up on top of each other that number can add up pretty quickly. The legendary Chi Chi Rodriguez was famous for talking about how a $2 Nassau can quickly become a $50 bet.

You may also hear them say let's play best nines. This is another term referring to a Nassau bet.

Adding A Press To The Bet

The best part about this game? It gets even more fun when you add a press to your bet! When players or teams agree to play a Nassau with a press, they are essentially making two separate wagers - an initial bet and a press bet. The ‘press’ portion of the bet allows a player who is losing on one of the original 3-way bets to double his/her stake on the remaining holes left in play. Let's take a look at how this looks.

After 6 holes Player A is 3 holes down. The best that he/she could do is tie so Play A decides to press the $2 Nassau. This starts a new $2 bet for the three remaining holes on the front 9. It allows Player A to break even if they can win the final three holes even if they lose the $2 front nine.

If they lose, however, they lose both bets (the original bet and the press). It’s essentially creating a double-or-nothing offer so it’s definitely worth considering if you think you have an edge over your competitors! This makes things interesting as it provides players with an extra incentive to stay invested until the end.

When it comes to pressing things can get a bit complicated and the stakes can add up quickly. So it's important to define the rules at the beginning of the match. Here are some examples:

  • Allow a press only when you can not win the bet
  • Allow a press at any time
  • Limit a press to the final 2 or 3 holes
  • Set a limit to the number of presses allowed

There are plenty of creative options when it comes to the press. You could even allow the amount of the pressed bet to be increased. However, remember if you're getting the best of your opponents on a particular day you don't have to accept a press. Unless of course, you don't mind taking more of their money.

A Brief History...

The Nassau bet is named after the esteemed Nassau Country Club on Long Island, where it was first developed in the early 1900s by club captain John B. Coles Tappan. In those days, players at Nassau CC were so much more talented than anywhere else that other clubs refused to compete - they'd become discouraged from always losing! It became embarrassing for the prestigious members of the other clubs.

To entice future matches and healthy competition among local clubs, then, the popular 'Nassau' wager was born. All of a sudden a 2-1 loss or even a 3-0 loss didn't look so bad in the newspapers the following day. And those distinguished members were no longer subject to the good-natured but often annoying verbal abuse that came with losing a match by 5 or 7 holes or more.

From the humble beginnings of a bet designed to level the playing field between clubs, Nassau wagers have become an iconic part of golfing culture. Whether you’re betting for fun or taking it seriously with presses and side bets, this classic format is sure to add some excitement during your next round! Who knows - you may even come out ahead in the end. So if you're looking for a way to spice up your game while potentially making some money on the side, why not give Nassau wagering a try? And don't forget: always remember to set clear rules before starting so that everyone has an enjoyable experience. Good luck!