How to Play the Barkies Golf Game (What Is a 'Barkie' Anyway?)

Watch out for those trees when playing barkies

A "barkie" happens when a golfer makes par on a hole after hitting a tree with one of his shots. Your drive hit a tree, yet you recovered to make par? You just scored a barkie.

Barkie can just be a slang term for that occurrence. But if you show up for a round of golf with friends (or get paired with strangers) and you hear something along the lines of, "We're playing barkies today," then you know that the barkies side game is in effect.

As a wager, a barkie is exactly the same thing as stated above: making par on a hole after hitting a tree. Except that in the Barkies betting game, that barkie is worth something.

How much a barkie is worth to the golfer who scores one is up to those participating in the bet. Just agree on the amount before the round starts. A dime? A dollar? Ten dollars? Depends on how much your group wants to wager. (Barkies are uncommon, of course, which might play into how much your group wants each barkie to be worth.)

Barkies can also be played as part of the larger points games variously known as Junk, Garbage, Trash or Dots. In those games, many side games are played simultaneously, with each achievement worth a points value. So a golfer who scores a barkie in the points-based games might earn, say, five points rather than a dollar amount.

'Arbor Day' and Other Barkie Variations

Some golfers include a variation on the betting barkie that doubles its value when a golfer makes birdie (rather than par) after hitting a tree.

And then there's "Arbor Day." When groups include Arbor Day in their version of the Barkies game, a golfer who hits a tree has the option to double the bet. Say your drive clangs into a tree but when you get to the ball you decide you're in better shape than you first thought. So you declare it's Arbor Day.

That means you are offering double odds to the others in the group: You are betting double the barkies wager that you can make par or better. (Do your buddies have to accept the wager? Decide before the round if Arbor Day is automatic when it is invoked, or if each golfer gets to decide whether or not to accept the new bet.)

If you invoke Arbor Day and then make par, you just won double the barkies amount from each of your buddies (at least those who accepted the bet). If you invoke Arbor Day and make bogey or worse, then you owe that amount.

Note that Barkies are also commonly called Woodies and sometimes, in one of the possible definitions of the term, Seve's.

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