How to Play the Nicklauses Golf Bet

Long drives are the key to the Nicklauses golf bet

Psst, want to win a "Nicklaus"? Better have the longest drive in your group. The Nicklaus side bet in golf pays off to the golfer in a group who hits the longest drive on a hole.

It's just that simple, and if you came here wanting the simplest explanation, well, you just got it. But we like to go a little deeper, so let's press on.

The Nicklaus bet is named — duh! — after Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus was famous, especially during the height of his career, for not only being a very long driver of the golf ball, but also a very accurate one. And when Jack really wanted to let loose, he could pound a driver farther than anyone in golf.

There are two main ways the Nicklaus bet is played:

  • The easiest way to play it, and the way to play so that it pays off on every driving hole, is to award the Nicklaus to the golfer in your group who hits the farthest drive and is in the fairway. That's a key proviso: To win the Nicklaus bet, your drive must not only be the longest, but also be in the fairway.
  • The less-common way to play Nicklauses is for the bet to pay out only when a golfer has the longest drive and also makes par on that hole.
Now, we've made several references to the Nicklauses bet paying off. How does that work? Before the round starts, your group should settle on the specifics of the Nicklauses bet you are playing, including the value of the bet. If we use $1 as an example, then the golfer who wins the Nicklaus on a hole gets $1 from each of the other members of the group.

An alternate way to pay out Nicklauses is to make each Nicklaus worth one point, and to combine it with several other similar side games (barkies, splashies, Arnies, scruffies, etc.) that you also play for one point each to the winners. Agree on the monetary value of each point. At the end of the round, add up the points and pay out the differences.

Photo credit: Photo by Patrick Case from Pexels

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