Explaining the Golf Game Named 'Bridge'

Bridge is the name of a golf game that, like the card game bridge, begins with an opening bid. There ends the similarity between card bridge and golf Bridge, however. In the golf game Bridge, golfers bid on the number of strokes they think they can play each hole in.

Bridge can be played one-on-one, but it's most commonly played by sides, two-vs.-two. (And this format is sometimes called by a different name, Name That Score.)

Each hole is worth an agreed-upon number of points or an agreed-upon cash amount. You can play Bridge using gross scores or using handicaps, it's your preference.

Here's how Bridge works. On the first tee, use a random method to determine which side goes first. That side makes the opening bid. What the partners on Side 1 are bidding on is the number of strokes they think they can play the first hole in — their side's combined score for the hole.

Let's say the first hole is a par-4. Side 1 makes an opening bid of 10 strokes. Now Side 2 has three options:

  • Side 2 can say, OK, you're on, and that means the bet is that Side 1 has to play the hole in 10 strokes or less to win the bet.
  • Side 2 can say, OK, you're on, and let's double the bet because we really don't think you can play this hole in 10 or fewer strokes.
  • Or Side 2 can say, we can play this hole in fewer strokes — we bid 9 strokes.
If either of the first two options is chosen by Side 2, then the bet is on and the hole is played. If Side 2 decides to make a lower bid, then Side 1 now has the same three options: take the bet, take the bet and double it, or make a lower bid. And that's the Bridge golf game.

Which side bids first on each tee? Some groups play Bridge with the side that lost the previous hole getting to open the bidding on the next tee. Chi Chi Rodriguez, who has gambled enough for all us, says that golfers should alternate going first throughout the round — if Side 1 opened the bidding on the first hole, then Side 2 bids first on the second hole, Side 1 on the third hole, and so on, regardless of score. We'll go with Chi Chi, but you do you.

There are a couple bonus bets you can include in Bridge, if you want to amp up the risk and reward even more. If the team that makes the final bid fails to match or beat its bid, it looses the agreed-upon bet amount for each stroke over its bid. If the team making the final bid wins the original bet, then it wins the additional betting unit for each stroke under its bid.

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