How to Play the Trouble Golf Game

"Trouble" is the name of a golf side game in which the object is to "earn" the fewest points, because points are "awarded" for negative achievements: things like hitting into water or 3-putting. Trouble is usually played by individuals within a group, but can also be played in a 2-vs.-2 team format. And it is typically played as a side game to the main competition.

"Disaster" is another commonly used name for the Trouble betting game.

As the round is played, golfers who hit into trouble (examples to follow) accumulate points. Hit into water? That's a point (or two or three — it's up to you to decide on the categories and point values). Hit into a bunker? Point. Three-putt? Point.

Points in Trouble can be given any value, and what earns a point can vary from group to group — again, the specifics are up to your group. But here is an example of a commonly used point system for Trouble:

  • Hit into water — 1 point
  • Hit your ball out of bounds — 1 point
  • Hit it into a bunker — 1 point
  • Fail to get out of a bunker on your first try — 1 point
  • Hit from one bunker into another — 2 points
  • 3-putt — 1 point
  • 4-putt — 3 points
  • Whiff — 4 points
Now, maybe you think hitting into water should result in more points than hitting into a bunker. Then make water balls worth 2 points. The players in your group just need to agree on the mistakes that saddle you with points, and how much each of those mistakes is worth.

Other mis-hits and mistakes that some groups use in Trouble include failing to get your drive past the forward tees; hitting a tree with any shot; failing to get a chip shot onto the green; or missing a putt that was inside the leather. You can make the Trouble points system as basic or complicated as you want. If your group is full of low-handicappers, then you might want to include things such as missing the fairway on your drive, or failing to record a green in regulation.

At the end of the round, golfers add up their points. Low points wins the Trouble bet.

More formats:

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