How to Play the Golf Game Named 'Let It Ride'

"Let It Ride" is a golf game that tests not just your ability to avoid big numbers on the golf course, but also your confidence in that ability. In Let It Ride, a golfer accumulates points by running off streaks of holes without any net-double bogeys. Sound easy? Maybe not when money is on the line. And there are, naturally, some catches to consider.

These are the building blocks of Let It Ride:

  • It is a points/gambling game for play within a group (2, 3 or 4 golfers).
  • All golfers play with full handicaps, and net scores are used to award points ... or take them away.
  • Net bogey is worth 5 points, net par 15 points, net birdie 30 points, net eagle 50 points. And a net double eagle is worth 100 points.
Golfers tee off the round, then, as they finish each hole, earn points by making net bogey or better. Let's say you make a net par on the first hole, that's 15 points. You can bank those points and they are yours. Or you can let it ride: Go to the next hole with zero points banked but 15 points riding. If on the second hole you make a net bogey, that's 5 points. Now you have 20 points.

Do you want to bank those 20 points or let it ride on the third hole? Let's say you make a net birdie on Hole 3, that's 30 points and now you have 50 points riding.

So what's the catch? There are two:

  • First, if you bank points you can't resume accumulating points until you make a net par. If you bank points after Hole 1, then make net bogey on Hole 2, that second hole doesn't get you any points. After banking points, you must make net par before you start earning points again.
  • Second, and perhaps a bigger consideration: If you make a net double bogey, you lose all points you have riding — but not points you've already banked. Let's say you reach the fourth tee with 50 points riding. The fourth hole is one that always gives you problems; you've blown up on that hole before. Do you want to risk those 50 points? Or do you want to bank them and ensure you keep them?
Someone who lets it ride for a long time, 7, 8, 9 holes, 12 or 13 even, deals with more and more pressure as those points build up but aren't yet banked. But someone who banks early but then struggles for a few holes without making a net par is earning nothing on those subsequent holes.

Key thing to remember: A net double bogey eliminates any points you have riding but not those you've already banked. At the end of the round, everyone tallies up their points and the differences are paid out.

There are a couple other elements that some groups include in Let It Ride. One is the zero-point surcharge. You'll be wagering on Let It Ride by deciding how much each point is worth. But you can also stipulate that a golfer who finishes with zero points has to pay out a set amount (in addition to what he owes based on points). Maybe the surcharge is $5. Golfer A in a group of four finishes with zero, so he owes a $5 surcharge to each of the other three golfers.

There is also the double-par poison pill provision. Some groups (usually those with lower handicappers) use this in Let It Ride, but others prefer not to. The double-par provision is this: If a golfer scores net double par on any hole — 6 on a par-3, 8 on a par-4, 10 on a par-5 — that golfer loses not only all the points she has riding, but also all those points she has previously banked. If your group uses the double-par provision, it's a re-set to zero points for any golfer who runs afoul of it.

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