How to Play the 3-Putt Poker Golf Game

Three-Putt Poker is a golf betting game that combines an element of poker with the golfers' performance on the greens. Specifically, in 3-Putt Poker (just as in "regular" golf) golfers want to avoid three-putts and accrue one-putts. A 3-putt in this game will literally cost you money, while a 1-putt will increase your odds of winning the game pot.

At the beginning of a round of golf, the members of group that is playing 3-Putt Poker ante up the opening bet. (Let's say, just an example, each golfer antes up $5 — but make it any amount your group is comfortable with.) Each member is also dealt one playing card from a standard deck of cards.

Then, your group plays golf. Where the action takes place is on each green. And this is what happens in Three-Putt Poker:

  • On each green, any golfer who who needs three putts or more to hole-out has to add money to the pot. Using our example of a $5 initial ante, a golfer who three-putts might be required to add $1 to the pot.
  • But any golfer who one-putts is dealt another playing card.
Three-Putt Poker is played over nine holes, so at the end of the front nine golfers compare their poker hands. The golfer who can make the best poker hand wins the pot. The more one-putt greens you've had on the front nine, the more cards you'll be holding, so the greater your odds of winning will be. But just as with regular poker, Lady Luck plays a big part. One golfer might earn five more cards while another earns no additional cards, but it's still possible for that one card to win the pot if no other golfers can beat it. Not likely, but possible.

The game starts over on the back nine, so on the 10th tee the golfers in the group ante up again.

The amount of the initial bet — the ante — is, of course, up to the group members. But the additions to the pot for 3-putting are typically 20-percent or 25-percent of the initial bet. With the $5 ante we used as an example, a golfer who three-putts typically has to add $1 (20-percent) to the pot. For a $1 ante, additions to the pot as a result of 3-putts might be a quarter (25-percent). For a $10 initial bet, perhaps $2 (20-percent). The amounts of the wagers are up to you and your buddies and your budgets.

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