The Umbriago Golf Game Explained

In the golf game known as Umbriago, a group of four golfers divides into two teams of two golfers each. Then they play stroke play, 2-vs.-2, with six points at stake on each hole.

What it takes to earn one or more of those six points can vary between groups. But the most-common Umbriago point system is this one:

  • A side earns one point if one of its golfers makes a birdie or better.
  • The side that has the closest-to-the-pin ball on each green earns one point.
  • The side that has the low scorer among the four golfers earns two points on each hole.
  • The side that has the lowest combined score earns two points for the hole.
If a team manages to sweep all four categories on a single hole — called getting the Umbi — the points are doubled, so the team would get 12 points rather than six.

At the end of the round, the losing side pays off the difference in points (you remembered to agree before teeing off how much each point is worth, right?).

The name of the game, Umbriago, is sometimes shortened to Umbi. We've also seen this game called Twist. But where does the name Umbriago come from?

We found one source on golf games claiming that umbriago is Italian for "umbrella." That's interesting, because there is a very similar game known as the Umbrella Game. But it's not the case that umbriago means umbrella in Italian.

Umbriago appears to be Italian slang for a village idiot or drunkard, and Italian-American slang for getting very drunk. You'll sometimes hear Umbriago, the golf game, described as one of the most-complicated and confusing to keep track of. What we described above doesn't fit that bill — it's pretty straightforward. But many groups of golfers who've played Umbriago together for a long time do, over time, throw in more and more scenarios in which different points are available, or different ways in which points can be doubled or even tripled, or ways in which bets can be pressed or points lost or negated.

Those groups might find the scorekeeping confusing as the round progresses. Maybe that is where the umbriago (drunkenness, which causes confusion) comes from. Another possibility is the American vaudeville, radio and television performer Jimmy Durante, who frequently referred to a character named Umbriago and recorded a song of that title.

More golf games:

Sources: "Fun game to play with 4 players," Forum, "Umbriago,"
Pike, Doug. "Golfers can join in a wide range of wagers," Houston Chronicle, March 10, 2004,

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