The Shark Side Game Explained

"Shark" is the name of a golf side game in which golfers are wagering they can make par on a hole even after hitting their golf ball into water. Of course, avoiding water is something golfers very much want to do. But if you do find water on a shot, Shark rewards a great recovery.

Shark goes by many different names within the golf world. Splashies and Fishies are probably the most common names for this side bet. Shark and Cousteau (after famous French ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau) are among the alternates.

To play Shark, two, three or four golfers playing together agree before the round on how much each Shark is worth. Then, during the round, a golfer who makes par on a hole after hitting into water earns the Shark and wins that amount from each of the other golfers in the group. Shark is usually played without handicaps. If your group uses handicaps when playing, then winning the Shark is based on net scores.

Your group can also change the target score if you and your buddies are higher scorers. Rather than requiring a par, for example, your group might agree to require only making a bogey to earn a Shark.

Hitting into water is something we want to avoid. And after doing so, most recreational golfers rarely make par. So in most rounds Shark will rarely pay out. That's why it is typically played in conjunction with numerous, similar types of achievement-based golf wagers (barkies, Arnies, Nicklauses, pinnies, chippies, etc.).

Note that during the heyday of Greg "The Shark" Norman's pro golf career (mid-1980s to mid-1990s), it was common for Shark to also be used as the name of another of this type of bet. That Shark paid off to the golfer who had the longest drive on each hole. This bet rarely goes by the Shark name today, though.

More golf games:

(Book titles are affiliate links; commissions earned)
Kapriskie, Ron. Golf Digest's Complete Book of Golf Betting Games, 2007, Doubleday.
Rodriguez, Chi Chi, and Anderson, John. Chi Chi's Golf Games You Gotta Play, 2003, Human Kinetics
The Quick Series Guide to Golf Games, 1998, Luxart Communications

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