In a golf match, the term “press” is one that should be thrown around liberally. And if it’s not, you’re betting on your golf matches the wrong way. But, perhaps it would be helpful to explain what “pressing a bet” means in golf and what it can mean for your wallet in a match.
Before playing a match in golf, the players involved set the stakes and the format for the match. That could mean playing an 18-hole match for $5. It could mean playing a Nassau — where there are three bets: one for the front nine, one for the back nine and a third for the full 18 — for $2 per bet. As part of setting the stakes, usually players set up the rule for the press.
What is a press in golf
A press is a new bet opened during the match by a golfer or team of golfers who is down in any bet in the match. That new bet is typically in the same amount as the bet they’re currently losing, and the new bet lasts as long as the bet which is being pressed. You cannot press an already-decided bet.
Here’s an example: If you’re playing in a $2 Nassau, and, on the front nine bet, you get 2 Down after 5 holes, you can choose to press that front nine bet for another $2, playing a four-hole match to decide the press bet. Now you have $4 on the line in two separate-but-concurrent matches for the remainder of the front nine.
The possible outcomes:
- You could come back and win the nine-hole match, you’ll also obviously win the press, meaning you’ll win $4.
- You could still lose the nine-hole match but win the press, meaning you’ll net $0 — losing $2 on the nine-hole bet and winning $2 on the four-hole bet.
- You could lose the nine-hole match and tie the press, meaning you’ll lose $2 from the nine-hole bet and push the four-hole bet.
- You could lose the nine-hole match and the press, meaning you’ll lose $4.
Why press in golf?
Quite simply, there are two reasons why you might press a bet in golf:
- You want to try to win your money back or maybe even eek out a profit.
- You just love to gamble.
Different press rules
Depending on who you’re playing with (or against), there may be different standards for when you can open a press or when you have to open a press.
In some matches, there’s what called an auto-press, meaning a new bet is automatically opened up if a match reaches a certain point. Typically, the auto-press kicks in when one player or team is 2 Down at any point in any bet. Particularly aggressive (read: fun) groups have a 1 Down auto-press, meaning there will be a ton of bets by the end of the round.
In some circles, a player or team can call for a press only when they’re 2 Down or worse. In better circles, a player or team can open a press on any remaining open bet at any time, even during a hole and even if they’re winning. Those are the kinds of people you want to play with if you like to be a little fast and loose with your money.
Either way, a press is a great way to add some excitement to a golf match and keep things fresh for everyone involved.