Golf terms: What is a snake in golf, and what does it mean to get one?
Golf Culture

Golf terms: What is a snake in golf, and what does it mean to get one?

If you've ever played golf or watched golf on TV, someone has no doubt used the term "snake" to describe something happening on the golf course. However, for a new golfer or golf fan, they might not know what it means to get a snake on the golf course.

What is a snake in golf?

In golf, a snake is when a golfer takes three or more putts to hole the ball after they reach the green or putting surface.

A snake is a three-putt or worse, and that is of course disappointing to pretty much any golfer. However, a snake can also be quite expensive for golfers if they are competing in a gambling game.

Why can a snake be expensive?

In golf gambling games, a snake can cost a player money, either as a per-occurrence penalty or as part of a specific golf game called Snake.

In snake, players must putt out on every hole. If a player three-putts or worse, that's when Snake really starts.

A player who three-putts is said to be holding the snake, and a pre-determined amount per point (usually per player in the group that didn't three-putt) goes in the pot. If and when another player three-putts, they hold the snake and the pot grows -- sometimes by the same amount each every three-putt, sometimes by a multiplied factor. Whoever is left holding the snake after 18 holes has to pay each player the amount in the pot, or sometimes the money is paid out evenly to the players not holding the snake.

So, as you might imagine at first hearing the term, snakes are not a good thing in golf.

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