Golf games: How to play Nines or 5-3-1
Golf Culture

Golf games: How to play Nines or 5-3-1


There are so many good golf games to play, most of which have rules that make betting easy, too.

One of our favorite games is really reserved for a three players, and it's called either 5-3-1 or Nines.

Golf games: Wolf | Scramble | Shamble | Snake | Nines or 5-3-1 | Nassau | Skins game | Quota | Snake | Chapman | Bingo Bango Bongo | Mulligan-Recall

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The rules of Nines or 5-3-1

Nines is a very easy game to understand. On every hole, nine points are awarded to the three players in the match, and the points are awarded on the basis of how the players score (with or without handicap applied). Here's how the points are distributed:

  • First place - 5 pts, second place - 3 pts, third place - 1 pt
  • First place - 5 pts, tied for second place - 2 pts each
  • Two tied for first place - 4 pts, third place - 1 pt
  • All tied - 3 pts each
  • First place wins with birdie or better - 7 pts, second and third place - 1 pt

RELATED: The best golf games to play for twosomes, threesomes and foursomes

The player with the most points are the end of the match (or it can be played Nassau style, with front and back nine bets, as well a full 18 bet) collects from the losing players, which must pay the winner a pre-determined amount per point difference between the winner's point total and theirs.

There are some variations where the last-place player not only has to pay the winner the amount owed in the difference between the winner's point total and theirs but also has to pay the second-place player based on their point differential as well. That version of the game makes it much more expensive to finish in last place, but that style of game is not typically played.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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