Nassau Side Game
Nassau Side Game

Nassau is one of the most popular golf games played on the golf course. The game can be as simple or complex as you wish it to be. In its basic format, the game consists of three separate bets; the front nine, back nine, and entire eighteen. Complicated variations involve handicaps, teams, the option to press one or more bets, and played in conjunction with another game such as two-ball best ball.

Players Required for Nassau

The minimum players required for Nassau is two. The game can be played with more than five players individually, with groups, or as a tournament.

Simple Rules: Match Play/No Presses

The simplest form of Nassau is match play without presses. Each hole is played for a point, in contrast to stroke play where players add up their total scores at the end. Each hole is either won, lost, or tied.

In this format, deciding the winner is straight forward;

  • Front Nine: Player who won the most holes for the front nine.
  • Back Nine: Player who won the most holes in the back nine.
  • Overall 18: The player who won the most holes overall.

Simple Rules: Stroke Play/No Presses

Playing Nassau using stroke play, with no presses, is also a simple way to play. The main difference between this format and using match play is scores are added up at the end of each round to determine the winner. It is not as easy to understand who is leading throughout the game using this method, but at the same time, it’s not overly difficult.

The winner, using stroke play, is decided by;

  • Front Nine: The player with the lowest score for the front nine.
  • Back Nine: The player with the lowest score for the back nine.
  • Overall 18: The player with the lowest score overall.

Complicated Rules: The Nassau Press

The Nassau Press is what takes this game from easy to more complicated. It is for this reason that I classified the game as ‘mixed’ difficulty. For the beginner golfer, my recommendation would be to play a couple of games without presses first to become familiar with the format. Once you are comfortable, you should then begin to add variations such as the Nassau Press.

Players or teams can request to ‘press’ single or multiple bets which are run in parallel to the standard front/back/overall bets. An automatic bet can also be created if agreed upfront before the round. As you can imagine, this can become frighteningly complicated for the beginner golfer.

Single Press

A player or team can “press the bet” when they are down two holes. When the bet is pressed, a new game begins from that hole until the end of the 9 holes currently being played.

Multiple Presses

Players and teams can press multiple bets throughout the Nassau game if agreed. I press can only be requested when the player or team is down two holes. For each new press, another bet starts from that hole. The complexity of the game soon increases, and the size of the betting pool equally increases.

Automatic Presses

The automatic press must be agreed by all players prior to the commencement of the game. When an automatic press is engaged, a new bet is started automatically when a player or team is down two holes. It may take some time at the end of the round to calculate who has won and lost with this format. Not only can it become complicated, but it can also become quite costly.

Using Handicaps with Nassau

As we all know, players each have varying abilities when it comes to golf. The handicap system provides some equality to the game, and it can be applied to the game of Nassau. A high handicapper can win a hole with a gross 6/net 4 against an opposition players straight 4.