I've been playing a lot of cash golf recently, with mixed results, and need to offer a few rules to help protect your bankroll in cash games.

1. Never play against a guy who is older, real tanned, friendly, and laid back. (If someone offers to carry your clubs from your car…run away)

2. Never believe a handicap of a stranger until you've seen him play at least 10-15 times. Funny thing is that amateurs egos make them take 2-3 strokes off their handicap, while good hustlers add 2-8 strokes….whatever the market will bear.

3. Never bet a new guy you've just played 17 holes for fun, on the 18th hole…..Never.

4. Never, ever play a guy for money who has a set of irons that have all the impact marks on the face, dead center, the size of a dime. See this and know you are going to reach for the wallet.

5. Never, ever play a guy for money who's clubs seem to be greasy(it's OK to look at and admire your opponent's clubs). Vaseline on a club face of a wood adds yards and can correct a slice.

6. Some old time golf hustlers think that if one is not cheating at least twice a round then you are not doing enough.

7. Watch out for the player that might have a couple of greens keepers who are a couple hundred yards down the fairway in carts who will kick a ball into a better lie….or kick a good lie into a sand divot….all for a picture of Franklin, some weed, coke, or whatever.

8. Never leave your clubs overnight in the locker room while you are the guest of a club…you might find the lies and lofts of your irons have shifted more than a few degrees while you were not watching them. Not all pro shops are honest.

9. Remember that not all the world's best golfers are on the PGA tour. In fact, most of the best golfers are probably not on the tour, but I cannot afford to quantify this statement.

10. Stay away from playing "Sticks" when you are a visitor put into a foursome.

11. Never accept a bet someone who is willing to play you with a pitching wedge, left handed, while offering you a ton of strokes….You will lose

12. If someone offers you a proposition bet like they can hit the ball closer to the pin than you with their 5-iron from 60 yards out, or any similar propositions, just say NO..

13. If your opponent shakes your hand, and his hand is smooth, without calluses, avoid betting money with him. Also, those squinty, cold eyes are an indicator .

14. Remember that the talent to shoot low scores is not the key to winning money.

15. The very best golf hustlers have negotiation skills that equal or surpass their golf game.

16. For the best golf hustler, when the game gets intense, it doesn't deteriorate, it improves.

17. The very best golf hustlers are more fearful of a seasoned golf gambler than a PGA pro….much more fearful.

18. Never bet a guy who says his caddy can beat you….you will lose and the caddy will win.

19. Remember the old maxim, "You drive for show and put for dough." The short game is where the real cash is made.

20. Stay out of cash games in Florida during the winter, especially with strangers. A low key guy at my club has hustling earnings that would put him in the top 15 if he was in the PGA.

21. Never play for cash with strangers at the Las Vegas Country Club.

22. Never bet with anyone who offers you any proposition up front at a public course…..especially a run down public course.

23. Even friends might turn 5 strokes into 3 on on the front nine and you will suspect it while settling up over drinks at the 19th hole..

24. Never, ever take a mulligan in a cash game with a stranger.

25. Never play cash games with strangers, and in foursomes, watch out for the tanned, laid back, callous free, friendly ringer.

Hustlers realize that the score their opponent shoots means absolutely zilch….what matters is who walks away with the cash. The sucker can shoot a 69 and lose money, but the hustler can shoot an 86 and win. Scores mean nothing until the game is over and the checkbook is pulled out..

All of these rules have market corollaries. What do you think the corollaries are?





Speak your mind

6 Comments so far

  1. steve on May 9, 2012 8:07 am

    Some universal truths exposed here that correlate to markets and other endevours.

    Always have an edge. Be the table captain in Poker, the organizer in Golf, know the players the real money guys in markets.

    Money talks and bullshit walks. Bring plenty with you.

    Set the rules and conditions of the bets before the game start

    Bring a scorecard and record all the shots including penalty strokes. This will eliminate major disputes at the end of play.

    Cash golf is mano a mano or team and is always match play. Know where the strokes fall.

    Know the rules in and out. Lee Trevino used to study the Rules of Golf booklet available in all pro shops. Bring the book with you onto the course. ( I once lost a golf match over this one and got disqualified in a tournament another.)

    In the event of a dispute on the course ( and they will happen) stop play there and get a referee out to make a ruling.

    Play to your advantage. The longer the course the more it benefits the younger stronger player. The shorter the course the more it benefits the putter and chipper.

    Never take your eye of your ball or your opponents ball.

    Sharks do not attack sharks they attack the weaker more vulnerable fish. They are the ultimate bullies in the ocean. Play against others who are weaker than you.

    Always be a gentleman, be friendly and cordial. Especially in defeat.


    If a guy asks for a press, accommodate him. When you are ahead

  2. Eddie Felson on May 9, 2012 10:40 am

    what if guy asks to play left-handed? :) .

  3. steve on May 9, 2012 8:11 pm

    Eddie Felson is the character in The Hustler with Paul Newman. What the hell is this some goddamn joke.

  4. steve on May 9, 2012 9:35 pm

    #9 … maybe 50 years ago (when Lee Trevino was taking on PGA Tour stars at a Dallas muni), but not today. The money on tour is too great.

    As a corollary, I don’t know if I’m buying #20. 15th on the PGA Tour money list must have been around $3M. That must be some high stakes club!

    Rick Reilly’s Missing Links had a chapter on golf (and all-around) hustling legend Dewey Tomko. He’s been known to take down PGA Tour pros, but not because he’s better than them, just better at gambling. Classic stuff.

  5. Craig on May 12, 2012 1:44 pm

    Most bets are won or lost on the first tee. It helps to have your own game ready as it’s no fun to bet if you need to fix something.

  6. steve on May 16, 2012 2:35 am

    I have friends who have played poker with Dewey Tomko He was a elementary school teacher and quit to play poker. Then he bt a golf course in Fla and played high golf games. He has since moved to other lands.

    I had heard that as a result of his excessive lifestyle that he went through a divorce and lost much of his private life.

    Gambling has its downsides lots of them. It can be a cancer treat it as a demon. I have seen it destroy lives. I have also seen a few use it to bring a very comfortable lifestyle. Just not many. As they say about poker “It is a hard way to make an easy living.”


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