18th February,2015

Gambling on the golf course…….

~~I arrive each morning at 8:30 am, religiously at my golf club's pro shop, seven days a week – for the whole golf season unless the weather intervenes. There is something about golf that drives a player, be it hacker or pro, to play the game for something beyond the sheer joy (or frustration) of whacking a ball around a golf course. Members and pro’s at golf clubs around the world love to have something at stake, be it a dollar, a hundred, a thousand. If shepherds in fifteenth-century Scotland invented the game, they may well have done it because they were bored playing cards. Golf is meant for gambling.Me and my crew at the Lighthouse Golf Resort in Balcik, Bulgaria, know that all too well. Every day and every weekend, my members play for cash and glory.
Golfers always have something going, don't they? What golfer
hasn't staked 10-20 leva’s on the merits of his game? How many regular foursomes go off on a weekend morning without choosing teams and setting the price of competition? Will it be a 20 leva  today, automatic two-down presses? Will it be Skins at 10 leva  a hole with carryovers? Will it be Bingo, Bango, Bongo at a 10 Euro’s a point?It will be 10 leva’s front nine, back nine and over all? It will be for the dinner bill?
Every day, a few million players are deciding how much to play for and how much of a handicap advantage they can get away with. It's the nature of the game.In the last 5 years working at Lighthouse Golf Resort, Bulgaria. I have  bets with members and my  CEO,from time to time, however when we come to my CEO playing handicap, we decide on the moment, somewhere between 9 and 13 depends on the game we play.
I have pretty much been having a wager on the game for at least the last 25 years. It just seems like the thing to do. I think it makes you concentrate on the game more and puts some excitement into it. The reason  members play in the club competitions is to be around each other. But they all like to have a little action going.I can hear my members every weekend on the number 1 tee saying; “Show me the money”
Golf gambling raises the psychological stake of the game. It goes beyond posting a better score. It inflates the winner's ego (and wallet) when he takes some euro’s or leva off another man. Gambling extracts a price for mistakes, rewards good play with the feel of bills being pressed into the palm and brushed around your chin. Who isn't feeling a little cockier when a good round produces a fistful of Euro’s or Leva’s and a diminished look on your opponent? So, what if he's your best friend. He'll get over it. Or he'll get it back.
I guess the thing about me that made me a reasonable golf gambler was that I wasn't afraid to lose.You have to have action to get action. That has always been my philosophy. If you go to play afraid to lose, then you probably will lose. If you go in like you're going to win, your chances of winning are a lot better. I mean, I lost some, for sure. When I was playing my best, I overmatched myself from time to time. Many golf players got the best of me over time because they have played better. However the trouble with players who gamble is that most of them don't want to lose the money and that's all they think about. Myself,  -- I just think about playing and winning. If I miss a shot, it isn't because I choked thinking about the money. I missed because I didn't make a good swing or a good putt, that's all.
Phil Mickelson is one of a few PGA Tour pros who regularly have some action going during practice rounds. The most frequent game is Skins, where a value is set for each hole, often $100. If a hole is tied, the value carries over. If six holes in a row end in ties, the value of the seventh would be $700. Mickelson often likes to play Hammer, which is Skins with a doubling component. One player can hammer another player at any time during a hole, often after an opponent's bad shot. This doubles the value of the hole. If the hammered player does not accept the challenge, he automatically loses the hole.
The reason we play Hammer or play Skins is because each putt matters. It gets us in a frame of mind that each three- or four-footer makes a difference. It gives us a chance to prepare for the pressure that we will feel during the tournament. Hammer allows you to double the bet and makes each shot critical.
Gambling on golf is as natural as grass. It's a game that sets up perfectly for all manner of wagers, and the handicapping system allows players of vastly disparate talent to play for 20 leva’s. At 20 leva’s a pop, the members aren't going to make or lose a fortune.
That's the way it is. Competitive players love the action. They have to have some Leva’s  riding on the greens. For my members, and millions of other golf players, action is a requirement. They exchange a few bills every time they step onto a course. Religiously.