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How to play dots in the golf game

The game of “dots” in golf is a popular betting game among golfers. It is played by a group of players in a formal setting. The purpose of the game is to reward players for making artful shots while penalizing them for poor shots. Dots, also known as “garbage,” represent a penalty that is added to a player’s score for each bad shot made. Conversely, a player can hit a great shot that earns them a dot as a reward. At the end of the game, the overall score is tallied, and the player with the lowest score wins.

The dot game adds an additional layer of excitement and competition to the already thrilling game of golf. It is often played with high stakes and can create intense rivalries among players. Overall, play dots in golf game is a fun and challenging way for golfers to test their skills and add an element of strategy to the game. It also serves as an opportunity for players to engage in friendly competition and camaraderie. 

 How to Play Dots Golf Game

Dots Golf is a great game to play for golf enthusiasts who want to add some variety to their game. To play the Dots Golf game, each player or team is assigned a certain number of dots based on their handicap, which is then placed on their scorecard. The game aims to earn as many positive points as possible during the round. Players can earn two points for hitting the green in regulation, also known as “greenies,” and additional points can be earned for making par or better on each hole.

A recovery shot from a difficult lie can also be rewarded with a point. However, players can also lose points for hitting the ball into hazards or “garbage,” resulting in negative points. At the end of the round, whoever has the most points is declared the winner. Dots Golf adds a new element of strategy and excitement to the traditional game of golf, as players must weigh the risk and reward of their shots to maximize their point totals. 

Understanding Dots Rules & Set-Up

Before starting a game of dots, you need to determine a series of preliminary dot rules with the rest of your foursome or golf party. These include:

Establishing Dot Values

The first key agreement to make involves what each dot will be worth, monetarily speaking. Common dot values range from 10 cents to $1, but any amount can be chosen. Make sure it is an amount all golfers are comfortable playing for.

Deciding On Total Holes

You will want to decide the number of holes you plan to play dots across. Most often, full 18-hole rounds utilize dots, but you can elect to incorporate it for just 9 holes as well.

Dot Placements

Core to the dots game is establishing dot placement locations on each hole. For every par 3, players place one dot at 100 yards from the pin. For par 4’s, dots go at 150 and 300 yards. And for par 5’s at 200, 300, and 450 yards. However, for those newer to golf or with less distance, those dots yardages can be adjusted closer in.

Collecting Dot Money & Winners

Finally, agree on a process to gather and distribute the dot money that accumulates across the round. Many groups have players carry their own dot earnings, while others collect it all to hand out at the end. Most frequently, the golfer with the most dots or dot money at the completion of the predetermined holes played wins it all.

Scoring Dots

When it comes to accumulating those all-important dots in hopes of some winnings, there is an easy scoring system to follow:

One Dot For Reaching Dots Spot

Any time you hit your golf shot and the ball comes to rest on or past one of the placed dots yardages, you earn one dot point – no closer than one club length away horizontally is key. Don’t worry about perfect accuracy at hitting dots though, just being in the vicinity is what counts.

Two Dots For Going Past and Holing Out

To earn the maximum per-hole dots of two, you must not only reach each of that hole’s set dot yardages, but your eventual golf stroke needs to find the bottom of the cup and hole out.

Remembering Dots

While initially remembering to mark your various dot yardages and points can pose a challenge when focused on the typical golf elements already like swing mechanics and obstacle avoidance, some helpful tactics include:

  • Verbally calling out dot proximities at start of hole
  • Yelling dot when player reaches one
  • Placing actual stickers or painted dots in advance
  • Marking your scorecard dots after each hole
  • Even limiting alcohol to stay mentally sharp

The more you play, keeping round dots will come second nature.

Dot Penalties

As with most betting style side games common in golf like skins or nassaus, dots does come with certain penalties or rules violations that can cost you dots points:

Lost Ball or Out of Bounds

In the event a player hits a poor shot that sails out of bounds or gets lost in wooded areas or hazards, that constitutes an automatic loss of any dots accumulated on that hole. So accuracy still matters!

Failure to Holes Out

Even once reaching the green and getting in proximity to the hole, all golf shots must be completed and holed out. Scooping up your ball early means loss of that hole’s max two dots opportunity.

Mulligan Abuse

Within reason first tee mulligans or hitting extra shots in casual company is generally accepted. But overusing that privilege especially around dots yardages can lead to penalties of dot forfeitures.

Strategies and Tips

In addition to understanding all the standard dots set-up, scoring, and penalty regulations, implementing these helpful strategies can lead to greater dot success and that coveted dot money prize:

Accurate Club Selection

Choosing the proper golf club to give you the necessary distance control is vital. Under or over clubbing off the tee makes aligning shots with dot markers hit or miss.

Play for Dots Over Par

Without sacrificing huge strokes to avoid trouble, recalibrate your thinking to attack dot landing areas more aggressively than a minimal risk-par-seeking mentality.

Simple Lies & Putting

When within makeable putting range, do still try to hole out not just stop close for an easy two-putt par. Securing that extra dot often comes down to converting putts.

Good Luck Beats All

As in any golf competition, random luck influences outcomes. Being fortunate enough to catch a sprinkler head boost or tree kick your ball out towards dots can make anyone a winner when the scores get tallied up!


Do Penalty Strokes Negate Dots?

No, incurring typical penalties like in water or unplayable lies may add strokes but don’t negate any fairly earned dots prior to that rules infraction. Only dots violations cost dot points.

Can Dots Money Carry Over?

This is entirely determined by your dot terms pre-round but continuing dot points and winnings round to round or hole to hole is certainly permitted by player agreement and can increase excitement.

Do Sand Saves Reward Dots?

Splashing out of greenside bunkers inherently carries more risk, but as with any stroke once reaching a dot is achieved, standard dot allowances are awarded. Distance trumps degree of difficulty in dots scoring.

Can Beginners Play Dots?

Absolutely yes! Dots yardages and rules can easily be adapted closer in for novice golfers and their playing partners. Building confidence through dots success is an ideal complement to skill development.

Golf Side Games Made Easy & Fun

While the full complexity of golf can take years of practice to hone, incorporating straightforward side games like dots between friends introduces betting entertainment accessible for all player levels. The dots guidelines shared here cover everything required to set accurate yardages, tally dot points, collect winnings, and resolve disputes. Now all that remains is getting out on the course to start playing dots on your next golf outing!

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