What Is A Nassau In Golf?

We unravel how a Nassau works when it comes to having a bet with your mates

Nassau golf bet
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Many of you will have heard the name 'Nassau' when it comes to golf bets. It sounds like it should be quite convoluted but in fact it's very straightforward.

It is generally speaking three separate bets and is the same as if you play for a sum of money on the front nine, back nine and the overall match. So, if you were to play for £2 on each, then the most that you could lose is £6.

It is most usually wagered in match play but can easily be adapted to playing other formats, eg to keep a Stableford interesting, with players being able to quickly forget what has happened on the front nine.

You will also likely be familiar with a 'press' when it comes to golf betting. The Nassau press is a side bet, in addition to the original bet, offered during a Nassau match by the side that is losing in an effort to get their money back at any point in the match. 

If the player who 'presses', ie offers the press, then beats his opponent over the remaining holes on a given nine or the overall match, then he/she wins the press bet. Basically it is a double-or-nothing offer. The opposition has the option to accept or reject the press, although it is generally usually accepted. The press bet runs for only the remaining holes to be played on either the front nine, back nine holes or overall. 

Related post: Five different formats to try

The Nassau bet gets its name from the Nassau Country Club on Long Island. It was here where that the club captain invented the bet in the early 1900s. The players at the club were supposedly much better than the other clubs in the area and always won their club matches. Other clubs were less keen to play Nassau CC so they adopted the bet to encourage future competitions.

An entry on the club's website reads: "Inter-club matches were in vogue, and Nassau teams, as well as those at other nearby exclusive clubs, had many prominent members who often were in the news of the day. They were embarrassed and often objected to the ribbing of being defeated by some score such as eight and seven. 

"Prominent member J.B. Coles Tappan devised a system whereby, losing an entire match, the result would only be 3-0 or, even after a bad loss on the outgoing nine, a player could regain his game, win the back nine and perhaps halve the total match and gain a tie or only a 2-1 loss. This became a gentlemanly way of playing and thus a new word was added to the lexicon of golf, The Nassau Bet." 

Mark Townsend
Contributing editor

Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.