What Is The Snake Game In Golf?

The snake game can help you with those clutch putts late in a round

A snake on grass
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The snake golf game can help you make those clutch putts late in a round. Ok, it may be not so much ‘help’ as ‘incentivize‘.

The 'snake' punishes anyone who three-putts on a green. (Shots played with the putter from off the green do not count). It is the adage ‘drive for show, putt for dough’ taken literally.

No shots can be given - there are no gimmes when playing the snake game. For this reason it may be best not to play it when the course it as it busiest.

The idea is that the person who first three putts takes ownership of the snake.

When someone else three putts, they take the snake from this player, and so on. The person who leaves the final green with the snake in their possession pays a forfeit to the others.

In some versions of the snake a monetary value is decided beforehand for each three putt. This sum is then put into the pot every time someone three putts, and the one who has the snake at the end of the game has to pay the total in the pot, which is divided among the other players.

Close up of a ball being putted into a hole

The Snake game is all about three-putts, and it can be expensive if you lose

(Image credit: Future)

This sum can be the same per three-putt or it can be doubled, for the high rollers, with each three putt. So for example, each three putt could be worth $5, meaning that the person with the snake at the end of the round could fork out $50 if there were ten three-putts in the group.

In other versions, the one with the snake at the end simply buys the round of drinks or lunch for the group. 

You could also play the snake over a number of rounds, for example on a golf trip - albeit that could be very expensive for the loser!

It's a fair game, too, as even the best players could still three-putt the 18th green to pick up the snake. A higher handicapper could have the majority of the three-putts during the round, but as long as someone has one after them they're free.

It certainly adds something to your round of golf.

A positive of the snake game is that it can be played alongside the most popular golf formats like four balls, stableford and skins - someone just needs to record on the scorecard how many three-putts there have been and who is currently in possession of the snake.

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.