Summer is here, and that means it is time to hit the links. The following golf games add fun, excitement and sometimes even meaningful experiences to the traditional game.

Chicago
Chicago is essentially a creative handicapping method. Players receive a negative quota of points, called a â??hurdle,â? based on their handicaps. Scratch players get -39 points, one handicaps get -38, two-handicaps get -37, and so on to 36-handicaps, who get -3.

Then, based on their performances, players receive positive points as follows:

�  Bogeys = l point
�  Birdies = 4 points
�  Pars = 2 points
�  Eagles = 8 points

The player who clears his â??hurdleâ? by the most points wins. Wagering can involve a fixed sum to the winner or an amount based on point differentials. You can also add a bonus for anyone clearing his hurdle.

Stableford
Points are allocated based on the net score of each hole. Handicaps are allocated based on the index of each hole. You deduct the allocated handicap per hole from the score on the hole and the points are allocated against the equivalent net score for the hole. The exact points that are allocated seem to vary.

Chapman – (two-man teams)
Each player hits a tee shot. They then each play a second shot using their partnerâ??s ball. At this point, they select the best ball, and the player who did not hit it plays alternating shots until the ball is holed (only the first two shots are hit by both players).

Pinehurst – (two-man teams)
Pinehurst is similar to the Chapman format, except that each player hits a drive, and the best drive is then chosen and players alternate in from there. Unlike the Chapman, players do not BOTH hit second shots from their partnerâ??s drives.

Alternate Shot (Ryder Cup)
Played as two-person teams with each player alternating who drives on each hole. The player who doesnâ??t drive hits the second shot and the playerâ??s alternate shots until the ball is in the hole. The first hole is used to determine the tee honors for the round. Whoeverâ??s drive is selected on the first hole will tee off on the odd-numbered holes while the partner will tee off on the even holes. Normal stroke totals are kept; the team with the best total wins the round. You must put some thought into who drives which holes. Do the holes that require a good carry tend to be odd or even? Put your long hitter on those tees. Do the par-threes fall on the odds or evens? Put your target hitter on them.

Alternate Shot (Scotch Foursome)
Scotch Foursomes are the most popular gambling format in Great Britain, where itâ??s simply called a â??Foursome.â? Played as two-person teams where each member of the team alternates taking EVERY shot. If Player One hits the ball in the hole, Player Two would tee off on the next hole. Normal stroke totals are calculated for each team. Use one-half of combined handicaps. The Scotch Foursome is an excellent game â?? it really brings a team together, for better or worse. Itâ??s also a fast game, as players tend to walk ahead of their partners in a leapfrog fashion. The popularity of this format is one of the main reasons golf is played faster overseas, where a quick pace is the norm. Most players in North America could use a dose of this mentality.

Ticks
A variation on Bingo, Bango, Bongo, alternate Shot Scotch Style â?? you and your partner alternate hitting each shot. Itâ??s $2 (or agreed upon amount) for hitting the longest drive in the fairway. Itâ??s $2 for the first player in the hole; $2 for the first player on the green; and $1 for being closest to the hole once all golfers are on the green. If you sweep all of these events for the hole, your team gets $10.

Wolf
Also called â??Wolfman,â? Wolf is a three-player game. The golfer with the middle-distance drive, regardless of where it lands, is the â??wolf.â? His opponents are the â??hunters.â? The wolf must match twice his net score on the hole against the combined net scores of the hunters. If the amount wagered on each hole is a dollar, the wolf puts up two dollars against one each for the hunters. If the wolf wins, he collects two dollars, whereas the hunters get only one each. On par-three holes, the wolf is the second-closest to the pin after the first shot.

If thereâ??s a tie, players decide whether the stakes carry to the next hole. Any amount carried over goes to the next winning â??team,â? whether itâ??s the wolf or the hunters. Carry-overs make Wolf a more interesting game. Large pots make it advantageous to be the wolf, because the wolf doesnâ??t split the pot. Thus, strategy off the tee becomes important, and players will jockey to become the wolf.

Bridge
At the tee, one pair makes a â??bidâ? on how many strokes (play net or gross) it will take their team to complete the hole. For instance, if they bid 10, they are betting they can play the hole in 10 strokes or fewer combined. The bet is typically a dollar a player. The other team then has three options: 1) Bid lower than 10, 2) Take the bet, or 3) Take the bet and double it. The first team may then double it back, if they wish. Once the bidding finishes, play the hole. One option is to add a penalty point/dollar for each stroke the winning bidder incurs over bogey.

Flag Tournament
In a Flag Tournament, each player receives a certain number of strokes â?? usually the course par plus two-thirds of the playerâ??s full handicap. So, a 15-handicapper on a par-72 course gets 82 strokes. He then plays 82 shots and stops, planting a flag on the spot where his 82nd shot landed.

The flags should be provided on the first tee by the tournament director. Each participant should have his name taped to his flag. This way, as players make their way through the back nine, they can see where others bit the dust.

If a player finishes all 18 holes before using his total strokes, he should either keep playing until heâ??s out of strokes or stop. Under the first option, the winner is the player who plants his flag farthest on the course. Under the second option, the winner is whoever has the most strokes remaining after 18 holes. The reason two-thirds handicap is used, though, is so most people will finish somewhere inside of regulation.

One additional rule: You canâ??t plant a flag past a hole that you havenâ??t completed. In other words, if youâ??re 5 feet short of a green with one stroke left, you canâ??t blast the ball with your 2-iron onto the next fairway.

A flag tournament is essentially Stroke Play with a handicap, but the twist makes it a little more interesting for everyone involved.

Pink Ball
To play Pink Ball, you need to use teams of four. Each foursome has a hideous, bright pink ball that rotates among players. Of course, the ball can be any color, but the more obnoxious, the better. Player One uses it on the first hole, Player Two on the second, and so on. Take the best two net scores on each hole and add them. Whoever has the pink ball on a given hole must contribute to one of the two scores.

One variation: The golfer with the pink ball is automatically disqualified if he loses it. This is perhaps too harsh, so I donâ??t recommend it. Players should have a reason to stay interested, after all.

Another, less harsh variation: Keep the overall net score for the pink ball separately, and give a prize to the team with the best pink ball score. If a team loses the pink ball, itâ??s out. This makes for considerable camaraderie (and tension) if youâ??re playing on a course with a lot of water.

Trouble
Also known as â??Disaster,â? Trouble is a point game in which your actual score isnâ??t relevant, at least not directly. The goal is to collect the least number of â??trouble pointsâ? possible during a round.

Players shoot for a set amount per point, often a dollar. Thus, a player accumulating three trouble points owes each of his opponents three dollars.

Points are assigned as follows: Out of bounds = 1 point, Water hazard = 1 point, Bunker = 1 point, Three-putt = 1 point, Leaving ball in bunker = 2* points, Hitting from one bunker to another = 2 points, Four-putt = 3 points, Whiffed ball = 4 points. (Take an additional two points if you leave the ball in again and so on.)

A player can erase all the points accumulated on a given hole by making par. At the end of the round, simply net all the points against each other and settle up.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.  If you try them out, donâ??t  forget you can comment on this article and start a discussion with your golfing friends!