CHAPTER 1 GAMES FOR TWOSOMES Whether it's a quick nine holes after work with the guy in the cubicle next to you or a match against your old nemesis, there are literally dozens of games you can play against a lone opponent. Even if paired with two strangers who fill out your foursome, most of these games can still be played without interrupting the rounds of the other two players. AIR HAMMER A skins game in which the value of a hole can be doubled, but only when a shot is in the air. So if there's a $1 bet on a hole, and a player's opponent hits a tee shot that's bound for a water hazard, while the shot is in the air the player can literally yell "Hammer!" at his opponent, and the bet has now doubled to $2 for that hole. Low score wins on each hole (unlike skins, the bet typically doesn't carry to the next hole when the previous hole is halved). Of course, the opponent has the right to "hammer" back when the player hits an errant shot, as long as it's airborne, so that $2 bet could go to $4 or $8, etc. STRATEGY TIPS: Obviously you'll want to "air hammer" someone if their shot is heading for big trouble. But if you get hammered, don't fret. Your opponent still has to play the hole and can screw it up just as easily. If you are in big trouble, don't try for the miracle shot. Play safe and wait for your opponent to make a mistake. BACKGAMMON (ALSO KNOWN AS HAMMER) Holes are worth a predetermined amountlike a skins gameand the low score wins that hole. However, during the play of the hole, either player can double the bet, at anytime, if they think they can win the holeeven after the other player has holed out. The opponent can accept the new wager or decline it. An opponent who declines loses the original amount the hole was being played for. An opponent who accepts can double the new bet, and now it's up to the other player to accept or decline the new bet. This process can continue until both players hole out. STRATEGY TIPS: A decisive advantage off the tee is grounds for doubling the bet. It's also wise to double if your opponent gets into a very difficult upanddown situation near the green. If you're looking for a reason to double the bet, a good time to do it is when your score is all but secured and your opponent has a tricky putt to win the hole. This extra pressure often produces a missed putt. BACK IT UP A variation on the traditional skins game. The player who wins a hole has the option of pocketing the value or leaving it on the table and doubling the value of the skins by winning the next holeknown as "backing it up." In other words, a player wins a skin worth $1. If this golfer leaves it on the table and wins the next skin, the value doubles and the player wins $4 for the two skins (two skins worth $2 each). If someone else wins the hole, that winner gets only the original value of two skins ($2). If the hole is halved (tied), the value is reduced to a normal skin amount for the next hole (now three skins for $3). Remember, the goal is to back up a win with another win. A variation of the game gives a double bonus for a backitup skin that is won with a natural birdie or better. In essence, those skins would be worth $8. STRATEGY TIPS: After winning a skin, consider two things before trying to "back it up": how your opponent is playing and whether the next hole suits your eye. If you are using handicaps, always back it up if the next hole is a stroke hole for you. (A stroke hole is a hole in which you subtract a stroke from your score but your opponent doesn't.) BAG RAID See gameKaspriske, Ron is the author of 'Golf Digest's Complete Book of Golf Betting Games ', published 2007 under ISBN 9780385514910 and ISBN 0385514913.