This side bet for your short game could win you a lot of money

February 28, 2020
Murphy BettIng Game

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There are any number of causes for bad golf: years of a fluky swing, an inability to hit long off the tee, struggles with your short irons, the list goes on. But for some golfers out there, they’ve made it work against their buddies by possessing a single strength, and then mastering it. They’ve figured out the short game.

For some, the short game isn’t just part of their golf game, it is their golf game. The first several hundred yards of a given hole can go any number of ways, but once they’re within 50 yards, they’re home free.

If any (or all) of these phrases describe you, we’ve got the perfect side bet for you: the Murphy. Here’s how it works.

The Big Picture

I’m told the bet’s name can be sourced back to longtime CBS, ESPN and NBC golf broadcaster Bob Murphy (though it’s likely existed in some version on golf courses for far longer than Murphy’s existence as a professional broadcaster or golfer). Calling a Murphy is akin to putting your cards directly on the table, for everyone to see. There’s no special sauce to including Murphies in your next round. All you need are at least two players who can agree on terms to begin the game. In its simplest form, a Murphy is one player’s bet on their own ability to get up-and-down from a given position.

The Rules

1) Set your amount

Before teeing off to begin your round, make sure you and your partner agree on how much each Murphy is worth. We recommend anywhere between $1-20 per Murphy, depending on your finances.

2) Decide whether you’re playing ‘optional’ or ‘automatic’

If you’re playing optional, your opponents are given the opportunity to “deny” your Murphy (not allow you to make money). If you’re playing automatic and you call a Murphy, your opponent must honor the bet.

3) Set your surface area

Can Murphies be called from the apron of the green? Can they be called from the fringe? Only from the rough or sand? These decisions are up to you and your group.

You can even call an adaptation around the greens to allow for a Murphy to be played for putts of a certain length.

4) Begin Playing!

If you have a pitch shot that falls within the parameters of your game, all you have to do is alert your opponents before your approach that you’ll be exercising a Murphy on the hole. If you get up and down from that location, you win the agreed-upon amount from each of your opponents. If you don’t, you pay that amount to the remainder of your opponents.

Your bank account is the only thing limiting the number of Murphies you can call in a given round.

Why you should play

Adding a Murphy bet to your game is a great way to spice things up around the greens. It’s simple, but can shoot a rod of energy into one of the more mundane portions of your average round. And if you’re a short game whiz, perhaps you’ll earn some of that greens fee back.

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