Type Strokes
Alias 39s, Thirty Nines
Format Tournament
Number of players 2, 3, 4+
Team or Individual play Both
  • This game can be played as a tournament or as a betting game only by players with handicaps.
  • Each player begins with a negative amount of points based on their handicaps, and then different points are awarded for positive achievements throughout the round. The goal of this game is to earn more points and make up for the negative points (called “clearing the hurdle”). The player or team with the overall highest score at the end of the round wins the game.
  • Scratch golfers start off with a score of -39, 1-handicappers start with -38, 2-handicappers with -37, 3-handicappers start with -36 points, and so on, until you reach the 36-handicappers. Players with handicaps of 36 and above start with -3 points.
  • For positive points, bogeys are worth 1 point, pars are worth 2 points, birdies are worth 4 points, eagles are worth 8 points, and a double eagle is worth 16 points.
  • For a game with individual players, the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

    Chicago as a tournament:

    • When playing in a team tournament, the negative points of all team members are added to create a single starting score. Then, the game continues the same way. Players focus on clearing the hurdle and moving into positive points. The team with the highest score at the end of the round wins the game.
    • If any member of a team finishes with a negative score, it is subtracted from the team total. For example, if the combined score of a team was 25, but one of the players finished with minus-4, then the team’s total score would be 21 instead of 25.

              Chicago as a betting game:

                • There are different variations when playing Chicago as a betting game. Some common variations include every golfer putting in the agreed-upon amount of money into the pot, which then goes to the winner at the end of the round. When playing in teams, the pot is divided into two, and half the amount goes to the winning team while the other half goes to the highest-scoring player.
                • Or, each positive point scored by the players can be worth a set amount of money which is paid up after the end of the round.