Pub Golf

From Bars to Pars: What is Pub Golf All About?

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When it comes to pub golf, I’m reminded of some wild memories from my university days. Whenever I see. Whenever I see a group of youngsters running around in their see-through visors and inflatable clubs, I reminisce about the good ol’ days. So, what is Pub golf? For those lucky enough to remember their university experience and not just some drunken blur, pub golf brilliantly marries the competitive spirit of golf with the convivial atmosphere of a British pub crawl. 

In essence, players “tee off” at various pubs, aiming to finish their drinks with the fewest sips, much like golfers strive for fewer strokes. This lively game, blending strategy with sociability, transforms an ordinary night out into an engaging adventure. Ready to dive deeper into this spirited game? Let’s explore the game’s origins and navigate the rules governing this unique sport. Grab your imaginary clubs and embark on the pub golf journey! 

The Intriguing Origins of Pub Golf

When you first hear the term, the immediate question that pops up is, “What is pub golf?” But let’s take a step back and ponder why it carries such a distinct name. The brilliance of the title lies in its evocative blend of two beloved British pastimes: the sport of golf and the tradition of pub-going.

Historically, golf, with its lush greens, intricate strategies, and swear words bellowing across the fairway, has been a game of patience, precision, and sometimes frustration! On the other side, our cherished pubs stand as symbols of camaraderie, relaxation, and the occasional merry tipple. So, when innovative minds sought to bring a competitive twist to a leisurely evening at the pub, they looked to the greens of golf for inspiration.

In pub golf, just as on a golf course, players strive for efficiency – here, it’s about sipping your pint with the strategic finesse of a golfer sinking a challenging putt. Each drink in every pub becomes a ‘hole’, and just as golfers aim for the lowest number of strokes, pub golfers seek to “complete” their drink within a set number of sips. Hence, the evocative name: Pub Golf.

The merging of these two worlds offers an engaging challenge, making an ordinary pub crawl an exciting contest of skill and wit. And as you’re now in the know about its whimsical origins, let’s tee off into the specifics, shall we? The rules of this game are as intriguing as its name, ensuring every round is a story in the making.

Navigating the Fairways: Pub Golf Rules Unveiled

Every game thrives on rules, from the greens of St. Andrews to the snug corners of a local pub. And when it comes to pub golf rules, there’s a delightful mix of tradition and playful innovation to keep participants on their toes.

What are the rules of pub golf?
What are the rules of pub golf?

At its core, pub golf, like its namesake sport, is a game of efficiency and strategy. Here’s a quick breakdown to get you swinging:

  1. The Course: Every pub you visit represents a ‘hole’. Like a traditional golf course, a standard game typically comprises nine or eighteen pubs.
  2. Scoring: Each drink at a pub is assigned a ‘par’. This par denotes the number of sips (or gulps) one should take to finish the drink. If you down your drink in fewer sips than the par, you’re under par – well done! Conversely, extra sips beyond the par result in penalty points.
  3. Penalties: There’s more to look out for than just pars. Leaving a drink unfinished? That’s a penalty. Ordering something not on the day’s menu? That might earn you extra points too. And remember, in pub golf, you want to keep your score low!
  4. Dress Code: Though not a rule per se, it’s not uncommon for players to don golf attire. From argyle socks to sun visors, dressing the part adds to the fun and camaraderie.

Now that you’re versed in the core pub golf rules, you may want to add a touch of personal flair. Many groups introduce their own quirks and challenges, ensuring each game remains memorable. But remember, the essence is to enjoy responsibly.

Additional Rules to Add Fun and Challenge

Every game is amplified with a sprinkle of creativity and spontaneity. For those looking to up the ante and add some unique zest to their pub golf outing, consider these innovative rule additions:

  1. Water Hazard: Designate certain drinks or mixers as “water hazards”. Consuming these may lead to bonus points, making your game a bit trickier. 
  2. Sand Trap: Choose a specific pub or bar where players must order a drink that’s outside their usual preference, pushing them out of their comfort “sand” pit.

  3. Caddy’s Choice: In regular golf, a caddy assists with club selection. In pub golf, assign a ‘caddy’ who chooses a surprise drink for a player at a specific hole.

  4. Nighttime Golfing: Restrict certain pubs or drinks to be consumed only after sunset, adding a temporal challenge to the mix.

  5. Mulligan Shots: Just as golfers might take a mulligan (a do-over) for a poor shot, allow players a mulligan where they can reattempt a drink if they feel they’ve over-sipped.

  6. Time Limit: Introduce a stopwatch! Players have a set time to finish their drink, bringing urgency to the game.

Remember, while the aim is to heighten fun, safety should never be compromised. All participants should drink responsibly, ensuring a night of laughs and memorable tales without regrets.

Point Forfeit Rules to Keep Players on Their Toes

While scoring in pub golf is integral, introducing point forfeits can add layers of strategy and unpredictability. For those keen on challenging their mates and ensuring everyone’s on their best game, consider these forfeit rules:

  1. Late Tee Off: Players arriving late to a designated pub incur a point penalty, emphasising punctuality. 
  2. Wrong Club: Ordering a drink not on the day’s roster or diverging from the specified menu results in forfeiting points.

  3. Bunker Behaviour: Any boisterous or disruptive conduct (decided by group consensus) is penalised, ensuring good sportsmanship and respect for other patrons.

  4. Out of Bounds: Venturing outside the chosen pubs or making unscheduled stops can cause a points deduction; sticking to the route is key.

  5. Lost Ball: Leaving behind personal belongings like a jacket, wallet, or phone at a pub results in a penalty, reinforcing mindfulness.

  6. Caddy’s Misdirection: If a player’s ‘caddy’ (if you’re using the Caddy’s Choice rule) suggests a drink and it turns out to be out of stock, both the player and the caddy get a point forfeit.
  7. Double Bogey: Players failing to complete two consecutive drinks within their par will face an added penalty, pushing them to strategise better.

  8. Stalled Play: Taking exceedingly long to order or holding up the group can result in docked points, keeping the game’s pace lively.

While these forfeits add layers of challenge, it’s crucial to remember that the primary goal is fun and camaraderie. Balancing competitiveness with good humour ensures everyone walks away with cherished memories and eager plans for the next round.

With rules in hand, the next logical step is plotting your course. Let’s embark on creating the perfect pub golf route!

Crafting the Perfect Pub Golf Route

How to plan a pub golf route?
How to plan a pub golf route?

Crafting the ideal pub golf route requires foresight, strategy, and a keen sense of fun. Your route not only determines the game’s ebb and flow but also ensures players’ safety and convenience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating an unforgettable pub golf journey:

  1. Starting Point: Always select an easily accessible starting venue. It sets the tone and ensures everyone can gather without hassle.

  2. Proximity is Key: While the allure of diverse pubs across town might tempt, choosing venues closer to each other is wise. This minimises travel time and reduces the reliance on vehicles, aligning with the essence of a traditional crawl.

  3. Diverse Drink Menus: Part of the fun is navigating varied drinks. So, opt for pubs that offer a mix of local ales, craft beers and maybe even a cheeky cocktail.

  4. Safety Checkpoints: Ensure a few ‘rest stops’ or ‘watering holes’ on your route, where players can hydrate with non-alcoholic beverages or grab a bite. This not only breaks the alcohol intake but also re-energises players for the next leg.

  5. End Point: Much like the start, the endpoint should be convenient for everyone. Whether it’s near a tube station or a popular landmark, easy access to transportation ensures everyone gets home safely.

  6. Weather Watch: Check the weather if your route involves open-air venues or beer gardens. A sprinkle of rain might add to the adventure, but you wouldn’t want a downpour!

  7. Gather Feedback: Before finalising, run your planned route by the group. Collaborative decisions often lead to the most enjoyable experiences.

With your route plotted and spirits high, all that’s left is to tee off and immerse in the vibrant world of pub golf. Happy golfing!

An Example Route for Pub Golf in London

For those wondering how to craft an impeccable pub golf route, here’s an example set in the heart of the capital, London, with its eclectic mix of historic taverns and modern bars.

Hole 1: The Lamb and Flag

  • Par: 5
  • Drink: Full pint of ale
  • Walking Time to Next Hole: ~3 minutes

Hole 2: The Roundhouse

  • Par: 4
  • Drink: Double gin and tonic
  • Walking Time to Next Hole: ~6 minutes

Hole 3: The Harp

  • Par: 5
  • Drink: Full pint of cider
  • Walking Time to Next Hole: ~10 minutes

Hole 4: The Cambridge

  • Par: 6
  • Drink: Full pint of lager
  • Walking Time to Next Hole: ~6 minutes

Hole 5: The Cross Keys

  • Par: 1
  • Drink: A shot of whiskey or rum
  • Walking Time to Next Hole: ~12 minutes

Hole 6: The John Snow

  • Par: 6
  • Drink: Full pint of stout
  • Walking Time to Next Hole: ~6 minutes

Hole 7: The Blue Posts

  • Par: 4
  • Drink: Large glass of house wine (red or white)
  • Walking Time to Next Hole: ~4 minutes

Hole 8: The Toucan

  • Par: 6
  • Drink: Full pint of Guinness
  • Walking Time to Next Hole: ~6 minutes

Hole 9: The Queen’s Head

  • Par: 1
  • Drink: A shot of tequila or sambuca
  • Notes: You’ve completed the course!

So, don your golf attire and embark on this Central London pub golf adventure!


In the heart of British pub culture lies the entertaining game of pub golf, a fusion of traditional golf’s scoring with the sociable nature of a pub crawl. Understanding “What is pub golf?” takes us on a journey from its quirky name to its playful rules. Crafting the perfect pub golf route, especially in iconic locations like Central London, enhances the experience. It’s a game of strategy, camaraderie, and responsible fun. Whether plotting courses, setting rules, or embarking on a spirited adventure with mates, pub golf promises a night to remember. Ready to plan your own pub golf adventure? Cheers to the next round!

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