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Rabbit on the links?

Editor’s Note: This Get Into Golf column was previously ran in The Union

Rabbits, squirrels and gophers … greens keepers generally aren’t pleased to hear of these little rodents on the course, but for the players, they can be a lot of fun. We’re not talking about the fuzzy creatures that burrow in the ground. We’re talking about a game within the game.



Get Into Golf has explained various types of play, including match play (a hole-by-hole format in which one side competes against another) and stroke play (in which one’s aggregate score is accumulated). These are golf’s staples.

But who wants to do the same thing everyday? Sometimes it’s good to change things up a bit. We drive the same car. We go to the same stores. Let’s change up the golf games, and we’ll start with a rabbit.




The rabbit is a game for three or more players and can be played by multiple groups. It is similar to match play in that we don’t need to keep track of the scores. We just track the rabbits, more specifically the legs of the rabbit. A unit or value is determined, and we are ready to go.

Again, think of it as a form of match play. In a way, it is match play for more than two players. On the first tee, everyone is equal. No one has won a hole and the rabbit is “running.” When someone wins a hole outright, he/she in match play would be 1UP, but this is a different game and we are using rabbit terms, so you have won a “leg”.

What happens if a player with the leg wins another hole? Well, that player now has two legs. This is good because if you lose a leg (by losing the hole), you still have another leg. Don’t lose that one though! When the leg has been taken from someone, the rabbit is on the loose and is again ‘running’.

The object is to end the game, the round, with a leg. Or possess more legs than holes that remain to be played. Remember that you do not have a single opponent. Everyone that you are playing with is now trying to win the next hole and get that leg from you.

The game can last throughout the entire 18-hole round or you can create smaller sections. One popular variation is to play six-hole rabbits. Three rabbits over the course of 18-holes. These smaller rabbits create a possibility for more than one winner or, if a golfer is playing well, he/she might win all three.

Oh, what about squirrels and gophers? A twist on the rabbit is to pay out double if the leg is won with a birdie (squirrel) or triple if the leg is won with an eagle (gopher).

You know, if this was tennis the scores, would start “Love-Love.” In golf, we use bird names for the better scores (my favorite being ‘albatross’), and these games are named after rodents (go figure).

You’d think we paid our debts with pelts and skins … hmmm, skins. We’ll save that one for a later date.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at jrenslow@pga.com.


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