Gambles, Game go together

After last week’s column about how golf could be used as a fund-raiser for good causes, my mind started thinking about other ways golf and money “go together.” One of the more personal connections I came up with was gambling on the golf course.

For me personally, I’m thankful I grew up with a father who taught me how to gamble (both on and off the course). And while the dollar amounts were small, I always enjoyed being able share the thrill of betting with my dad on something.

Of course, things don’t always go as planned ...

One time when I was in an undisclosed grade at an undisclosed school, I left my “pick” sheet on my desk in homeroom. Apparently my 10-cent (yes, 10 cents) picks upset someone and I was turned into the principal.

Nervous as heck the whole bus ride home, I walked in and found my dad waiting for me. The school had called home.

Unsure how my father was going to handle my first ever negative school call, I was relieved when I was told, “Tell him/her you’ll lay 3-2 you don’t get caught again.” Classic pops.

When it came to golf, my dad taught me how to play best ball and team bets. I don’t know why, but I can honestly say it’s reassuring to know that the next time I golf with my dad and my two brothers, I guarantee my father gets on the first tee and declares: “Okay, I get a stroke a hole and we’re playing one bet best ball, one bet team.”

These days I play most of my golf at The Lake Club in Poland. Four years or so ago, I started to play in what is known out there as “The Game.”

As an upstart entrepreneur then and a brand new insurance agent now, I think I might almost crack the top 99 percent when it comes to wealthiest members. But the great part is, that doesn’t matter to The Game.

I was told back then that as long as I throw my money in the middle and play by the rules (no mulligans or gimmies), I’m welcome in The Game.

Fast forward four years later and some of the best friendships in my life have come from that Game. And whether right or wrong, they probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for gambling on the golf course.

And I’m sure I’m not alone. I know groups of guys all over the Mahoning Valley who play all sorts of different games. And whether it’s greenies, skins, OSCAR, wolf, bingo-bango-bongo, Vegas, high-low, medal, front-back-total, sweeps, two-downs, four-downs, blind draws, the ring, COD or some other game I’ve never heard of, I would be willing to lay 3-2 that if you asked each person, they’d all tell you the same thing I’ll say ...

“It’s not about the money, it’s about The Game.”

Jonah Karzmer is a former player at Youngstown State University and a member at The Lake Club. He works in insurance when not writing a golf column every Sunday in The Vindicator. Email him at

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