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Each month we will try to bring to you straightforward examples of popular - and not so popular - games on the course; games that will make your rounds more challenging and fun to play. In this next installment of games of the month, we'll tackle a game you can play against one competitor or against fifteen: 'Chicago.'

Chicago is based on a quota system, where each golfer is given a quota based on their course handicap. The quota of points is determined by the following formula:

39 - Course Handicap

As an example, a golfer with a 1 handicap would have a quota of 38 points, while a golfer with a 20 handicap would have a quota of 19. The minimum quota is 2 points, given to golfers with handicaps of 37 and above.

The winner of the Chicago match is the player whose point total for 18 holes most exceeds his or her quota (some golfers play that if no one exceeds their quota, the winner is the golfer who comes the closest). So then, how do you score points? Points are awarded based on your gross score for each hole.

Chicago Point System
Score   Points
Eagle   8 Points
Birdie   4 Points
Par   2 Points
Bogey   1 Points

Note that points are based on gross (not handicap adjusted) scores. Your handicap is taken into account when calculating your quota. Also note that the number of points in your quota is 3 more than the points you would receive if you shot your handicap by scoring pars or higher.

At the end of the match, the winner wins a set 'pot' (or if enough golfers are playing, it can be split between the top two or three competitors). An alternative method, often used when playing in a foursome, is to have the other players pay the winner the difference between their net scores (points above quota) multiplied by the value of each point (decided upon ahead of time). Some golfers like to add pressure to the match by requiring third place to pay both second (the difference between the net scores for third and second multiplied by the point value) and first, and for fourth place to pay the other three players. This type of match can quickly burn a hole in your pocket.

In the example below we display a simplified Chicago match between two players. As a 13 handicap, Donna has a quota of 26 (39-13) points. Her competitor, Rachel, has a quota of 14 points:

Chicago Example

The red numbers on the scorecard indicate cumulative point totals for each player. For example, on the 5th hole Rachel shoots a bogey and increases her point total to 5. On the same hole, Donna shoots a birdie, gaining 4 points. After the 18th hole Donna ends up with 30 points, 10 more than Rachel. But remember, the winner is the golfer who most exceeds her quota. The quota for each golfer is listed in the HDCP column, and the net score is listed in the NET column. On a net score basis (points - quota), Rachel is the winner by two points and wins two times the bet, which was originally set at $1000 a point.

Even if you're a small bettor, you'll enjoy a game of Chicago - especially if you play among a large group of friends. Try it next time you play.

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