Calcutta Golf

Golf is a game of relaxation and leisure. Sometimes, however, to spice up the competition and make things a little more interesting, players will partake in various kinds of wagers. One of those types of wagers is a Calcutta golf tournament.

What is Calcutta in Golf?

Calcutta auctions are an exciting way to set stakes for golf tournaments. Although Calcutta auctions are prevalent in various other betting sports, it is also quite prominent in golf tournaments.

Calcutta auctions give players a chance to “bid” on the team they think will win the tournament. The teams in the competition are “owned” by whoever places the highest bid on their team.

Whoever “owns” the winning team of the tournament will receive the predetermined pot percentage allotted to the first-place team. The total pot generally equals the total sum of the bids placed on all groups.

📢 Need To Know: Often, the organizers of a Calcutta auction will use software to determine the odds of specific teams winning the tournament. This allows bidders to weigh the options on who and how much they are willing to bid in their Calcutta golf strategy.

Below are the typical rules of a Calcutta Golf Auction.

Calcutta Golf Rules

  • Golfers can bid on the team they think will win the tournament in an auction
  • Whoever bids the highest on any given team “owns” that team
  • You are allowed you bid on your own team to win the tournament
  • If someone else wins the bid for your team, you are sometimes entitled to a percentage of the winnings of the pot, if you choose to “buy out” the percentage from the owner
  • All of the auction money belongs to the final pot

Varying Rules

Although the above are general Calcutta rules, there are many varieties in how to run a golf Calcutta.

For example, sometimes, “owners” of a team may be required to offer a percentage of the winnings if their team is victorious. But the team players may not be required to buy the portion.

Also, golf Calcutta payouts can vary depending on the organization. In some cases, the winning team will receive 50% of the pot with the second-place team receiving 30% and the third-place team receiving 20%.

📋 Keep in mind: There can also be other configurations depending on how many ways the organizers decide to split the pot.

What are Flights in Calcutta Golf?

A flight in Calcutta golf is the group of golfers in a specific handicap range.

It is a way of separating the low handicappers from the high handicappers to keep the competition tighter and fairer.

For example, one flight may be golfers in the 1-5 handicap range, with another flight containing golfers in the 11-20 handicap range.

It would be up to the organizers of every tournament to decide how the flights would work and which golfers belong in each.

The legality of Calcutta tournaments falls into somewhat of a grey area.

Ultimately, it would depend on the gambling laws in each region to determine whether a Calcutta tournament is considered illegal.

There are a few things to note around the legality of Calcutta tournaments.

Many golf clubs, tournament organizers, and participants may be aware that a Calcutta tournament may not be legal in their region.

In some cases, all of the participants in the Calcutta tournament may decide to “look the other way” and take it as a friendly wager. They may say that it is no harm, no foul, as long as everyone agrees to the rules.

When it comes to the governing bodies of golf, they discourage competitive amateurs from participating in Calcutta tournaments.

📢 Need To Know: According to the USGA’s official rules, an amateur golfer is not permitted to receive prize money for playing in a competition.

Taking home some of the pot from a Calcutta tournament could jeopardize the golfer’s amateur status.

A Calcutta auction in golf blurs the line between a golfer playing for prize money and simple gambling. 

So ultimately, if gambling is illegal in a specific region, technically, Calcutta auctions are as well. But that doesn’t mean they won’t still happen anyway.


Calcutta’s can be a fun way to put a little more pressure into the mix of a golf tournament. 

Keep in mind the legality in your region and whether you’ll be at risk of losing your amateur status by participating. Any comments or inquiries can be left in the comment section below.


How does a Calcutta pay out?

A Calcutta pays out to the first three golfers and their respective owners. Golfers are purchased during an auction before the game the winnings are paid out to the top three golfers in the tournament. All winning bids are put into a pot and then distributed in a pre-determined format. Most frequent distribution is 70% to the winner, 20% to the second place finisher, and 10% to the third place finisher.

Can you buy yourself in a Calcutta?

Yes, you can buy yourself in a Calcutta. During the auction, you can buy yourself or your team for the Calcutta.

How can I win Calcutta?

You can win a Calcutta by winning the tournament or buying the winning golfer. Golfers partaking in a Calcutta are both a player and an owner. However, each golfer must buy another golfer during the auction preceding the tournament.

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Lawrence Smelser has been part of the Golfible writing staff since 2019 and is a freelance golf journalist. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour including the U.S. Masters with He holds a journalism Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas. Learn more about our team at Golfible on our About Us page.

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