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What Is A Calcutta In Golf? Find Out Here!

What Is A Calcutta?

Golf is an amazing sport that has been around for centuries. It’s played in different ways around the world but there is one way to play that is unique to the US – Calcutta Golf.

A Calcutta is a bet made during a golf tournament or other sporting event. It’s also known as “hole in one” golf. Calcutta is played in a large field where there are 18 holes.

Each hole comprises two shots – a long shot and then a short shot. The goal is to land the ball on the green and get a point.

If you hit the ball into the water, you lose a point. If you miss the green, you lose a point too. At the end of each hole, you add up your points and if your total is higher than the other players, you win.

If you’re interested in learning more about Calcutta golf, keep on reading!

Why is it called a Calcutta?

The name Calcutta comes from the city of Kolkata, in India. During colonial time commitment, this was the capital of British Bengal.

Therefore, golfers call their game with this type of betting “Calcutta”.

In the 19th century, some American cities started playing golf instead of baseball because they were tired of losing so much extra money every year at the baseball games.

They thought that since they didn’t have any good first-place team anymore, maybe they could start winning at the actual tournament. They used the same rules as in cricket.

So they added the wager element to make the game exciting. That’s how we got our word.

Calcutta-type tournament.

How to Play a Calcutta?

Step 1: To begin, each player gets three balls: two for his first round and another one for his second round.

When he plays his first round, he uses all 3 balls. He can only use these 3 balls once per person. This means after using them once, he needs to find new ones.

Step 2: After completing the first round, everyone adds together their scores. Whoever wins the most rounds will be declared the winner.

But wait! There are more things going on here.

Step 3: If someone hits a birdie on the 1st hole, that counts as 2 points for him. But if he misses the fairway by hitting a tree stump which goes over the green and lands in the lake, he loses 4 points.

Step 4: Then, when adding up the scorecard, the golfer who lost those extra points would actually come out ahead, even though he may not think so.

Missing the fairway doesn’t just cost you four points.

It costs you double-points, because you missed the fairway AND ALSO missed the green. So you now have eight points deducted from your overall score.

Step 5: Now let’s say you hit the perfect drive on the third hole. Your score card looks like this:–12 Points.

Step 6: Because you won both rounds, you’ll still count your original 3 balls. Therefore, your final score is 14 + 13 27.

That makes sense, right? And remember, you don’t need to worry about what kind of team handicap you should play against others, because nobody has a handicap yet.

You can always adjust later. Just focus on getting better with practice.

Rules of a Calcutta 

Rule 1: Each player starts off with three balls. You cannot reuse or re-roll the balls. Once used, the balls become part of the course and must be found before you can use them again.   

Rule 2: When starting your first round, putt the three balls down without picking them until you’ve completed the hole. Pickup and carry during your round is strictly prohibited. No exceptions.

 Rule 3: The ball closest to where it went into the water/lake is considered being in the water/lake. It stays there unless it’s retrieved. Retrieving does NOT require an additional shot.   

Rule 4: Do not pick up the ball while walking between holes. Any violation results in disqualification. Penalty stroke awarded.   

 Rule 5: During the second round, players can retrieve dropped balls. However, no penalty strokes are given for retrieving dropped balls.   

Rule 6: All penalties resulting from violations of Rules 1 through 5 are assessed according to Rule 7 below.   

Rule 7: Should a player violate Rule 6, then the following applies:

For every special time they violated Rule 6, they get penalized by losing one point. They lose two points for every subsequent instance.

Example: Player picks up five plenty of time, receives 10 points deduction.     

Why golfers play Calcutta?

There are many reasons people play Calcutta. Some cite boredom, some enjoy challenging themselves, but mostly it’s fun. Why else do you think we’re called “Calcutas”?

Some golfers also take pride in being able to complete such a challenge. We call ourselves “Golfing Legends”.

Others find this game interesting simply because it tests their mental skills and physical ones.

The goal here isn’t necessarily to win at all costs. It’s more about enjoying yourself.

So try it out today! Have fun playing Calcutta!

Tips on how to improve your game

  • Always keep your head facing forward – Never look at the ground
  • Move your eyes along the clubface as much as possible. This will help you maintain proper alignment throughout impact.
  • Squeeze your backswing muscles tight, aiming to contact the target within the shortest distance possible
  • Keep your arms relaxed and swing through rather than over your body
  • Swing the club away from your body and follow through towards the target
  • Make sure that your shoulders turn slightly inward and aim to strike the middle of the face.
  • Relax your entire body when swinging, allowing yourself to feel comfortable and confident
  • Practice a lot! There’s nothing more satisfying than improving your game day after day…it just gets easier and faster.


The Calcutta is the unique tournament benefits you will ever play in. It is unlike any other event you have ever taken part in.

The Calcutta team format is unlike any other in golf. It is unlike any other in sport. It is unlike any other in gambling event or amateur events. It is unlike any other in life.

Gary Hodges

Gary Hodges

Gary Thompson founded GolfBoxy in 2020 to provide accessible golf advice for average players. An avid golfer of 15+ years, Gary draws on his own experience as a lifelong bogey golfer to offer practical tips and unbiased reviews focused on the needs of recreational players.

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