What’s that? Your third-wheel blues haven’t gone away? Maybe our first prescription wasn’t strong enough, or maybe we misdiagnosed the malady. Either way, there’s a game that we recommend you keep in your back pocket in the event of an unexpected three-man round: Wolfman.

Wolfman’s better-known (and often drunk) uncle, Wolf, is best played with four or more golfers. Under typical rules, each hole has a designated Wolf, who tees off first. The Wolf can choose to team up with others after everyone has hit their tee shots, or go Lone Wolf. The team with the lowest best-ball score on the hole wins. On the next hole, a new Wolf tees off, and the game continues.

But we’re here to treat the third-wheel blues. That’s where Wolfman comes in. Wolfman dispenses with Wolf’s formality of teeing order and counts every player’s score. It prevents players from riding the coattails of their partners and, in my opinion, encourages more strategic shotmaking. And most relevant to our purposes, it’s designed for groups of three.

How to Play

Wolfman has no specific teeing order on the first hole. The player who hits the middle-distance drive, regardless of location (as long as it’s in bounds), becomes the Wolf. To win the hole, the Wolf’s doubled net score needs to be lower than the combined net score of the other players. If each hole is worth one point, the Wolf antes two points against one from the other competitors. After the first hole, teeing order is determined by net score on the previous hole. In the case of par 3s, the Wolf becomes the second closest to the pin.

Here are a few scenarios that should clarify the scoring of Wolfman:

Case 1

The Wolf’s net score is a 4. Player B makes 4 and Player C makes 5.

In this case, the Wolf’s score is 8 and the other players’ is 9. The Wolf wins a point from each competitor, two total.

Case 2

The Wolf’s net score is a 5. Player B makes 4 and Player C makes 5.

In this case, the Wolf’s score is 10 and the other players’ is 9. Each competitor gets one point.

Case 3

The Wolf’s net score is a 5. Player B makes 4 and Player C makes 6.

In this case, both sides tie at 10. The points carry over to the next hole, where being Wolf gives you a chance at an even larger sum of points. Strategy off the tee becomes a premium.

To sum it up…

Wolfman presents a dilemma to players off each tee, regardless of the hole’s strategic interest. If you have the longest drive, you may score well, but you won’t necessarily win the most points because you won’t be Wolf. By the same token, hitting the middle-distance drive gives you a shot at the points but can leave you further from the hole than you would like. This game keeps all three players on their toes for the whole round.

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