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Zach Johnson’s Favorite Golf Gambling Story: When Doubling Down Goes All Wrong

Zach Johnson’s Favorite Golf Gambling Story: When Doubling Down Goes All Wrong article feature image

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Zach Johnson

The Action Network spoke with several of today’s top professional golfers to find out their favorite personal golf betting stories.

  • Who: Zach Johnson
  • When: About 20 years ago
  • Where: Near St. Louis

As a college player at Drake University, Johnson partnered in a match with a friend from Northern Iowa against their two coaches, who were also brothers. Down late in the match, Johnson’s team upped the bet in an attempt to minimize the damages. Instead, what happened next is a story he still tells to this day.

“I don’t play many gambling rounds out here, and if I do, it’s pretty boring. You lose or you win, whatever.

“But I have a good one from back in college.

“My college coach [Jamie Bermel] from Drake, his brother [John Bermel] was the coach at Northern Iowa. So we traveled with those guys. We’re both Division I programs in the state of Iowa and both decent programs at the time, so we’d travel with them and play practice rounds with them occasionally.

“We were at a conference tournament in Illinois, east and south of St. Louis. Me and my buddy [Matt Lowe] who played at Northern Iowa were playing the brothers, our coaches. And we’re playing a game called Vegas.

“This is how Vegas works: Let’s say you’re betting a dollar each point. You and I are partners. You make a par and I make a bogey, so we have 54; they make two 4s, so they have 44. So that’s 10 points and 10 bucks right there. If they make a birdie, it flips. Then it would be 20 bucks.

“So, we’re on the 17th hole, which is a par 3, and we press. We’re down a fair amount at this point. We bump the bet from $1 a point to $2 or $5 a point, whatever it was.

“I have the honor and I flag it, but it lands past the pin, takes one bounce and goes into the back rough. I didn’t get it up and down; missed a 4-footer. My partner hits it on the green, two-putts and makes par. That’s a 43.

“My coach gets up there and hits it to about a foot. His brother makes it [for a hole-in-one]. Eagles double whatever the bet is.

“So they make a 12 and we have a 43, plus it’s doubled.

“Let’s just say, as a college kid, I didn’t have that money.

“I honestly can’t remember how I paid it off.”

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