What Is a Calcutta in Golf?

Have you ever been at the golf course and heard someone mention a “Calcutta”? Are you curious about what it is and how to use it? A Calcutta in golf is an informal betting structure used for simple wagering among players.

It can be a fun way for golfers of all levels to make their rounds more exciting, depending on their comfort level with risk and gambling. Understanding the basics of a Calcutta can help demystify this popular form of friendly competition and provide many enjoyable hours out on the links. Keep reading to learn more!

The History & Origins of the Golf Calcutta 

The Golf Calcutta originated in the 1800s in Kolkata, India, at The Royal Calcutta Turf Club. The invention of The Golf Calcutta is credited to that very club, which was founded by a group of British administrators.

The administrators took cues from cricket and built The Golf Calcutta around the same principles. The game is played using traditional golf rules and regulations. However, it is distinguished because participants do not keep their own score. Instead, the club administrator keeps track of each player’s performance on behalf of the entire group.

The Golf Calcutta style has evolved over time, becoming a widespread, popular form of gambling worldwide. Despite its controversial elements, Golf Calcutta remains an important part of history, especially important to those with any affiliation or knowledge on the long-standing origin of the game in Kolkata.

What is a Golf Calcutta?

It’s an exciting auction-style event for golf fans! Players and teams are put up for bid and whoever bids the highest, gets that player in their team.

What makes it even more thrilling is that if your chosen golfer or team wins The Masters, you get the highest payout from the pot.

All of the winning bidder’s money goes into a pot and winning payments are distributed in accordance with a pre-determined format, giving everyone an equal chance to win.

How Does a Golf Calcutta Work?

Usually one of the bettors participates in selecting a name to start the bidding process, and then all other players engage in an auction where they bid until one emerges with a higher offer.

While this can lead to some great strategies – if you know bettor A fancies Bryson DeChambeau, then Bettor B can drive up his price – it also comes with its own risk losing priceless money on a lesser valued player.

In setting up any Calcutta like this, it’s best to assess the quality of competition, which helps you play smarter and gain an edge over your opponents.

How to Run a Golf Calcutta?

Planning and executing a golf Calcutta tournament requires thoughtful preparation. To prepare, the planner will first select all necessary participants, including golfers, golf courses, and auction participants. 

They must then set up the tournament format, typically an 18-hole stroke-play tournament. Once that is done, the planner can initiate the auction process by providing information about teams to all guests before the event. 

During the auction, each guest can purchase ownership of a participating team before play begins. As teams begin their matches, owners can follow along as their purchased team competes for victory throughout the tournament. 

After all, games have concluded, winnings will be paid out to those lucky winning owners at the tournament end.

How Does a Calcutta Payout Work?

Many tournament organizers turn to software programs to apply odds and determine win-place-show amounts. Typically, the pot is divided as follows: 70% of the prize money goes to the winner, 20% to second place, and 10% for third place. In a 5-place scenario, these payouts are generally 50%, 20%, 15%, 10%, and 5%. 

For those not too familiar with the system, here’s how it works; when you make your bid, let’s say Dustin Johnson in 2022 Masters tournament, if he wins you would receive a higher share of the pot. However, should Jon Rahm win with Johnson in second place you’d still take home a significant portion (20%) of the pot.

For winning golfers and anyone involved in the betting activity, understanding how these payout structures work is essential for success. Be sure to keep up with all rules surrounding these payouts for your gaming endeavour.


Why is it Called a Calcutta?

The term “Calcutta” has been used for centuries to describe a golf auction, originated in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) India. This type of betting is still popular in its original city today.

What are the Odds of Winning a Calcutta?

Odds can vary depending on the number of golfers or teams in the tournament, as well as the skill level of each. Generally speaking, the higher a golfer’s talent and ability level, the better their odds of winning.

Is a Calcutta in golf legal?

In most countries, calcutta golf is legal provided it’s organized and operated in accordance with local gambling laws. Before engaging in such activities, it’s important to research the relevant regulations and ensure full compliance.

How Much Money Can You Make in Calcutta for Golf?

The amount of money made from calcutta golf depends on the size and structure of a tournament. A small-scale tournament with four bettors might award $800 to the winner, but larger tournaments can offer much higher payouts. Ultimately, it’s up to the participants to decide how much they want to gamble for each bet.

Should You Play Calcutta as an Amateur Golfer?

According to the USGA, the answer is no. Despite being legal, they oppose Calcutta as it puts your amateur status at risk. Should you win, you aren’t allowed to collect your award until after you have reached professional level golf – and even then only if you sign up for a tournament for professional players. 

Be aware that the professional level may expose you to higher golf fees. For any avid golfer concerned about maintaining their amateur status and costs associated with reaching the level of pro, participation in Calcutta should be avoided at all costs.


Calcutta golf tournaments are a fun way to add an exciting betting element to a golf tournament. With its auction-style bidding, a Golf Calcutta can be a great way to increase the excitement of any golf event while giving everyone an equal chance to win.

Just make sure to research relevant regulations and ensure full compliance before engaging in calcutta betting activities.

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