How to Play the Three Club Monte Golf Game

Two golfers on a green at sunset
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Three Club Monte (or 3 Club Monte) is a golf format that requires golfers to pick just three golf clubs to use during their round. That's it: Three clubs (with one typical exception—more on that below) is all you can carry.

Pick any three clubs you want—a hybrid, a 5-iron and a 9-iron, for example—and those are the only clubs you can use during the round of golf.

Three Club Monte can be used as a tournament format or golf association playday format, but it is probably more common as a game played by a group of golf buddies.

Does the Putter Count as One of the Three Clubs?

In games like Three Club Monte, one of the key questions is always how the putter is treated: Does the putter count as one of the three clubs? Or are golfers in a Three Club Monte game or tournament given the putter as a freebie and then choose three additional clubs?

In Three Club Monte, it is almost always the case that golfers get to use their putters and choose three additional clubs. The putter does not count as one of the three. However, that is up to the tournament organizers or, if the game is being played by a group of friends, it is up to the golfers in the group to decide.

(If your group decides the putter is not a freebie, then you might consider putting with a hybrid or with the leading edge of the shortest iron you'll carry for the round.)

Note that once you choose your three other clubs, you cannot change them during the round. So choose wisely.

Three Club Monte is a Good Practice Game for Specialty Shots

The short-set games (those that limit the number of clubs golfers carry to many fewer than the 14 allowed under the rules) are good ones for golfers who are playing practice rounds or just out having some fun, because they can help golfers learn specialty shots. Using just three clubs, as in Three Club Monte, you'll have to do a lot of choking down, dialing back the swing (or dialing it up), opening the clubface, and so on. You'll be attempting knockdown shots, half-shots and so forth.

Other Games That Limit Your Number of Clubs

Three Club Monte is part of a class of similar games that require golfers to play with fewer than the standard 14 clubs. The one that is most limiting is called One Club. Can you guess how many clubs you get to carry in a game of One Club? Note that in One Club, the one club you choose is in addition to the putter, so you get the putter plus one other club.

Five of Clubs is the name of a game in which golfers are limited to the use of five golf clubs (the putter is often not a freebie so counts as one of the five, although that varies according to local preferences). And the game most commonly called Bag Raid or Pick Up Sticks is a match play game in which the loser of a hole gets to remove one club from the bag of his or her opponent. Every time a golfer wins a hole, he or she loses another club.