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Ladder Golf - A Great Backyard Game

Updated on September 13, 2014
Nanciajohnson profile image

I enjoy painting fantasy art, going to art shows, creating delicious dishes, being with my grandkids, taking walks, and reading good books.

Ladder Golf is a Fun Backyard Game for Everyone

I have gotten hooked on playing Ladder Golf when the grandchildren come to visit. It is a fun outdoor game that all ages can play together. Ladder golf is the perfect family game to add to your time spent together. It is not to too strenuous for the younger child or older adult and is more of a game of accuracy and balance.

I learned how to play this game at work. I work at an active adult retirement community and Ladder Golf is very popular. In fact, I entered a Ladder Golf Tournment a couple years ago. While my Ladder Golf partner and I did not win a prize, we sure won a fun day with friends. This contest is held every year in the spring complete with a lunch barbecue and party afterwards for all the participants.

Ladder Golf is easy to learn. It is also easy to put together so you can start playing right away. This is important if younger children are going to play since they hate to wait to start a game. What I love about this backyard or outdoor game is that all ages can play together. The odds of winning are pretty equal between a child and a grandparent. It is all in the swing and toss. I think you will find Ladder Golf as fun as I do.

History of Ladder Golf

Where did this game come from?

Ladder Golf has a brief history. There is not too much written about the origin of Ladder Golf, but this is what I could find on how it got started.

According to Wikipedia, Ladder Golf is a trademarked and patented ladder ball lawn game manufactured by Ladder Golf, LLC, a San Diego, California based company. The story goes that Matt Peterson discovered the game on campgrounds in the early 90's, and he believes it must have originated in such RV locations. In doing a bit more research online, I found over 30 different names for this game and many different countries around the world play a similar game.

It is said that the Polynesians played a game using 2 coconuts tied together and the Spanish word, "boleadora" is used for the golf balls on a rope or "bolo". Even the South Americans used a weapon to bring animals down which was 2 rocks tied together by string. So as you can see, I am wondering how long this game has been really played.

The "ball and ladder" game was patented in 2001 by Pennsylvanian Robert G. Reid, a postman who played the game with his family for decades before filing for a patent in 1999. Reid sold his patent to Ladder Golf, LLC in March of 2005, and the company began manufacturing the game. In fact the company sponsors a tournament in San Diego in April each year.

Scoring Ladder Golf

Ladder Golf Scoring
Ladder Golf Scoring

Ladder Golf is described by the most recent patent as "a tethered ball toss game in which a number of tethered balls arranged at both ends of a series of cords and secured to the ends of the cords by knots are tossed from a prescribed distance toward a number of horizontal bars."

The game is palyed by throwing a bola of two golf balls connected by a rope at the ladder. The top rung is worth 3 points, the middle rung is worth 2 points, and the bottom rung is worth 1 point. The goal is to get exactly and not over 21 points.

Ladder Golf Rules
Ladder Golf Rules

Rules on Playing Ladder Golf

Learning to play Ladder Golf is pretty easy. I learned to play in one day. The rules are not complex and the scoring is easy. It helps if you have a portable chalk or white board to keep track of the points each team is earning. This helps young children to see the points they are getting instead of trying to remember them in their heads.

The first thing to do is set a line at least 5 paces from the ladder. This is called the toss line. The official toss line is 15 paces from the ladder, but at 5 paces the children can play easily.

Ladder golf is played in rounds with each player tossing 3 bolos each. The player must toss all 3 bolos before than next player can toss. The first player leaves his or her bolos on the rungs while the 2nd player tosses. If the second player's bolo knocks off the first player's bolo, the first player looses those points (depending on which rung their bolo was on). The winner of the round, starts the next round.

The goal is to 21 points. No one is allowed to go over 21, the score must be exactly 21 to win. For example, if you or your team as 19 points, you must score 2 points in combination of two 1 point rungs or one 1 point rung. If you toss to the 3 point rung, the points are not counted and you must wait until the next round to try again.

These rules were taken from the official ladder golf website which also includes other information about this fun backyard game.

How to Put together Your Ladder Golf Set

Ladder Golf Set
Ladder Golf Set

Step by step, putting together the set is quick and easy. It just takes minutes and even a school-aged child can do it. My grandchildren set theirs up when they come over to visit. We like the bright colorful set with colored bolos so we can see the bolos in the sunlight.

All photos on putting together a ladder golf game were taken by the author.

Lay Out the Pieces

Make Sure Nothing is Missing!
Make Sure Nothing is Missing!

Set Up Sides - Attach Base

Insert Scoring Bars

Finished Ladder Golf Frame

Ready to Play!
Ready to Play!

How to Make Your Own Ladder Golf Game

This is a very detailed and step-by-step visual aid on making your own ladder golf or ladder toss games. If you need a lot of ladder golf games for a neighborhood tournament, then making your own ladders and bolos will save you lots of money. The tools needed to make your own game are basic and everyone usually has them in there garage or workshed.

What is your favorite backyard game to play?

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    Post Comment
    • Nanciajohnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Johnson 

      6 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @DrBillSmithWriter: It is a fun game that everyone can play. Thank you for the comment.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Wow! This was the first game I thought of when I saw this Quest - but we gave it to one of the kids... Thanks for sharing... and providing reminders. Fun game! ;-)


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