Ladder Ball Golf Rules and Game Etiquette

Do you want to play ladder ball like a pro? Learn the ladder ball golf rules and game etiquette, so that you can surprise all your adversaries on the field.

ladder ball game in the backyard

It’s hard to imagine summer without backyard games. Among the many options out there, the ladder ball is a classic. It brings a simple and fun way to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family, majorly thanks to its simple rules.

Also known as the ladder toss, this exciting game boasts a straightforward setup and consists of just a few pieces that are easy to carry around.

These features make the game a preferred among campers since it’s so easy to take it with you wherever you go. Whether it’s a trip to your in-laws or a few days out in the wild, ladder ball can make your whole adventure even more enjoyable.

That is, if you know how to play it and have a good set by your side. Luckily, the rules are easy to learn even by the kids, and the lawn game can entertain players of all ages. As for the set, we truly like the Basics Ladder Toss Set, which is easy to mount and safe to play by kids and adults alike.

Ladder Ball Basics: The Terminology

The original ladder ball game has uncertain origins, but what is certain is the brands that are now producing the game use technical jargon to describe its components. Learning the rules without getting yourself familiar with the terminology could be quite confusing. Here are the most common pieces and parts to know about:

1. Bolas

Undoubtedly the most important piece of the game, bolas refer to two golf balls attached to one another with a piece of rope. Two connected balls make one bola, and a game set usually contains six, three blue and three red, although other color pairs are also common.

AmazonBasics Ladder Toss Set with Soft Carrying Case

2. Ladder

Is pretty intuitive and refers to the game ladder made up of the contraption with three steps. A game set has two ladders, although you will only need one if you decide to play by the classic rules.

3. Steps

Also called rungs, are the actual steps of the ladder described above. They are defined as top, middle, and bottom rung.

4. Toss Line

A line on the field, located at 15 feet away from the ladder. Players must toss their bolas from here; although the game rules require 15 feet, if you have a small backyard or need some flexibility, you can adjust this distance according to your needs.

group of friends playing ladder ball

Step by Step Ladder Ball Rules

Now that we’ve got the terminology settled and you know what to expect, it’s time to learn how to play.

1. Players

The first thing to determine is whether you want to play against a sole adversary as single players or in teams. In the latter case, know that a team consists of four players who take turns at throwing their bolas.

2. Objective

This game’s goal is to score 21 points exactly by wrapping bolas around the rungs.

3. Setup

The simplest way to set up the game is by installing only one ladder and counting 15 feet backward.

Draw a tossing line on the ground and toss the bolas from there, alternating turns either between players or teams.

From the line, each player must throw their bolas and – hopefully – wrap them around a rung. Each player or team can toss three bolas per turn, and each turn’s scoring is completed when both players have tossed their bolas.

4. Scoring

To get to the 21 points mentioned above, players have to wrap their bolas around the rungs and score points.

You will score:

  • One point when wrapping bolas around the bottom rung;
  • Two points for bolas resting on the middle rung;
  • Three points for bolas on the top rung.

Besides these points, you can also score one bonus point if you manage to wrap one bola on each rung in a single turn or if you wrap all bolas on the same rung in a single turn.

However, just because you wrapped the bolas, it doesn’t mean you can add the points to the score. Your bolas must remain on the ladder until the end of the turn. If they are knocked off while the other player tosses their bolas, your toss doesn’t count towards the final score.

5. Winning

To win the ladder ball game, you must score no more no less than 21 points. This rule makes the game more exciting, as players will have to build a strategy and keep an accurate track of their score.

But the game doesn’t end when one player or team reaches 21. If the opponent hasn’t surpassed the threshold, the ‘winning’ party must give their adversary the opportunity to match their score. If they fail, the player who reached 21 is declared as the winner.

If you want to bring more excitement to the game and make it last longer, you can establish a best of X series winning rule. For instance, the team who reaches 21 for three times wins the game.

In the event of a tie, each player or team must play as many overtime rounds as necessary to gain two extra points at the end of the round.

Ladder Ball Alternate Games

While the ladder ball golf rules above define the original game, nothing stops you to alternate and adapt the game to fit your needs.

A common variation requires to setup two ladders at 25 feet apart and facing each other. Each team assumes its position next to one ladder and plays by throwing bolas towards to opposite ladder. This variation is very similar to the horseshoes game and is much more common among adult players.

You can also change the game’s objective, especially if you’re setting it up for young kids who find it hard to reach an exact score of 21. In this case, the winner could be the player or team who scored the most points after a pre-determined number of turns.

Like all lawn games, ladder ball is flexible and adaptable too. If space doesn’t allow you to leave a distance of 15 feet between the ladder and the toss line, you can simply establish a different distance.

woman playing ladder golf at the beach

Ladder Ball Golf Game Etiquette

The word golf in the game’s name is a clear indication this lawn game comes with a solid etiquette – albeit it’s pretty different from what a gentleman could expect. Ladder ball, indeed, encourages loud sounds, remarks, yelling, and shouting.

All these actions can be used to distract your opponent, and everything is allowed except touching a player or their bolas when it’s their turn.

It is also against the rules and etiquette to walk to the ladder before each round is completed. It doesn’t matter how much you want to see how flawlessly you tossed your bolas, just wait until the other player has finished their turn.

Sum Up and Conclusion...

To sum up the rules of Ladder Ball:

The objective of the game is to wrap the balls (which are attached by a rope with a ball at each end) around a rung of the ladder, each rung carrying a different point value (typically three at the top, two in the middle, and one on the bottom).

To begin each game, the ladders are set roughly 15 feet apart (or five paces) and the team that begins the game is decided by coin toss, or our personal favorite, rock-paper-scissors (best of three, always)

Once the order of throwing is decided, teams accrue points by wrapping the balls around a rung of the ladder of the opposition, playing to a predetermined score (often to 21. Some rules suggest an exact score is required to grab the victory, but use whatever rules you see fit. It’s supposed to be fun, after all)

One side throws all three of their balls and then the other throws all three of theirs, with the winner of each round earning the right to throw first in the subsequent round
Balls can, however, be knocked off of rungs and only the balls remaining on the ladder once all have been thrown count towards the final score

Once 21 is reached by one team the other team will have a chance to match scores by getting one final opportunity. If the losing team fails to match their opposition’s total, the scores are reset to zero and a new game begins

A best of 3, 5, or 7 series is the best way to keep the competitive juices flowing. After a team has reached the final win total, feel free to change teams up to keep things interesting and fair

Ladder ball doesn’t require any style points either; a bounce off the ground or a ball thrown way up in the air can be just as effective as a classic “spinner.”

AmazonBasics Ladder Toss Set with Soft Carrying Case

Ladder ball golf rules are simple and straightforward, just what it takes to make it a fun and easy-going game to play with your buddies or family. Ideal for either kids or adults, the ladder toss can easily fill up the time as you’re waiting for your barbecue to be ready.

So, grab your Basics Ladder Toss Set (comes with a soft carrying case), and get ready to live one of the best camping adventures this summer…

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