The World of Professional Ladder Golf: A Hidden Gem in Competitive Sports

When one thinks of professional sports, images of football stadiums, tennis courts, or golf courses often come to mind. However, nestled in the realm of niche yet growing competitive activities is an intriguing game that combines skill, strategy, and a touch of leisure: ladder golf. But are there any professional ladder golf competitions around the world? The answer, as it turns out, is a resounding yes—though it’s a world still in its infancy, filled with passionate players and burgeoning tournaments.

The Origins and Basics of Ladder Golf

Before diving into the competitive scene, it’s essential to understand the roots and rules of ladder golf. Often referred to as ladder toss or ladder ball, this game is believed to have been invented by cowboys who used to throw bolas (two balls connected by a string) at fences or trees. The modern version involves two or more players or teams throwing bolas at a ladder structure with three rungs, each worth different points.

Basic Rules of Ladder Golf:

  1. Each player has three bolas.
  2. The ladder has three rungs: top (3 points), middle (2 points), and bottom (1 point).
  3. Players take turns tossing their bolas at the ladder, aiming to wrap them around the rungs.
  4. The first player or team to reach exactly 21 points wins.

The simplicity of ladder golf makes it accessible to all ages, while the skill involved in mastering the toss gives it a competitive edge.

The Rise of Competitive Ladder Golf

The transition from a backyard game to a competitive sport has been gradual but steady. The establishment of local leagues and small tournaments laid the foundation for a more structured competitive scene. Communities passionate about the game began organizing events, which eventually grew in size and prestige.

Local Leagues and Tournaments

In many parts of the United States, local leagues have sprouted, particularly in regions where the game enjoys significant popularity. These leagues often host weekly or monthly competitions, fostering a community spirit and encouraging skill development. For example, cities like Austin, Texas, and Madison, Wisconsin, have active ladder golf communities that regularly organize tournaments.

These local events are crucial for the sport’s growth, providing players with opportunities to compete, refine their techniques, and gain recognition. Many of the top players in the world started in these grassroots competitions, honing their skills before stepping onto larger stages.

National Championships

The turning point for ladder golf was the establishment of national championships. The United States Ladder Golf Association (USLGA) was pivotal in this development, standardizing rules and organizing nationwide tournaments. The USLGA National Championship, held annually, is the pinnacle of ladder golf in the U.S. It attracts the best players from across the country, each vying for the title of national champion.

These national tournaments are not just about the competition; they are celebrations of the sport. Players, families, and fans gather for a weekend of camaraderie, fun, and fierce competition. The atmosphere is electric, with matches often drawing large crowds and enthusiastic cheers.

Ladder Golf on the International Stage

While ladder golf is most popular in the United States, its appeal is spreading internationally. Countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia have growing ladder golf communities, each developing their own competitive circuits.


In Canada, the sport has gained traction, particularly in provinces like Ontario and British Columbia. The Canadian Ladder Golf Association (CLGA) was formed to promote the game and organize competitions. The CLGA hosts an annual Canadian Championship, drawing players from across the country. The event is a testament to the sport’s increasing popularity in Canada, with more participants and spectators each year.

The United Kingdom

Across the Atlantic, ladder golf is carving out a niche in the UK. While still relatively new, the British Ladder Golf Association (BLGA) has been working tirelessly to promote the game. Local tournaments and leagues are becoming more common, and there is talk of a national championship in the near future. The UK’s rich tradition of lawn games and outdoor activities provides a fertile ground for ladder golf to flourish.


In Australia, the laid-back culture and love for outdoor sports make ladder golf a natural fit. The Australian Ladder Golf Association (ALGA) has seen a steady increase in membership and tournament participation. The annual Australian Open is the highlight of the ladder golf calendar, drawing players from across the country for a weekend of competition and camaraderie.

The Professional Ladder Golf Circuit

The dream of many ladder golf enthusiasts is a fully-fledged professional circuit, similar to those in more established sports. While the sport is not yet at that level, significant strides are being made.

Sponsorship and Media Coverage

Sponsorship is a critical component for the growth of any sport. In recent years, ladder golf has attracted the attention of various sponsors, from local businesses to larger corporations. These sponsors provide financial support for tournaments, helping to cover costs and offer prizes.

Media coverage, though still limited, is growing. Local news outlets often cover significant tournaments, and there is a burgeoning presence on social media. Dedicated ladder golf websites and YouTube channels provide match highlights, player interviews, and instructional videos, helping to spread the sport’s popularity.

Professional Players

A small but dedicated group of players is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in ladder golf. These individuals train rigorously, develop advanced techniques, and compete at the highest levels. Some have even turned their passion into a profession, earning income through sponsorships, coaching, and prize winnings.

Major Tournaments

The cornerstone of any professional sport is its major tournaments. For ladder golf, these events are becoming more prominent and well-organized. The USLGA National Championship, the Canadian Championship, and the Australian Open are leading the way, but there are also international competitions on the horizon.

The dream is to have a world championship, where the best players from each country can compete for the ultimate title. Discussions are underway to make this a reality, with the potential for the first Ladder Golf World Championship in the next few years.

The Future of Professional Ladder Golf

The future of ladder golf is bright, with several key areas poised for growth.

Youth Programs

One of the most promising developments is the introduction of youth programs. Schools and community centers are incorporating ladder golf into their physical education curricula, introducing the game to a younger audience. These programs are crucial for nurturing the next generation of players and ensuring the sport’s longevity.

Technological Advancements

Technology is also playing a role in the sport’s evolution. From high-quality equipment to apps that track scores and stats, these advancements are enhancing the player experience. Virtual tournaments and online leagues are becoming more common, allowing players to compete against opponents from around the world without leaving their homes.

Global Expansion

The international expansion of ladder golf is one of the most exciting aspects of its future. As more countries embrace the sport, the potential for cross-cultural exchanges and international competitions grows. The dream of a truly global sport, with a professional circuit spanning multiple continents, is within reach.

Conclusion: A Sport on the Rise

While ladder golf may not yet have the widespread recognition of traditional sports, it is undoubtedly on the rise. The combination of accessibility, skill, and community spirit makes it a compelling and enjoyable game. The growing number of professional competitions, both local and international, is a testament to its potential.

For those looking to get involved, there has never been a better time. Whether as a casual player, a competitor, or a fan, ladder golf offers something for everyone. The sport’s journey from backyard pastime to professional competition is just beginning, and the future looks incredibly promising.

So, are there professional ladder golf competitions around the world? Absolutely. And as the sport continues to grow, these competitions will only become more prominent, drawing players and fans from every corner of the globe. The ladder golf revolution is here—are you ready to join?