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Ever had your shoes tied together and tossed over a power line? Ladder Golf is your shot at sweet revenge. Wrap one of your bolas—a pair of golf balls connected by a length of nylon cord—over a rung, and you score. If it stays put, that is. All you need to build a rack for each side is a few dowels and 2x4s; the bolas require golf balls and cord.

This Old House's game experts, aka Team Saturday, walk you through the steps. As for how to lure your grade-school bully onto your turf for a little payback, you're on your own.

Overview to Build a Ladder Golf Game Set

How to build a ladder golf game Douglas Adams

Our vexing version of the popular game Ladder Golf ups the ante considerably: The point-bearing horizontal rungs, instead of securely bridging two posts, are supported by just one upright. That means that even the deftest of tosses can slip right off the exposed ends—in which case you get zilch.

It also means that building this addictive yard game mostly comes down to drilling 2x4s for the dowel rungs, bolting the boards into T-shaped stands, and drilling a dozen golf balls. When you're finished playing, you can slip the dowels out and collapse the upright for easy storage. Here's how Team Saturday gets it done for fun.

Cut List

(Cut list is for two racks and six playing pieces)

  • 2x4 upright: 2 @ 48 inches
  • 2x4 legs: 4 @ 24 inches
  • 3/16-inch rope: 6 lengths @ 20 inches

Steps for Building a Ladder Golf Game Set

Step 1: Cut the pieces

Two men cut the pieces of a ladder golf game set with a miter saw. Wendell T. Webber

Saw the 2x4s for the stands and uprights to length according to the cut list.

Step 2: Drill holes for the rungs

Two men drill holes for rungs in a ladder golf game set. Wendell T. Webber
  • Lay the 2x4 uprights flat on your work surface.
  • Measure and mark the location of the holes for the rungs along the centerline of each board at 3, 15, and 27 inches from the top.
  • Using a drill/driver fitted with a 1-inch paddle bit, drill the holes for the rungs clean through each 2x4. For the cleanest hole, drill on top of a piece of scrap.
Assembly and painting of a ladder golf set. Wendell T. Webber

Step 3: Assemble the stand

  • Set the pieces for the stand on edge, perpendicular to one other, with the trunk of the T offset ¾ inch from the center of the front piece. (This adjustment allows space for the upright to be centered on the stand's front piece.)
  • To assemble the stand, screw through the face of the front piece into the abutting end of the T's trunk with two evenly spaced 3-inch screws.
  • Repeat for the second stand.

Step 4: Paint all the pieces

  • Apply primer to the legs and upright with a paintbrush. This will seal the raw wood and cover knots, and make the colors pop.
  • Coat the rack in one color, and paint each rung a different color.
  • Paint the second stand in the same way.
Two men assembling a painted ladder golf game. Wendell T. Webber

Step 5: Bolt the upright to the legs

  • Stand the upright on end in the armpit of the T, centered on the front piece.
  • Drill a ¼-inch hole through the upright and back piece.
  • Insert and tighten a carriage bolt fitted with a washer and nut to secure the upright.

Step 6: Insert the rungs

  • Insert the dowels into the upright, making sure you have the same color rungs at the same position on each rack.
  • Center each dowel in its upright.

Step 7: Drill a hole through each golf ball

Creating the golf ball pieces for the ladder golf game set. Wendell T. Webber
  • Fabricate a jig to clamp a golf ball so that you can drill a hole for the cord.
  • Using a pull saw, cut a V-notch the width of the ball from the scrap ends of two 2x4s. Place these pieces on a third scrap block with the notches facing each other.
  • Set a golf ball in the cutout to determine the spacing of the notched pieces. Then remove the ball and screw the notched pieces to the third piece.
  • Place the ball between the notches and wedge a flat-head screwdriver beside the ball to keep it from spinning.
  • Wearing safety glasses, use a ¼-inch bit to drill a hole through the center of the ball.
  • Drill a hole in 11 more balls.