Interesting fact before we talk about the rules of the game: some speculate that the game may have originated as early as the 1900's and believe the bola is a stand-in for a live snake, which cowboys in the western United States used to throw at fences or branches for points. It takes the saying "In my day..." to a whole new level.
Anyways, Ladder Ball is also known as Ladder Golf, Bolo Toss, Boloball or Hillbilly Golf. The game is played with two or more players or teams. Each player has 3 golf ball bolas. A bola is two golf balls attached by a nylon rope. The object of the game is to wrap your bolas around the rungs of the ladder. The ladder consists of 3 rungs, a top, middle and a bottom rung.
Laddar Ball can be a two to four player game, individuals or teams. Ladders should be positioned 15 feet apart, for the “official toss line”, but most players measure five paces from the game ladder to set the toss line.
The game is played in rounds and each round consists of all players tossing 3 bolas each. A coin toss is used to decide which player or team will toss first. The first player or team must toss all 3 bolas before the next player or team is able to toss his or her bolas. Bolas can be tossed in anyway the player chooses, as long as they are tossed individually. They can also be bounced off the ground. The winner of the round earns the first toss in the next round.
In addition, if players from opposing teams have bolas hanging from the same rung at the end of the round, those points “cancel each other out” and neither team scores those points.
Points are determined by which rung your bola wraps around. The top rung is worth 3 points the middle rung is worth 2 points and the bottom rung is worth 1 point. Players can score an optional bonus of 1 point by hanging all 3 bolas from the same step or by hanging a bola on all 3 rungs in one round. The highest amount of points available per player is 10. This is accomplished by hanging all 3 bolas on the top rung.
Games are played to an exact point total of 21. In order to win, a player must be the only one to score exactly 21 points after the completion of a round. If a player goes over the exact point total, that players points for that round do not count.
When one player or team reaches 21 or more points before an opponent reaches 20 points, the team or player scoring 21 or more is the winner. All games must be won by a least 2 points. If after all players have tossed all their bolas, and one team has scored 21 points, but it's not at least 2 points ahead of the other players, then the game continues until one team can outscore the other by at least 2 points.
In the case of a tie at 21, the players that tie will play as many overtime rounds as needed until one player ends a complete round 2 points ahead of the other player
After all teams have tossed all their bolas, scoring is determined by the bolas that are still hanging from the rungs. Players can knock-off bolas during the course of the game, in fact knocking-off other players bolas is encouraged and a good way to play defensively.