Golf is a popular card game that can be enjoyed by 2 to 6 participants. Your target is to achieve a score as low as possible, similar to that of the sport of golf. In the standard version, each player is dealt 6 cards that are laid out in rows, face-down.

Players then take turns drawing cards from the deck or discard pile, aiming to replace their higher-value cards with lower ones or special cards that carry advantages.

The game involves a mix of luck and strategy, leaving players to decide when to replace their cards. Scores are calculated at the end of each round, with various card values and special rules affecting the final tally.

The game can be played for a predetermined number of rounds, and the player with the lowest cumulative score at the end is declared the winner.

Origin of the Golf Card Game

It is not exactly known when the Golf card game came into existence. However, it is believed to have originated and evolved in the mid-20th century. It has drawn inspiration from other card games that focus on low scores and strategic play. The name and concept seem to have been inspired by the sport of golf, where the goal is to have the lowest score.

As a player, you can notice the game’s similarities with other card games such as Gin Rummy and Knock Rummy. Some experts even claim it to be a variant or amalgamation of these games.

Its appeal lies in its simplicity and the balance of luck and strategy, making it accepted in many countries worldwide, with some developing regional versions and rules to suit the local audience.

Objective of the Golf Card Game

Your main objective in this card game is to achieve the lowest score possible. This is akin to the sport of golf, where the aim is also to have the lowest score.

You can accomplish it by strategically replacing your high-value cards with lower-value ones throughout the different rounds. At the start of the game, every player is dealt cards face-down.

During your turns, you must draw cards from either the deck or the discard pile and replace the higher-value cards with lower-value cards or special cards that may reduce your score.

Set-Up of the Golf Card Game

Now that you have learned the objective of the Golf card game, read to know how it is set up and what its different elements are.

1. Number of Players

2 to 6 players can play the Golf card game. This allows flexibility and helps to accommodate small groups. You can play this game with friends, acquaintances, and family members.

2. Deck of Cards Used

The Golf card game typically uses a standard deck of 52 cards. However, depending on the number of participants, you can use multiple decks and shuffle them to form a larger pile.

3. Distribution of Cards

  • Each player at the table receives typically 6 cards, which they must arrange in rows containing 3 cards each. If you are playing the 9-card version, you can set 3 rows with 3 cards each
  • All cards are dealt face down. No player is allowed to turn the card up immediately
  • After the dealing of the cards, you can look at any two cards without revealing them to other players. You must then set them back face down in their original positions

4. Set-Up of the Playing Area

  • Each player must set their cards in front of them in a rectangular grid pattern
  • The cards must remain face down after you look at your two cards
  • You must place the remaining deck of cards at the center of the table, thus forming a draw pile
  • Reveal the top card from the deck and set it next to it face up, which will form the discard pile

Once the setup is complete, the game proceeds. You must take turns with other players to draw and discard cards, aiming to replace higher-value cards in your respective grids with lower-value ones to achieve the lowest score by the end of the game.

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What are the Rules of the Golf Card Game?

Understanding the rules of the Golf card game paves the way for a smooth session of gameplay wherein you get to be tactical and enjoy the experience. Below are a few essential points that you should be aware of -

  • Choose who deals, and shuffle the cards thoroughly. The dealer then deals 6 cards face down to each player in each round
  • Set the cards face down in a rectangle formation, with 3 rows containing two cards each
  • Once the cards are dealt, the dealer places the remaining cards at the center of the table
  • You can look at any two cards, but they are for your eyes only, so remember their values and positioning so as to not use the wrong one when your turn comes
  • The dealer then flips the top card of the deck, placing it next to it, which forms the discard pile
  • When it’s your turn, lift a card from the deck and replace it with one from your hand, throwing it into the discard pile
  • Repeat the process until one of the players has revealed all 6 of their cards

Listed below are the values that different cards carry in Golf:

  • Ace = 1 point
  • Each 2 card = -2 points
  • Cards 3 to 10 = their face value
  • Jack or Queen = 10 points each
  • King = 0 points
  • If the same row has two cards of similar value, they carry 0 points

How Does Scoring Work in the Golf Card Game?

To understand how scoring works in the Golf card game, let us take a look at an example -

After being dealt 6 cards, here’s what your grid looks like - 

  • 5S-3D
  • KC-9C
  • AH-AD

This is how you break down the scores:

  • 5 of Spades = 5 points, 3 of Diamonds = 3 points; so, your total for the top row is 5 + 3 = 8 points
  • King of Clubs = 0 points, 9 of Clubs = 9 points; so, your total for the middle row is 0 + 9 = 9 points
  • Ace of Hearts = 1 point, Ace of Diamonds = 1 point; so, your total for the bottom row is 0 points (since both cards in this row are of the same value, they score 0 points)

Your total score for this hand is 8 + 9 + 0 = 17 points.

Golf Card Game Variations

While 6-card Golf card game is the standard version, several variations of this card game have turned up over time. Here are some of the most common ones that you will come across -

1. Joker as Wild Cards: 

The setup of this version of Golf includes Joker cards. Jokers can be used as wildcards, meaning their value can be anything as per the situation of the game, but more often than not, it is  0 points.

The card’s inclusion provides players flexibility in terms of strategy and can help them reduce scores significantly

2. Power Card Version:

In this version, you get to assign special abilities to specific cards. For instance, Kings always score 0 points and can have additional abilities.

Similarly, Queens allow swapping cards with other players. Jacks, on the other hand, allow the peeking of an extra card from your hand. The remaining rules are the same

3. 9-Hole Golf:

‘Hole’ refers to rounds, meaning this game is played across 9 rounds. Each round follows the standard 6-card Golf rules, and after each round, scores are tallied. The player with the lowest cumulative points at the end of 9 rounds is declared as the winner

4. 18-Hole Golf:

Identical to the 9-Hole Golf, this variation is played for 18 rounds. The longer nature of the game allows for more strategic gameplay. At the end of 18 rounds, the player with the least points is the winner

Helpful Strategies to Become Better at Golf Card Game

Like other card games, Golf, too, requires regular practice in order to succeed. Meanwhile, you can also adopt a few strategies that can help you to become a better player -

1. Use your peeks well: With a limited number of peeks on cards available, it is advisable to use them wisely. Look at cards that are of high value or cards that could pair with other cards in your grid

2. Focus on low-value cards: Make it an aim to replace your high-value cards with low-value ones. This strategy will ensure you have fewer points at the end of the game

3. Watch your opponents: Keep an eye on which cards your opponents are picking and discarding. It can help you deduce their strategy and further manipulate them into making the wrong decisions

4. Be flexible: Be prepared to alter your strategy due to changing in-game situations. It is not guaranteed that you will always get the card that you desire. Accordingly, you may be required to necessitate a change in your gameplay

5. Monitor the discard pile: Keeping a close watch on the discard pile is important. If you need a specific card, you can draw it from the discard pile instead of the deck, thus avoiding giving away your strategy

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Mistakes to Avoid While Playing Golf Card Game

Card games test players in ways no other game does, leading to mistakes and losses. Golf is no different and in order to thrive at it, you need to be mindful of certain elements -

1. Holding high-value cards: Holding high-value cards is a critical error. You must swap them at the first opportunity you get, as the goal is to end the game with a few points

2. Not pairing cards: Paired cards carry 0 points, so, make sure that you capitalize on the chance to create pairs within your grid

3. Overlooking the discard pile: A card that you want will often land in the discard pile courtesy of your opponents. Neglecting the discard pile can result in slipped opportunities to replace high-value cards

4. Drawing randomly from the deck: Drawing cards from the deck should serve a definitive purpose, or else it can lead to ineffective card swaps. Resort to drawing cards only if you have a clear vision of your goal

5. Forgetting special rules: Misunderstanding specific rules can cost you in the long run while playing Golf. Familiarize yourself with the rules of the game, including special rules, and include them in your strategy

Etiquette and Fair Play Guidelines in Golf Card Game

To ensure the enjoyment of all players involved, it is important to ensure that you play Golf by following good etiquette and fair play. Here are some guidelines for the same -

1. Respect your opponents: It is vital to treat your opponents with respect. Avoid conveying derogatory sentiments in speech or action, as it could detract from everyone’s experience

2. Be transparent: Ensure that all your moves are honest and transparent. Do not hide or misrepresent your cards due to its ability to undermine the integrity of the game

3. Abstain from gamesmanship: Do not use strategies that distract or unsettle your opponents. Focus on handling the situations strategically rather than resorting to underhanded tactics

4. Accept the results: Accept the outcomes with grace, be it winning or losing. Congratulating the winner on a well-earned victory reflects on your personality as well as on your shortcomings

5. Follow the rules: Adhere to the rules of the table agreed upon by all players. In case of any uncertainty, seek clarity as opposed to proceeding with a hunch

Poker vs. Golf Card Game

While the Golf card game made its presence felt only in the 20th century, another card game that was popular at the time was poker. Today, poker continues to dominate the industry worldwide, having made its impact felt in the online gambling world, too.

If you are interested in real money poker, register with Spartan Poker. It is the leading online poker app that organizes timely tournaments for members with incredible rewards to play for.

You can also download its app on Android and iOS devices, getting access to money earning games even while on the go.