Golf is an interesting card game and Golf card game rules can be pretty complex. The problem is that there is a lot of ways you can play it; it has many different variations. You can play with either a single pack or a double pack, and with varying amounts of initial down cards.
Either way, here I’ll present you with what I consider to be the most common rules and some ideas on how you can spice them up a bit.
The golf card game is played with a standard deck of fifty-two playing cards (the use of the jokers is optional) and anywhere from two to twelve players. For higher numbers of players, or if you want to start with more cards, you should add additional decks. A good general guideline is that for two to four players you can get away with using just one deck, but if you want to have five or more you should use two decks otherwise you might run out of cards.
Each player is dealt four, six or eight initial cards (you decide what kind of a game you want to play). Each player’s cards are spread in front of him like this (depending on how many cards you used):
4 CARD GAME
6 CARD GAME
8 CARD GAME
Players are not allowed to look at their cards. The rest of the deck is put in the center of the table and the top card is turned over; this is the first card of the discard pile.
Goal of the Game
The point of the game is to score as little as possible. The whole game usually consists from nine or eighteen rounds. In order to limit your score you want to either trade away high value cards, or make pairs. Having a pair negates the normal point value of the card.
Before the play starts players can look at two of their down cards (in alternative golf card game rules each player can turn two cards face up, it’s up to you), after this they are not allowed to look anymore.
Now the first player, starting with the player on the dealers left, can either draw a card from the discard pile or the stock pile or knock…
- …if the player picks a card from the discard pile, then he has to replace one of his cards with that card(if you are playing the face up version, then he has to put the new card face up in place of the old card). Picking up a card from the discard pile and then returning that same card to the discard pile is prohibited.
- …if the player picks a card from the stock pile, he can either discard it right away or switch it for one of his cards. He’s not allowed to look at his card before he makes the switch, but he can look at the card he drew (if you are playing the face up version, then he has to put the new card face up in place of the old card).
- …if the player knocks, the game ends and players tally up their score(there is no knocking in the face up version).
Play continues clockwise like this until a player knocks, or in the face up version until one of the players has all his cards face up. When this happens the round is done and players score appropriate points.
In case the deck runs out, shuffle up the discard pile to make a new deck and leave the top card as the new discard pile.
There are a lot of different ways you can max up your usual game of golf if it has gone stale. You can change up the number of down cards, the number of decks that you use and you can mix up the scoring as well.
Four card vs six card :
In six card golf every player is dealt six cards face down. They then have the chance to rearrange their down cards and then choose two of their cards to be exposed. In four card golf the players do not expose any of their four down cards, and they only look at two. This element of uncertainty can make for an exciting game.
Nine card golf :
Nine card golf is another variant. In this game, dealt with two decks, each player lays out a three by three grid of down cards and chooses three to expose. Unlike four and six card golf, where pairs negate the point value of the cards, in nine card golf you need to get three of a kind in either a column, row or diagonal line. If you can get a four block of the same card this knocks twenty five points off your score and you will be well on the way to victory.
You can also mix up the scoring to keep things interesting. You can add penalty cards, like making the queen of spades worth forty points, or you can make one eyed jacks wild so that they automatically pair with the card next to them.
Another interesting idea is to turn jacks into miss-a-turns, so that any time one is discarded the next player in line has to skip their turn.
At the end of each round players tally up their points according to the cards in front of them. The most common values are as follows:
- A = one point
- Deuce to Ten = face value
- Jacks and Queens = ten points
- Kings = zero points
You can also add some special scoring rules. Here are a few examples:
- If two cards form a pair in a row, their total value is zero.
- A pair of aces are minus two.
- A pair of jokers is minus four.
- If you are playing with jokers, they can be wild cards, they can have a negative point value or both.
- You can add minus ten bonus points for the knocker, if he had the lowest score. At the same time you can add ten penalty points, if he had the highest score.
- You can change how many points jokers subtract for your score. So jokers can have any negative value, you can make them worth minus one, minus two, minus three etc.
- Enable the option of shooting the moon. If someone gets the maximum amount of points, then they actually end up getting nothing and everyone else gets the maximum amount of points. This adds a new element of strategy because when someone is actively trying to shoot the moon you want to try to prevent them from getting points.
You can play around a lot with golf card game rules. You can make different rules on when players can look at cards, what scores what etc. Play around with it a little and see what you like and what you don’t like, but most of all, enjoy yourself while you play and have fun!