If you want to play golf, you don’t need any clubs or green. This Golf card game rules explain how to play a popular poker-style game of the same name.
Like the Follow the Queen and Baseball, the Golf card game is also related to classic Poker (see Follow the Queen Poker rules and Baseball card game rules for comparison).
Some players might also know this game as a Polish Poker; other widespread names include Polish Polka, Hara-Kiri, and Crazy Nines. It centers around drawing, collecting, and discarding cards to earn as few points as possible.
Since this game has many different variations, it is not easy to establish a universal set of rules for its gameplay. Moreover, Golf can be played with four, six, eight, nine, or ten cards, making it even more complex and complicated.
To make things clearer, this guide will focus mainly on the 6-card version of the game, which is arguably the most popular and widespread variation.
This Golf card game rules guide will cover the following:
- What is the Golf card game?
- What you’ll need to play the Golf card game
- Golf card game rules
- How to play Golf card game (video tutorial)
- Other similar games to Golf (our guides)
Continue reading and learn how to play the Golf card game, including some tips on the best strategy.
What is the Golf card game?
If you wonder what the Golf card game has in common with the regular Golf, it is that both require the players to score as few points as possible instead of accumulating high scores.
The gameplay consists of nine deals (also known as “holes”) and involves some classic poker-style strategies while spicing things up with a few unique rules and tricks.
Although it can be played at any age, this game is probably a bit too complicated for younger kids.
Number of Players: 2+ players
Length of Play: 10 – 20 minutes
Category: Draw-and-discard card game
Similar to: Cabo, Rat-a-Tat Cat, Rummy
Main Objective: Collect the right cards and score the lowest possible number of points.
Why We Love It: Golf is a straightforward yet tricky card game that allows you to improve with each new round. It is thus equally rewarding for beginners and experienced players.
What You’ll Need to Play Golf Card Game
You can play the Golf card game with any standard poker-size playing cards.
According to the version of the game and the total number of players, you will need 1, 2, or 3 decks of 52 cards, so buying a bundle of them is always better.
You will also need Joker cards (two per deck), so don’t sort them out of the deck.
Golf Card Game Rules and Gameplay
As I have already mentioned earlier, the following instructions will consider a 6-card variation of Golf which is excellent for 2 to 4 players. I will, however, also mention some alterations used in other versions of this game towards the end of the guide.
Starting the Game
You will only need a single deck of cards with two Jokers for this game version.
As the name of this game suggests, each player gets six cards. However, players do not look at their cards at this stage; they just leave them lying face-down on the table arranged in two rows of three.
The rest of the deck is a draw pile. Place in the center of the table. Flip the top card over and place it face-up next to the pile – this is your discard pile.
Card ranks and point values
The Golf card game uses unique card ranking. It goes as follows:
Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A, K
In accordance with that, each card is also associated with a certain number of points:
- Ace = 1 point
- 2 to 10 = Face value of the card
- Jack and Queen = 10 points each
- King = 0 points
- Joker = – 2 points
Card combinations can also have their value:
- Cards of matching ranks in the same column (e.g., Jack above Jack) are worth 0 points.
- Two Jokers in the same column are worth – 4 points.
How to Play Golf Card Game
The player sitting to the left of the dealer goes first:
- Player 1 flips two of his cards over(this occurs only on the player’s first turn of each round).
- He can swap one of his cards with the face-up card in the middle of the table or the top face-down card from the draw deck.
- If he chooses the draw pile card, he can swap it for his card and put the replaced card in the discard pile or discard the drawn card instead.
The game proceeds in a clockwise direction.
- Player 2 also flips over two random cards.
- Again, he can use either the top discarded card or draw a new card from the pile and replace any of his cards, and so on.
Obviously, the card swaps should have their logic – you’re always aiming to have as few points as possible in your formation, so collecting Kings and pairs of the same ranking cards in columns makes perfect sense.
The round continues until one of the players turns over all the cards in his formation. The remaining players have one last turn each. Then the round ends.
Additional rules to remember
Here are a few additional rules and clarifications:
- A player can also choose to swap hidden (down-facing) cards. In this case, he must discard the replaced card immediately.
- If you run out of cards in the draw pile while the round is still in progress, shuffle the discard pile and use it as a new draw pile.
- If you pick a card from the discard pile, you are obliged to swap it with one of your cards – you cannot discard it anymore.
- You must always have precisely six cards in your formation – no more, no less.
Other popular variations
Here’s a brief overview of some other popular versions of the Golf card game.
Players play with four cards in a 2×2 formation. It is suitable for 3 to 7 players, who are allowed to see two of their cards briefly before the game begins. You need one deck of cards to play this version.
Players receive nine cards each. They lay in a 3×3 formation. Unlike in a 6-card game, once a player reveals all his cards, the game ends immediately – no additional turns for the opponents. You will need one or two decks to play 9-card Golf (two decks for 4+ players).
Scoring remains the same, but for a 0-point worth card combination, you will need three cards of the same rank in a row.
Players are dealt ten cards each, organizing them in a 5×2 rectangle. Otherwise, the gameplay remains all the same. You need at least two decks for this game. Also, beware that it will take a bit longer.
Golf Card Game Scoring
When the round is over, all the remaining cards are flipped over, and the players count their score based on the value of their cards or combinations. For example, if a player has Joker, he deducts two points from his score (or four in the case of two Jokers).
Create a scoring table (or get proper scorecards) and log each player’s score in every round. The game consists of nine rounds in total. Whoever has the lowest total score becomes the winner.
How to Play Golf – Video Tutorial
Golf Card Game Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Golf card game end?
Officially, the player who finished the round first should knock on the table to signify that he is done. His opponents have one last turn.
Can two players play a Golf card game?
Yes, the 6-card Golf variation is perfectly suitable for two players. Other versions (e.g., the 4-card Golf) might be better for more players.
Do you form teams in a Golf card game?
No. In this game, all players act individually.
Other Similar Games to Golf (Our Guides)
If you’re looking for more games like Golf, check our guides to these interesting alternatives: