Just like the outdoor game of golf, the card game known as Golf has a goal of keeping the score as low as possible. The game requires three decks of cards and at least three players, but the more players the more fun the game.
The players pick a dealer and they each receive six cards in the face down position. The remainder of the deck is then placed in the center of the table. The players must all arrange their cards in two rows of three. Each player selects two of their cards to flip up.
Next, the dealer flips the top card of the deck face up and lays this next to the deck. The goal of the players from this point onward is to try to reduce the value of the cards they are holding, one card at a time. They can do this by swapping a card from their hand with one in the discard pile or one from the deck, but only on their turn.
The values for the cards in a game of Golf are as follows:
- Aces = 1
- Numeric cards = face values
- Queen and Jack = 10
- King = 0
- Joker = -1
Two identical cards in a vertical column zeroes out the value of the cards, with the exception of two jokers which would reward the player with a -2 score.
The way the game is played is quite simple: the players cannot look at their own cards, but are obviously aiming to switch the cards they have with those of the lowest values in the deck or discard pile.
To do this they must wait for their turn and then:
- Draw a card from the deck or discard pile, which is then swapped for a card in the player’s tableaux. This card can be placed face down (if it is a high value) and the player can switch it later on, or laid face up and made a permanent choice; or
- Draw a card from the deck, and if it is too high simply lay it face up in the discard pile; or
- Knock to bring the game to a close. This gives the other players one last opportunity to draw and discard.
When a player has determined that any card is the lowest value possible, they simply turn that card face up. The game is basically a race for players to reach this point. No card that has been placed in the upward facing position can be replaced again. Though, as the directions state, a player can take a card and place it face downward if they would like a chance to change it later in the game.
In the standard six-card variation of Golf, the game draws to a close once a single player has their cards all facing up. The scoring is done according to the chart provided and the player with the lowest overall total is declared the winner.
There are many ways to vary the playing of Golf, including different scoring methods, different numbers of cards and different ways of handling the tableaux.