Golf the Card Game: How to Play and Win Big

By Nick Heidelberger

Golf and playing cards

The card game “Golf” follows several of the same principles as the actual game of golf. It’s played over nine “holes” and the winner is the person with the lowest score. There's also some blind luck involved. Here’s how to play the six-card variety of the card game Golf.

Setting Up Golf the Card Game

Players: 2-4
Cards: 1 Deck

Setting up the card game Golf is easy. All you need is 2-4 players and one deck of cards. Here’s how to get started.

Set up: The dealer deals six cards to each player, one at a time, in a 3x2 rectangular grid. The dealer then creates a draw pile with the remainder of the deck, turning the top card face-up next to the draw pile to create the discard pile.

Each player turns two cards from their 3x2 grid face-up before beginning play. They may not look at their remaining four cards.

Golf the card game setup
This is what a round of Golf the card game looks like when setup is finished and gameplay is ready to begin

Game Play

Game play begins with the player to the dealer’s left and moves clockwise. The player begins their turn by deciding to either take the top face-up card from the discard pile, or draw the top card face-down card from the draw pile. The player then uses the chosen card to replace one of the six cards in their 3x2 grid, placing it face up.

If you choose to replace a face-down card from your grid, you cannot look at the card before replacing it, you must do so blindly.

Players who draw a face-down card from the top of the draw pile have the option to discard that card, leaving their grid unchanged if they choose. Players who draw the top, face-up, card from the discard pile, however, must use that card, and cannot simply replace it to the top of the discard pile.

Once you discard, your turn is over, and play continues clockwise. 

Play ends and scoring begins when the first player has all six cards face up.

Scoring Golf the Card Game

If you think of each deal in the card game Golf as one hole of a golf course, a game lasts nine holes. A player's score for each “hole” is the sum of their six cards as the end of play, using the following scoring:

  • Aces: 1 point each
  • 2s: -2 points each
  • 3-10: Face value
  • Jack & Queen: 10 points each
  • King: 0 points
  • Pair in the same column: 0 points (even if it’s a pair of 2s)

The player with the lowest score after nine deals, or nine holes, is the winner.

Strategies to Win Golf the Card Game

After playing a few hands of Golf, you’ll quickly figure out what strategies help, and which hurt your chances of winning. Since it’s a low-score wins type of game, you always want to keep an eye out for cards that keep scores down. Your priority should be:

  • Keep every 2 possible, these are like birdies and eagles on a golf course!
  • Kings are your next best friend, as they don’t cost you any points, and you don’t need to pair them up.
  • After Kings and 2s, look for opportunities to pair up cards in the same column, which also costs you no points.
  • Round out the rest of your grid with the lowest cards possible, starting with aces. If you draw a high card, Jack, or Queen from the draw pile, discard it instead of adding it to your grid.

Enjoy the Par-Ty!

You don’t have to be a golfer to have fun playing the card game golf, but golfer may get a little extra kick out of the quest to post the lowest score or a brilliant closing stretch of holes to claim an unlikely win.

About the Author

Nick Heidelberger is the Editor of GolfLink and an active member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA). He covers all things golf, from the professional tours to rules, equipment, style, and golf history. In the years prior to joining GolfLink, he worked for the New England Section of the PGA of America. Nick has a degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and has been an avid golfer for more than 10 years.