Golf is a card game that draws many similarities to the sport of the same name. Most variants of the gameplay 9 or 18 deal just like the number of holes in a game of golf, and the objective is the same: to achieve the lowest score.
There are many different versions of the golf card game: 4-card golf, 6-card golf, and 9-card golf being the most popular. They also go by alternative names. Golf is otherwise known as Polish polka or Polish Poker, with other names being turtle (4-card golf), hara-kiri (6-card golf), and crazy nines (9-card golf).
We’ll explain everything you need to know about each game so that you can try them all if you so wish. And be sure to read to the end as we made printable rules which you might find useful.
For the golf card game with 4 cards, you use a standard deck of 52 cards. The amount of people that can play is usually two to eight, with four being optimal. You will need a second deck if you select eight or more players.
The dealer deals clockwise and face-down until each player has four cards. The rest of the deck goes face-down in the middle of play. The top card is turned over and placed beside the drawing deck as a discard pile.
Before the commencement of play, each player can look at their two closest cards — they may not look at them again unless they are discarded or until play finishes.
How to Play 4-Card Golf Game
The first turn goes to the player to the dealer’s left, and play continues clockwise. Each player has three options when their turn comes around. Draw the top card from the draw deck, draw the top card from the discard deck, or knock to cease play.
- If you draw a card and decide to use it, you may use it to replace one of your four cards. Remember, you cannot check what your face-down cards are. Place the disposed the card face up in the discard pile and do your best to remember the value of your new card.
- If you draw a card and decide not to use it, place it face up in the discard pile.
- If you pick up a discarded card and change your mind about using it, you cannot return it to the discard pile. Once picked up, you have to place the card.
- If you knock, your turn is over. After each player has their turn, the play ends.
Golf Card Game Scoring
Play finishes if somebody knocks and everyone has had their turn or each player has had nine deals. At this time, everyone’s cards are flipped face up and tallied. The player with the lowest overall score after 9 deals win.
- Kings are the strongest cards, as they are worth 0
- Number cards represent their numerical value, e.g., ace is worth 1, and eight is worth 8.
- Jacks and queens are worth 10.
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How to Play Variations of 4-Card Golf Game
Different Scoring Methods
For 4-card golf, several variations see that identical pairs score 0. As such, three of the same cards mean only two of the cards are worth 0, and the other is worth its actual value. Some folks also only permit this rule if the cards in question are in the same row or column — they can’t be diagonal to one another.
Besides this, there are many other major scoring variations to the game. Cards can be worth the following:
- Queens are worth 12, 13, 20, or 40. The last version only applies to the queen of spades, and the eight is worth 0.
- Jacks are worth 0. In some versions, you can pair jacks with another card to be worth 0 as well. In others, jacks are worth 20, and the next player loses their turn when discarded.
- Jokers are worth -5.
You can change the two cards you viewed at the beginning of the game as many times as you like. However, you can only change the two you didn’t view once.
Viewing Face-Down Cards
Like with different scoring methods, there’s much variation when viewing face-down cards.
- You may view one or two cards before play, irrespective of if they are closest to you.
- You may view any card during play for the cost of 1 point.
- You may view the two cards or those that replaced them at any point during the game.
- You hold the two cards you first viewed in your hand so that you can see them at any time.
- You hold all four cards in your hand so you can view them anytime.
Flipping Cards Face-Up
In one version of 4-card golf, one of your cards is flipped up on every turn, and you cannot replace a face-up card. You must place any card you draw face up, and if you draw and discard a card, you must choose one of your cards to flip face up.
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For 6-card golf, if there are fewer than five players, a standard deck of 52 playing cards for golf will do. However, from five to eight players, you need a second deck. You’ll need a third if you require even more players.
Dealing is the same as with 4-card golf, except each player receives six cards forming a rectangle, 3 cards wide and two tall. You also turn two cards face up at the beginning rather than just checking what they are.
Play is the same as 4-card golf, except for two rule changes. The first is that there is no knocking. You must draw a card from either the draw pile or the discard pile. You do not have to swap out a card that you took from the draw pile with your six cards.
The second rule change is that you must place all cards you obtain from the draw pile face up. This means you don’t have any cards to remember as you do in 4-card golf.
- Twos are the strongest cards as they are worth -2 points.
- Kings are worth 0.
- Identical cards in the same column are worth 0 (even if they are twos).
- One is worth 1 point.
- Three through ten are worth their numerical value.
- Jacks and queens are worth 10 points.
Read More: Golf Terms Every Golfer Must Know
How to Play the 9-Card Golf Game
9-card golf uses at least two decks of cards, and as the name suggests, each player receives nine cards from the dealer. You arrange these in a square like 4-card golf, but unlike that game, you begin with 3 cards face up.
The 9-card golf game card rules are identical to 6-card golf, except for one small distinction. No longer can you earn 0 from two of the same card. You need at least three to complete the column to obtain a score of 0.
Like the other golf card games, there are some variations that you may want to incorporate:
- Only two cards start face-up for each player.
- A horizontal or diagonal row of the same card gives 0 points.
- A block of four identical cards gives a pre-discussed negative score.
- Twos are worth 2 points. Jokers are instead worth -2.
- The player who has the lowest score of the round scores 0. Furthermore, the player who flipped all their cards first gets the lowest score added to theirs if their score is not the lowest.
Printable Rules for 6-Card Golf
How Many Cards Do You Deal in the Golf Card Game?
The amount of cards you deal in a golf card game depends on, firstly, which golf card game you are playing, and secondly, how many people are playing.
For example, if four people play 6-card golf, the dealer deals 24 cards. This is because each player receives 6 cards, as the game’s name implies.
How Many Decks Do You Need to Play the Golf Card Game?
Each golf card game has different deck requirements.
For 4-card golf, you use one deck of cards if there are two to eight players. A second deck, if there are any more.
For 6-card golf, one deck only suffices if you have four or fewer players. You need a second deck if you have five to eight and a third if you have nine or more.
Finally, for 9-card golf, you begin with two decks of cards. The rules are less clear about the introduction of additional decks. You may even have to start with a third deck if you have more than four players.
Now you know how to play golf with cards! Pretty neat, right? And just like real golf, the golf card game is easy to get your head around — channel your inner Tiger Woods and score as low as possible. As far as card games go, we definitely think it’s worth giving a try.
There are also many different versions, so pick the one that suits you best, or hey! Why not come up with some of your own rules? What a fun way to unwind after a long day on the range!