A simple yet fun card game based upon the sport of the same name. Just as in the sport, the object is to get the lowest possible score.
Number of Players
A standard deck of 52 playing cards, jokers removed. Cards rank (from low to high): K, A - Q
Each player is dealt 4 cards face-down. These cards are NOT looked at by the players. The cards in front of each player may be arranged in any fashion, provided that they are distinguishable from one another (not all in one pile, or otherwise overlapping). A single card is turned face-up in the middle of the table to start a discard pile, and the remainder of the deck is placed next to it as a stockpile.
At the start of play, each player looks at exactly two (2) of their cards. They may only look at two, and only once for the whole game, so it is important to memorize them. The player to the left of the dealer then starts by drawing a card either from the stockpile or the discard pile. If they choose, they may discard this card, or use it to replace any one of their 4 face-down cards (keeping in mind that 2 of those cards remain unknown). If the player opts to replace a card, they turn the card face-up onto the discard pile, and place the new card face-down in its place. A card can be replaced as many times as a player wishes (at a rate of once per turn), but once a new card joins the face-down group, it may not be looked at again. If a player does not wish to change their cards, and also doesn’t wish risking a discard that might be advantageous to their opponents, they may NOT simply draw a card from the discard pile and immediately discard the same card. Instead, they may “knock” or pass the turn. If a player chooses to knock, they do not draw a card at the start of their turn, they are simply opting to do nothing at all. Play proceeds clockwise.
A player’s score is calculated cumulatively from the four cards they possess. Card values are:
- Kings = 0 points
- Aces = 1 point
- Jacks & Queens = 10 points
- 2 – 10 = face value
To be the player with the lowest total score at the end of play. There are many different variations of the game, all of which suggest a different way to end the game. The most common seems to be playing a predetermined number of rounds (either 9 or 18, just as in the sport of golf). After every player has played hands equal to the predetermined number, all cards are turned face-up and the score tallied. Still other variations suggest that every time a card is replaced, the new card remains face-up for everyone to see, and play ends when a single player has 4 face-up cards in front of them. The remaining players then turn any face-down cards face-up, and the scores are tallied. There is also a slightly more juvenile version where at any point during the game, a player may call out “golf” at which point all play stops, and players turn up their cards to see who won.
The number of ways to play this game are really only limited by ones imagination. There are versions which include a layout of 6 cards instead of 4. Other versions have players starting with anywhere from 8-10 cards. Variations in scoring include deuces being worth -2 points, jacks being worth 20 points (or sometimes 0 points). Sometimes one can designate certain cards (like one-eyed jacks, or even added jokers) to be wild cards. The possibilities are quite staggering. Just make sure to agree on the rules ahead of time!