Rules for Golf Card Game – Setup, Gameplay & Winning

Face-up playing cards fanned on a red background.

Many people enjoy the game of golf, but not all of us are able to go on a routine journey through 9 or 18 holes.

There is a card game that can bring some of the joy to you in your home. That would be the Golf card game.

What are the rules of the golf card game? For four-card golf, players are dealt 4 cards that will be arranged in a square and remain facedown. Players take turns selecting the top card from the stock or discard pile. Play continues until a player knocks, at which points, card scores are tallied and the lowest score wins. 

Let us expand on and break down the game a little further. After that we will go into a couple of variations to help keep your games fresh and interesting.

Playing the Golf Card Game: Quick Guide

As with any game, there are basic rules and multiple ways to play. Here are the basics for the golf card game.

  • Number of players: 2-8
  • Deck: 52 card playing deck, 2 decks for large groups
  • Object of the game: construct a layout with the lowest score
  • Winning the game: the player with the lowest score wins

Setting Up the Game

Now that we have the basics covered. Let’s set up the game. Most people use the four card rule, and that’s what we will cover in this section.

Grab your deck, and shuffle the cards. Each player is dealt four cards one at a time to start.

Once the cards are dealt, they should be arranged in a square face down. Place the remaining cards face down on the table, and flip the first card over and place it beside the stack to start the discard pile.

Each player may peak once at the two closest cards from their layout but may not look again during play. And voilà, you’re ready to play.

How Many Decks of Cards Does It Take To Play Golf?

It usually takes one deck to play the game; however with large groups, you may opt to use two decks. 

Can 5 People Play the Golf Card Game?

Yes, the game can be played with 2-8 players. For a 5-player game, all five players get four cards that are arranged in a square face down.

Playing the Golf Card Game

Dealer shuffles cards and deals four to each player after which the players face them face down in a square format.

  1. The player to the left of the dealer begins. They either draw the top card from the remaining deck, draw the top discard, or “knock,” which means to do nothing and end the round. 
  2. Should you draw a card, look at it, and choose which card on the table it will replace. Keep in mind you cannot look at any of the four cards that are already face down and you only want to wind up with low-scoring cards. Pick the card you are going to replace remembering the card you are putting down.
  3. Place the replaced card in the discard face up. If you draw and decide to not replace, simply place the drawn card in the discard pile face up. If you knock, you do nothing else. Each player has one more they can choose and replace cards with and play ends. The other players cannot knock.
  4. Everyone flips their cards over and counts up the score. The lowest score wins.


Scoring is very simple.

  1. Numbered cards are taken at face value (Ace = 1, 2=2, etc.)
  2. Each Jack or Queen scores 10 points.
  3. Kings score zero points.
  4. A pair of matching-value cards counts as zero.

Winning the Game

After you have scored all your cards, the lowest scoring player wins.

A deck of playing cards fanned on a black background.

What Happens If You Tie in a Golf Card Game?

If there is a tie, the two players will draw cards to see who starts the next round. The lowest scoring card wins.

Golf Game Rules 6 Cards

  1. The dealer shuffles the card and deals six to each player – the cards are placed face down. 
  2. The game begins with the player to the left of the dealer drawing a card. If the card is drawn from the stock and you don’t wish to use it, just place it face up on the discard pile. 
  3. If you draw the card from the discard pile, replace a card in front of you lying the card face up. There is no “knock” option in this version.
  4. Once the last of the player’s six cards are face up, the play is stopped, and scores are added up. 
  5.  A pair of  matching cards ( such as 2 2s) are counted as zero points. 
  6. The lowest score wins.

Golf Game Rules 9 Cards

This game is called “Crazy 9s” or just “9s.” This game has many variations. Some players start the game with 2 cards face up or all scores with +2 to start.

Unlike the four cards matching 2 cards rule, a column of three matching cards is scored at zero points.

The players need to agree on what happens when there is a card intersecting a line of matching cards or a card intersecting a square of matching cards. This could be whether you get a bonus or a block.

Most players choose to remove the cards from the play completely using only the ones remaining to finish the game.

At the end of the game, only the cards left in play are scored. The removed cards are not scored. 

Variations of the Game

Eagles, Birdies, Bogies and Holes in One

This variation works in more golf terms. Here’s what they mean in the card game:

Birdie – A player scores a birdie when the final layout consists of 3 cards of the same rank plus a King. This scores -1.

Eagle – An eagle is scored when the player’s final layout consists of four cards of the same rank. This scores a -2.

Bogie – The Bogie is not so much a layout but a charge to a player who wishes to look at any one card in their layout. This adds 3 to their score. They can use it more than once, but each time three more points are added.

The hole-in-one or “Ace” –  When a player acquires all four kings, making a score of -10. Some players prefer to use Aces instead of Kings. Both are acceptable.


Instead of playing a regular game of Golf, the two players must exchange one of their cards with their opponent. Over multiple hands, as soon as one player reaches 77 points, the game is over. 

Once a card is replaced, the player can either look at the card and place it face down or says “locked!” and places it face down. The locked card cannot be exchanged further.

A player can say “Babar” as the opponent is making an exchange. The card given to them is now locked and placed faced up. Play resumes.

Jacks, Kings, and Queens score zero in this variation unless there are 2. They then count as 15 points.

Each player adds their cards to their cumulative score except the player with the lowest card points. That player takes 0 points. 

Reshuffle, and a new hand begins!

Hole in One!

There you have it. The golf card game is a simple game that can be changed and made more complicated through the many variations.

Search some other variations, and play with the game as you see fit. Remember that large groups will require a second deck to be played.

You’ll always be prepared for a game as long as you keep a deck of cards with you.

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I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!