How to Play the Golf Card Game

Golf is a game and games are fun.  That’s what I tell my kids (and a lot of my buddies that get too frustrated) every time we head to the course.  I stand firm in this adage for the game we all love that involves greens, tees, fairways, and bunkers.

But did you know there’s another type of golf that can be a lot of fun too?  And no, we aren’t talking about the kind with a clown’s mouth or that’s played with a frisbee in the park.  We’re talking about the game called Six Card Golf. 

Easy to understand and fun to play, it’s the perfect activity for youngsters or grandma and grandpa. 

What Do You Need?

All that’s needed are two to four willing bodies and a deck of cards that has jokers.  For games with more than four players, grab an additional deck.

What’s the Deal with the Deal?

At the beginning of the game, one player is nominated as the dealer.  Six cards are dealt face down to each player.  Players can’t look at their cards yet.

After all the cards have been dealt, the remainder of the deck goes in the middle with the top card being turned over and placed to the side.  This is the beginning of the discard pile.

Once the first discard is exposed, all players should arrange their cards face down in two rows of three. 

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How Do You Keep Score?

Before you start the game, make sure everyone is familiar with the scoring:

– Aces are worth one point

– Cards two through ten are worth two points

– Jack and Queen are worth 10 points

– King is worth zero points

– Jokers are worth -2 points

Two cards of equal value in the same column scores zero points.  Just like golf out on the course, the winner of the game is the player with the lowest point total. 

The game consists of nine rounds (mirroring nine holes).

The main objective is to end up with the lowest number of points at the end of each round.

Aside from gross point value, there’s another way to reduce the number of points you have.  It’s called making a set.  A set is having matching cards in the same row (one on top of the other).  These cards cancel each other out resulting in a score of zero. 

This last bit is important to remember as picking up a card worth more points can be a good strategy if it means you can cancel another card in your hand.

How Do You Start?

Like most card games, Golf starts with the player to the left of the dealer.  This player begins by flipping over two cards of their choosing. 

From here, the player to the dealer’s left has two choices.  They can either take the up card from the discard pile, or draw one from the deck in the middle. 

If the card in the discard pile matches one of the up cards or has a low point value, take it and discard another card from your hand.  Your discard can either be one that’s already face up or another that’s face down.      

Should you choose to draw a card from the deck, you have to discard one of your cards into the discard pile.

You should never have more than six cards in your hand. 

The process continues until every player in the game has had a turn. 

Rounds Two Through Eight

The order of play remains the same for the rest of the game, but things change after the first round.

Instead of players flipping two cards as they did in the first round, they have two options.  First, they can flip over a card in their hand without drawing any cards from the deck or discard pile.  If they flip a card from their hand, their turn is over. 

The second option is to draw the top card from the deck or discard pile and replace any card in their hand with it.  The card that’s replaced goes face up into the discard pile.

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The Final Round

When a player has all their cards turned over, it signals the final round.  At this point, all other players get one more turn. 

After the last player has had their last turn, all the cards are flipped over and everyone totals their points. 

Again, the player with the lowest point total is the winner of this round.

Should You Keep Score?

YES!  The process described above represents one round of nine that you’ll play.  Tally up everyone’s score for the first round. 

As you begin each subsequent round, rotate the dealer one spot to the left. 

After the ninth round is complete, the player with the lowest combined score is declared the winner. 

Are There Any Variations?

Like almost any card game, Golf can be played with a number of variations.


If you feel like spicing things up, introducing the “knock” element into the game is a fun option.  Knocking gives any player in the game the option to signal the final round where each player (except the one who knocked) has one more turn.  At this point, the player who knocked has to turn up all their cards. 

This play is best employed when a player feels they have a low-scoring hand in comparison to the rest of the table. 


Players can get as creative as they want with scoring.  A common variation is to make jokers wild.  Another popular option is to make “twos” worth -2 points.

Penalties and Bonuses

Just like scoring, you can introduce penalties and bonuses in any number of ways.  Based on the makeup of their hand, players can be allowed to add points to others or subtract points from their own hand.  Again, get as creative as you like here.  Just make sure everyone is on the same page before you start the game. 

More Rounds

If you aren’t satisfied with nine rounds, increase the number to 18 or even more!  There’s no rule saying you have to play a certain number of rounds.


Golf is a game and games are fun.  Come to think of it, I should remind myself of that more often when I’m not having my best day on the course.

Thankfully, the card game Golf is fun no matter what.  Of course, it’s always more fun when you win, but the game can be enjoyed regardless.  So, next time you’re looking for a fun way to pass the time with the kids or grandma and grandpa, give Golf a try.  Chances are they’ll enjoy it and want to add it to the repertoire in the future. 

Paul Liberatore
Paul Liberatore

As the Founder of Golfers Authority Paul Liberatore Esq. has spent the last 7+ years writing about the best golf equipment or instruction from the top golf instructors in the world. He has been a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated Golf and GolfWRX. After graduating with honors from Purdue University, he realized that he had a passion for the golf business and the law. When he's not practicing law, or creating golf content on YouTube, he can be found on his syndicated Behind the Golf Brand podcast talking with the most prolific leaders in the golf industry. 

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