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Subject: [WIP] Scorecards – a solo golf game using a deck of playing cards rss

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Chris Stoakes
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This is a simple but satisfying solo golf game that uses a single pack of playing cards – ideal if you’re a golf nut away on a business trip with time to while away in a hotel or a departure lounge.

Take a deck of cards. Retain the Jokers (optional). Shuffle and deal yourself 7 cards. This is your ‘bag’ of golf clubs. Depending on the hole – whether Par 3, Par 4 or Par 5 (see below), you will need certain cards to complete it. Play each card in turn, drawing a fresh card from the deck as you go along to replace the one just played. At the end of the hole, record your score then discard as many cards from your bag as you wish and draw as many fresh cards from the deck. Play the next hole. And so on.

What cards do you have in your bag? The card values are as follows:
Ace = 1 Putt
2 = 2 Putts
3 = 3 Wood
4 = Long Iron
5,6,7 = Medium Irons
8,9 = Short Irons
10 = Pitching or Sand Wedge
Jack = Hazard
Queen = Hazard Recovery or 2 Putts
King = Driver
Joker = wild card (optional)

If you don’t have an Ace or 2 you automatically 3-putt without playing a card.

If you draw a Jack you have to play it as an additional stroke unless you can play a Queen or Joker next in which case no stroke is added (you cannot discard a Jack between holes).

What cards do you need for each hole? That depends on its par, as follows.
Par 3
-(Any of 4 to 7) to get on the green in 1 stroke
or
-(8 or 9) followed by (10) to get on in 2 strokes

Par 4
-(King, 3 or 4) then (3-7) = on in 2
or
-(King, 3 or 4) then (8,9 or 10) and (8,9 or 10) = on in 3
or
-(5-7) then (5-10) then (5-10) = on in 3

Par 5
-(King, 3 or 4) then (King, 3 or 4) = on in 2
or
-(King, 3 or 4) then (5-7) then (5-7) or (8-10)= on in 3
or
(5-7) then (5-7) then (5-10) then (5-10) = on in 4

Plus points about this game
Thematic – the game focuses on course management. How to get around a golf course as efficiently as possible. The challenge lies in deciding when to discard and when to hold on to cards for future holes. If you hoard too much you won’t have the right cards for this hole. It’s not like swinging a golf club but it reflects the mental game of golf. Invariably there will be a few holes where you blow up (take more than par) but that’s just like a real round (at least for amateur golfers like me). The challenge is to keep going in the face of adversity – which is what the true game is all about.

Small footprint – no board.

Infinite replayability – you can play Pebble Beach or your local course (you just need to know the order of holes) or invent one. Most golf courses are par 72 with each 9 made up of 2 par 5s, 2 par 3s and 5 par 4s adding up to 36. You can play a 9-hole course if short of time.

Scalable – works with 2 or more (you need an additional deck per player). If you use decks with the same back then the way the Jack works is any player can play it against another player by adding it on top of a card they just played (before they putt). They must then play a Queen or Jack or take the 1-stroke penalty. Of course they may then do it back to you on a later hole!

Flexible – apply your own variants. For instance, if you use the same coloured cards on a hole (all red or all black) you reduce your score on that hole by 1 stroke. If you use cards all from the same suit reduce the hole by 2 (with a minimum of 1 stroke on par 3s and 2 on par 4s and 5s). This permits for hole-in-ones. Another example. You can make the two red Jacks (Diamond and Heart) count as bunkers for which you need a 10 (Sand Wedge) to get out.

Different difficulty levels possible – for instance, how often you shuffle the deck before replenishing can affect difficulty. You could reshuffle after every hole or only after the front 9 as you prefer. You may also say that you can only discard and replenish, say, 3 cards from the bag between holes. The Queen may just be Hazard Recovery rather than also being 2 Putts.
There are many more combinations of clubs possible for par 5s to make it easier.

Play through
Deal yourself 7 cards and look at your hand. Arrange it into (1) Drivers, 3 Woods and Long Irons (2) Mediums and Short Irons (3) Hazard and Recovery cards and finally (4) Putts and Jokers. Do you have a balanced bag? If not you can discard up to the entire bag before replenishing back up to 7.

Assume the opening hole is a par 4. You will see that it can be played in a number of ways depending on the cards which you hold. Assume also that your first deal gave you a 3, a 4, a 5, a 7, two 9s, a Jack and a 2. It means you have a 3 Wood, two Medium Irons, two Short Irons, Hazard and a Two Putt. On the first par 4 you can get off the tee with the 3, hit the green with the 5 (or 7) and play the 2 to get down in par. In picking up after playing the 3 and then again after playing the 5 or 7 you may pick up an Ace; if so you can use that to birdie the hole.

So you have parred the first and have replenished your bag as you go along. Now, let's say that after playing that first hole you picked up a 4, a 10 and a Queen as you went along. On your way to the second tee, you are allowed to discard and replenish. What are you holding? Two 4s (unusual, since there are only four in the pack), a 7, two 9s (assuming you didn't swap one of them at the outset), a 10, a Jack and a Queen. The problem is, you don't have any putting cards. Why not discard the two 9s before you tee off in the hope of picking up an Ace or 2 up? Alternatively you may get in the cards you pick up as you play the second hole.

OK. You tee off on the second, with a Long Iron (you haven't a King or 3). Let's say you pick up an 8 - not much help since it's another Short Iron. Now, you can use another Long Iron to get on the green in two. But you also play the Jack (Hazard) and the Queen (Recovery) to enable you to pick up three cards to replenish the bag. Of the three you pick up, one is an Ace. You play that next - a birdie three!

And so you go on, exchanging cards between holes, playing cards from the bag, managing your way round the course. It's at this point that you'll find the game becomes really interesting, because although each hole is relatively straightforward to play (and quick – the game moves along swiftly, which keeps it and your interest going) you start having to juggle the demands of the immediate hole you are playing against those that are coming up ("The next is a par 3 which means I can use a Medium Iron off the tee so I can therefore use my Long Iron (4) on this par 4 since at the moment I've got no Kings or 3s"). This is where it becomes a strategic, course management game.

Any comments, suggestions, criticisms, improvements – all welcome.

© Christopher Stoakes 1994 and 2016 – anyone can print and play provided they don’t do so for commercial gain.

Edit: I originally made a mistake in the club combinations for par 5s.
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Eric Miller
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Cool! I've been looking for a more portable golf game- my physical golf game stinks!
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Dejun King
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This sounds fantastic, I am going to start collecting local golf course score cards as these usually have course layouts on them depicting yardage and hazards. I am also thinking of purchasing 2 decks and splitting the cards for a red player and a black player for a competitive game. I am also going to assign yardage to the clubs and this way from the 7 cards you have in your hand you can play as few cards as possible from your hand to complete the hole and each card you use counts as a stroke. Then if you can not make it to the hole with the 7 cards you have in your hand for every "X" yards you are short you tack on a stroke and move on to the next hole. I love this idea though, thank you for showing me this game I am very impressed and have been looking for something like this for awhile.
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Chris Stoakes
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dejunking wrote:
This sounds fantastic, I am going to start collecting local golf course score cards as these usually have course layouts on them depicting yardage and hazards. I am also thinking of purchasing 2 decks and splitting the cards for a red player and a black player for a competitive game. I am also going to assign yardage to the clubs and this way from the 7 cards you have in your hand you can play as few cards as possible from your hand to complete the hole and each card you use counts as a stroke. Then if you can not make it to the hole with the 7 cards you have in your hand for every "X" yards you are short you tack on a stroke and move on to the next hole. I love this idea though, thank you for showing me this game I am very impressed and have been looking for something like this for awhile.

Great idea! I realised looking again at what I had posted that the par 5 combinations were inaccurate. In fact there are many more combinations realistically possible even if it means you take four or five strokes to get on the green - I didn't bother to list them all because it would look off-putting to the casual reader.
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Dejun King
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Thank you, also I am going to make a chance deck out of the jokers (3 black one red). This will be for attempting hole in ones and chip in shots. Once per hole while at the tee box or on the fairway you can declare to use the chance deck. if you pull the red joker you make a hole in one or a chip in, if you pull a black joker you either drive it into the woods so far you lose your ball adding an additional 2 strokes or you top the ball in the fairway gaining little to no yardage and add a stoke to your score. This chance deck can only be used once per hole per player and once a player uses the chance deck it is always reshuffled to keep it random.
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Roland Johansson
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looks interesting, I must try it when I find the time
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Eric Miller
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Kitsto wrote:


Any comments, suggestions, criticisms, improvements – all welcome.



Okay, tried a few random holes at lunch. Doesn't work so good with just random playing (but that's expected) so here's a scorecard everyone can use to help test this out:
Image from: https://www.waikoloabeachgolf.com/images/Waikoloa_Beach_Cour...

I'm not sure about the "chance deck" Dejun mentioned. The cards I pulled had no jokers at all.

One items that did come up was a possible designation of "hot" and "cold" clubs. A red (hot) club will carry farther and be more accurate than a cold (black) club. In a par 3 (for example) A heart or diamond 4-9 has a chance of being a hole in one. If I have (don't have to play) an Ace (any color) I record a hole in one. If I play a spade or club 4-9, then it's just one stroke. I play the Ace after that, and I card a 2 for the hole.

Works the same for the Par 4 & 5 holes. If I use a red card to get to the green, that takes one stroke off the putt. So if I reach the green and have no "putt" cards, then instead of being a 3-putt, it is only a 2-putt. And yes, if I have an Ace, then the hot shot would have gone into the hole. So if you play it really well, you could card a 2 on a par 5.

The hot/cold cards have no effect on driving or on "middle" clubs- only on reaching the green.

If you're having trouble with the images, here's the holes/pars:
1-4
2-3
3-4
4-5
5-4
6-3
7-5
8-3
9-4

10-5
11-4
12-3
13-4
14-4
15-4
16-4
17-3
18-4
Par 70

If you play, give us an idea of what cards you used- and when you reshuffled... At least that's what I'll try to do...
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Dejun King
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After work today I am going to go buy 4 regular poker playing card decks. (Not needed with OP but I want up to 4 players to be able to play the Hearts, the Clubs, the Spades, the Diamonds with their own player decks or "bags") I am going to try a single player game with the following variant I've concocted on the following course (9 Hole). I am assuming my variant will be an epic failure but the idea of a golfing card game that uses just playing cards is just to good to pass up.

 



Player decks will consist of the following cards

QTY / Card / Club or Effect / Distance Produced

3 / K / Driver / 200
2 / 3 / 3 Wood / 150
2 / 4 / 4 Iron / 100
2 / 5 / 5 Iron / 90
2 / 6 / 6 Iron / 80
2 / 7 / 7 Iron / 70
2 / 8 / 8 Iron / 60
2 / 9 / 9 Iron / 50
3 / 10 / PW / 40
3 / A / Putter / 1 Putt
2 / 2 / Putter / 2 Putt

3 / J / Discard from your hand to avoid Hazard
2 / Q / Discard from your hand to either negate a single stroke or shuffle discard pile into your player deck.

RULES:

At the beginning of the game shuffle your player deck and set it next to you. Also shuffle the "Chance Deck" (2 Black Jokers and 1 Red Joker)and set it in the middle of the table accessible to everyone playing. (Chance deck explained in additional rules below)

When starting the game or beginning a new hole draw 7 cards.

Once per hole before you play the hole you may choose any number of the 7 drawn and discard them drawing back up to a hand of 7.

With these 7 cards you will try and produce the total distance stated on the reference score sheet. (For example on hole one the total distance to the green is 354 and I have a hand of K, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, & 9. In order to produce the distance needed to make it to the green I lay down a K, 4, & 8 (total 360) which lands me on the green. Then to putt the ball into the hole I lay down the 2 making my total score for the hole 5)

Once you are done with a hole you will discard the cards you used (keeping any unused cards in your hand) and draw back up to a 7 card hand.

This will continue until you complete a 9 hole round of golf.

ADDITIONAL RULES:

-You do not need a driver to tee off, an Iron can be used.

-If you do not have a putting card (A or 2) in hand when on the green you automatically receive a 3 putt.

-If the total distance you produce with your cards exceeds the total distance to the green by 40 you receive an additional stroke for overshooting the green.

-If the cards you lay down equal the exact distance required by the score card to reach the green it is considered a Chip In and no putting is required.

-A queen can be discarded from your hand after completing a hole in order to either remove a single stoke from that holes score or reshuffle your discard pile into your player deck. (Queens are removed from the game after use)

-The "Chance Deck" consists of 2 Black Jokers and 1 Red Joker. This deck is used for two things:
A) Using the Chance deck to try and preform a Hole in One. To attempt a Hole in One you must be able to achieve the total distance shown on the score card with a single club card. Lay down a single card to cover the distance and announce you are attempting a Hole in One shot, then reveal the top card of the "Chance Deck". If it is a red Joker you make a Hole in One! If you reveal a black Joker you hit the ball so far out of bounds you lose your ball and must take a 2 stroke penalty and retry the hole from the tee box. You may only attempt a single Hole in One shot per game.
B) Deciding if your ball is hit into a hazard. (explained with Jack ruling below)

-A Jack can be discarded from your hand at the beginning of a hole to avoid a hazard (water or sand trap). If a jack is not discarded from your hand at the beginning of a hole and you are on a hole containing a hazard you play you hand as normal and then before putting you reveal the top card of the "Chance Deck". If you reveal a Red Jack you avoid the Hazard. If you reveal a Black Jack you take the following penalties.
A Water hazard has a 2 stroke penalty.
A Sand hazard has a 1 stroke penalty.

After playing this variant I will comment on how it went.
(Hope to hear others comment as well as they attempt a few hole from the OP) Cheers
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Eric Miller
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Okay, played a game as close to the OP rules as I could. Got a couple of questions...

First, I shuffled after 9 holes. That was about 1/2 way through the deck, so that seemed to be about right. I think it would be just too much shuffling to do it after every hole.

I used the Golo golf scorecard. I managed to birdie then eagle the first two holes. Managed to get a 1 over 37 for the front nine. I ended up only redrawing the cards I used on the hole. If I used four cards, I drew four to replace them.

I wasn't ever quite sure WHEN and HOW OFTEN I could discard cards and redraw them before teeing off on the next hole. I *think* that only at the end of the hole should be the only time to discard extra cards, then draw your bag up to seven cards. And those seven cards are what you have to play the next hole with. Double-check your wording on that part- make sure us players are clear on when we can discard/draw new cards.

I understand the part about not discarding Jacks, but I didn't see a part where I MUST play them. I had 3 in my hand at the end of the first nine, and again at the end of the back nine. If we MUST play a Jack when we draw it, that part needs to be clearer. If I can just carry it until I reshuffle the deck, that's fine- it just needs to be clear.

The back nine went like the front nine. I carded a 2 over par 38, making a respectable 75 for the round. I did find it odd that a 3-putt was automatic. But right now, I don't see any other way to do it. Do give my earlier suggestion of hot/cold clubs some thought. I'll try again with that as part of the rules.

The last suggestion would be some pictures. It's not hard to figure out- everyone just likes seeing pictures...
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Dejun King
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After getting home and cracking the first pack of playing cards open I played the front nine of my local golf course with the OP rules. I found the game enjoyable right out of the box. I had a lot of the same rules questions as (govmiller) stated but in my play through I used the Jacks as soon as they entered my hand and did not draw a card after discarding the jack making my hand size 6 which made things a little difficult but I ended my round at 3 over par which is not bad.

Then I tried my variant... After cracking all 4 playing card packs and making my bag with the ratio I stated above and crafting the chance deck my first go round with the same course was devastating, I couldn't keep up. I realized fast that a 52 card deck is best and with 4 packs I had 4 bags of 52 cards (diamonds, Hearts, Clubs, Spades). This went a little smoother and I really like the idea of assigning distances to the clubs and working out the math between them and the distance on the score card. It felt very satisfying to match both distances and considering it a chip in from the fairway saving me a putter that I did not need to use. Removing the chance deck though I would still like to have some very challenging way to attempt a Hole in One on short holes but I cant seem to figure out how to do it. I also am intrigued by the idea of hot and cold clubs and would like to hear more ideas on them. After using my variant and upping my Bag to 52 cards I made par on the front nine (a couple chip in birdies helped when I did not have a card to discard for a couple hazards) All in all it is a great start to a great game and I hope to see the original poster develop it more to a finished product. Thank you for a good solo game night last night
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Chris Stoakes
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First, I'm overwhelmed that anyone should be giving this game a go, so thank you very much.

Second, my rules are really just suggestions for you to adapt as you wish. In terms of the questions raised (and feel free to ignore or contradict what follows):

Replenishing - I have always allowed myself to replenish after each card played so I always have 7 in my hand. Why? Because I may start a hole without an Ace, 2 or Queen, and this at least gives me the chance of picking one up en route to the green to avoid three-putting. BTW a 3-putt is the default because most pros would feel that's a shot dropped (in real life I regularly 4- and 5-putt).

Discarding - I tend to allow myself to discard up to 3 cards (and replenish) between holes. But allowing all 7 should make the game easier, which gives people playing the game for the first time easier playability.

Jacks - what I meant to say above was that you play a Jack like any other card (and immediately replenish) but unless you can play a Queen immediately after the Jack, the Jack counts as a stroke without advancing you to the hole. In other words it's a dropped shot (for instance going into a water hazard or failing to get out of a bunker first time). If you can play a Queen, the Queen negates the Jack, neither counts as a stroke and you replenish in the usual way (so after the Queen as well). Following what I said above about replenishing after each card, I have had the fluke of picking up a Queen as the card replenishing my play of a Jack and escaped the penalty - which felt like a brilliant recovery shot! The point about not being able to discard the Jack is that you can't just get rid of it between holes. Once it is in your hand you have to play it at some point (or hold on to it till you complete your round)t. So this gives you a decision to take. Do you play it now (or soon) and take the penalty stroke or do you allow it to clog up your bag while hoping to draw a Queen? Once you have 2 Jacks in your bag you're in trouble because your bag is now effectively only 5 clubs strong, which really reduces the clubs available to you. It was this sort of tension I was trying to create.

Shuffling / number of decks - you've put your finger on what I think (but may be wrong) is a key factor in determining the game's difficulty. Shuffling after every hole is a pain but does bring all discards back into potential play. Shuffling after 9 holes is tougher because once good cards have come and gone you won't see them again until the back nine. The more decks you use the easier it should be - up to a point (I know nothing about stats or probability). I personally play with two decks and reshuffle after nine holes. This gives me the level of challenge I can cope with.

Yardages - using cards to replicate actual distances is fascinating. I didn't try that because I wanted a fast-play game that moved away from any sense of actual terrain (which is what most golf games with boards try to do). But this sounds great and if it works for you then do it.

Final thought - how you play, which rules you adopt or change, is entirely up to you. Some people want to feel like champion golfers so they want substantially sub-par rounds, so they need 'easier' rules to make that possible. For me I like to be a better club player than I actually am so anything that's ten over par or less is good and gives me a target to beat next time. In general any score that is around par or a couple over or under is pretty good. What I wanted to mimic is that heart-in-mouth moment when you risk blowing up your scorecard with a double or triple bogey - where you've used your best cards on one hole hoping something would turn up as you replenish after each card or when you discard and replenish between holes, only to find it hasn't. It also keeps you on the edge of your seat as you draw each fresh card to see what it is. That's what I was after.

Edits: to correct typos.
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Eric Miller
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Yes- the drawing after hitting would really change things up. I'll have to give it a play that way and see. Doing that would actually make holding on to any Jacks easier.

I'm with Dejun on the club lengths. In a real golf game, I know how long my clubs normally hit for me. Different for my dad. I might take a 6 or 7 iron, when he would take a 3 iron. It makes some sense that if I can get on a green in 2, there is a good chance I'll also be able to finish out the hole in 1 or 2 putts. Taking a mandatory 3 putt (because I don't have an Ace or a Joker) doesn't always make sense.

And that's where the hot/cold clubs come in. If I can play a "hot" club (red suit) to get on the green, I automatically take 1 less putt. If I have (or draw) an Ace or Joker, then the hot club got the ball in the cup. This doesn't mean the black suits are worthless- in the right combo those will lead to a birdie. All this does is add a level of strategy regarding which "5" to play or maybe to discard to get a "hot" club.

I'll give it a couple more rounds and see. But I think this is some good stuff!
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Chris Stoakes
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Yes, I really like the idea of making use of the suits to create hot clubs or combos. It hadn't really occurred to me so it's great to see.
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Dejun King
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Just thought I should say thank you Chris for making a great skeleton to work from, I applaud the idea. I am currently thinking of ways with my graphic designer friends to make this a themed card game as an upgrade from the playing card style for personal home use. I think it will be a hit with some of my more athletic friends who enjoy the sport already. Thank you again and keep these kinds of ideas flowing because this idea is a hit in my opinion
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Derek H
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Out of interest, how does this compare to Mini Golf?
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Eric Miller
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gamesbook wrote:
Out of interest, how does this compare to Mini Golf?


Different. I'd have to work through Mini Golf, but this one is meant for a full 18 hole course with club selection. You pull clubs from your bag, so there's no 7x7 layout, and there's always a move. Still a WIP, but Derek hits on a point- it might be worthwhile to look at some other golf games to see how they handle club selection. Other items of interest are side items like course conditions and wind/weather.
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J F

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It might be interesting to have a little mini "event" deck of playing cards. These cards might do nothing, show wind that might assist or hurt a swing, demonstrate a tough or easy green for that hole etc.
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Joseph Propati
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I think everyone needs to remember that this was created as a 52 card deck game and if you start adding more cards it losses that requirement to stay in the solitaire deck thread.
I do think variants are a bonus to the mechanics and depth of play.
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Jimmy Pattaya
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I've played at least half a dozen boxed golf games over many years, but I think this system is the easiest, the quickest & the best. As you can see from the numerous responses, this approach with standard playing card decks is tailor-made (excuse the pun) for all kinds of House Rules. It certainly got my creative juices flowing & I made numerous modifications on top of the basic structural framework presented here by many of you. In my opinion, the possibilities are truly endless to reach the level of realism vs ease of play that you desire.

The way I play golf solo in a card or boardgame format is probably different than most other gamers. I've taken this new system & merged it with my 1976 edition of "In Pursuit of Par" (TPC Sawgrass edition). Then I've added about 500 real-life golf professionals (past & present) & classified them according to 4 groupings (the top one being "Legends of the Game"). The best golfers potentially get the best bonuses although there's a random element as well. Then I randomly constructed a tournament field of 144 entrants for the Player's Championship at Sawgrass --- which will be pared down to Top 70 plus ties for Rounds 3 & 4.

And yes I do play every hole for every golfer, which is why this quickest of all systems using poker playing cards seems ideal for my needs. As it is, it will probably take me about a year & a half to complete one tournament (if I can maintain my average pace of 6 holes per day per threesome). And it's not the only game I play solo. I usually have 3 or 4 other games taking place at the same time.

Thanks to everyone for all your great ideas.
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Chris Stoakes
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dejunking wrote:
Just thought I should say thank you Chris for making a great skeleton to work from, I applaud the idea. I am currently thinking of ways with my graphic designer friends to make this a themed card game as an upgrade from the playing card style for personal home use. I think it will be a hit with some of my more athletic friends who enjoy the sport already. Thank you again and keep these kinds of ideas flowing because this idea is a hit in my opinion

Thank you. I'm thrilled at the response. I'd love to see a thematic deck. As it is I try to play with golf-themed cards (even if it's just a single golf illustration on the back). What would be great is a deck where each card has a famous hole or golfer. I expect such decks may already exist.
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Everett
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Presque Isle
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I own a set of playing cards with golf rules inside. But it doesn't seem to be in BGG.


Sorry, this already exists. But yours is way, way, way, WAY better than what I own. Good luck to you!meeple
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Dennis Frank
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Bradford
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Too many games! Too many games! How can you have too many games?!?
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Amazon has a bunch of golf themed playing cards listed including ones with golfers (though not famous), courses and holes: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3...
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Chris Stoakes
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djfrank wrote:
Amazon has a bunch of golf themed playing cards listed including ones with golfers (though not famous), courses and holes: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3...

That's great - thank you - sorry: I should have thought of that.
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Joseph Propati
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San Diego
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I'm creating a 52 card deck to be used for the golf game and looking for feedback.

Here are the Aces, two's and three's!
















Here is the Card logo image



Reference cards
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Eric Miller
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College Station
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kingspud wrote:
I'm creating a 52 card deck to be used for the golf game and looking for feedback.


More to come...


Those look good! My only suggestions:

I thought the Queen cancelled a Jack or was a 2 putt...

Putting some sort of notation about what club combos reach what holes. Like K + (3-7) = green would be on the K cards...

Or if you go with Dejun's idea of yardage, then if I play a 420 yd hole, I can see how far each club would go... So the yardage would then need to be on each card.
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