How to Play Famous Fairways

Table of Contents

  1. Welcome
    • Let's get started!
  2. Setup
    • 8 course cards, 1 club card
    • 9 pennies, 9 dimes
    • The score sheet
    • Par for the course
    • Building the first hole
    • Getting ready to tee off
  3. Choosing Your Clubs
    • Claiming a club, moving your ball
    • Coins can’t share the same space
    • Player furthest away plays next
    • Limitations on wood clubs
  4. Dealing with Hazards
    • Stay on the fairway if you can
    • Bunkers: maximum 4, no hole out
    • Rough: use minimum distance
    • Water: one-stroke penalty
  5. Common Complications
    • Your only shot is blocked (whiffed shot)
    • Running out of clubs (gimme)
    • Hitting too hard (overshot)
  6. Finishing the Hole
    • Reach the cup to finish the hole
    • Score the coins you spent
    • Setting up the next hole
    • Determining who starts the next hole
  7. Winning the Game
    • Tallying your score
    • Thank you!

Looking for the rules to our Famous Fairways golf card game?

Let Coach show you how to play!


So you want to be a famous golfer, do you? Tell you what - let me be your caddy for a few holes and I’ll teach you all you need to know about the game.

Click the bottle cap to continue… »


Famous Fairways is played with nine cards. The clubs card is used throughout the game. The eight course cards will come in and out of play with each hole.

Each player receives a set of nine coins: nine pennies for use by one player and nine dimes for use by the other. Go ahead and flip one of them to determine who gets which set.

You’ll also need a score sheet. You can use one from an actual golf course or make your own. Golf courses are usually designed in multiples of nine holes but you can play as many or as few as you like.

Each hole is assigned a value of 3, 4 or 5, indicating a par, or typical score, to expect. A regulation 9-hole course will have two par 3s, five par 4s, and two par 5s. Here’s a sample course to get you started but feel free to design your own.

A hole’s par value also tells you how many course cards are used to construct it. In this case we’re building a par 3. Draw the cards randomly and lay them end to end. Then place a quarter to the right side to represent the cup.

Each player then places one of their coins, representing their golf ball, left of the cards. Your goal is to get your ball into the cup in as few moves as possible.

Choosing Your Clubs

The starting player uses a coin to claim a club from the clubs card, then moves his ball the corresponding number of spaces. Each club offers a range of distances and your ball can land wherever you want within that range.

The other player then does the same. Space on the cards is limited, however, and coins can’t share the same spot. As a result, each club can only be used once per hole and your ball can’t land in a space already occupied by your opponent.

In golf, players don’t just alternate taking turns back and forth. Instead, the player furthest from the cup always gets to go first. In this case it means that the dimes player gets to take two turns in a row.

The top two clubs on the clubs card are heavy hitters called woods. Sadly, they’re not available on par 3 holes. The 5-8 wood is reserved for par 4s and par 5s. The powerful 6-9 wood can only be used on par 5 holes.

Dealing with Hazards

It’s usually best to land on the white spaces that mark the open fairway but that’s not always possible. The other spaces are called hazards and there are three types you might encounter: bunkers, rough and water.

Bunkers are sand-filled pits that require a difficult, high-arced shot to escape. When leaving a bunker, you have a maximum distance of 4, regardless of which club you use. If your shot reaches the cup, it doesn’t quite roll in. Pay another coin to finish the hole.

The rough is the overgrown area alongside the fairway. The grass is long and you have poor access to the ball. When leaving a rough spot, you must always use your club’s minimum distance.

Many holes incorporate creeks and ponds as water hazards to capture misplaced shots. If your ball is in a water hazard, pay a coin at the start of your turn to fish it out before proceeding with your shot.

Common Complications

Beyond hazards, many other complications can also arise. In some cases, the only available club will force you into an occupied space. This is called a whiffed shot. Place your ball under your opponent’s and give them the next shot.

As each club can only be used once, you'll sometimes find that you run out of clubs before reaching the cup. If this occurs, pay an extra coin to finish the hole. This is called a gimme.

On rarer occasions, a player may overshoot, landing a space or two beyond the hole. As with a gimme, simply pay an extra coin to finish it off.

Finishing the Hole

Whether through gimmes or by choosing clubs and advancing your ball, continue pressing forward until you reach the cup. Once both balls are in the cup, the hole is complete.

After each hole, count up the coins you’ve placed on or beside the clubs card and enter that number on the scoresheet. Draw a square around the number for every point above par for that hole. For every point below par, draw a circle.

Players then retrieve their coins. The course cards are shuffled into the deck and the next hole is dealt out - the number of cards always matches the par value. The quarter is placed to the right of the cards and the players place their golf balls to the left.

The player with the highest score on the previous hole starts the next. If scores on the previous hole were tied, maintain the same starting player as before.

Winning the Game

Continue until all 9 holes are complete, then tally your score. The lowest score wins! Here’s a tip from the pros: It’s easier just to count how much you’re above or below par. Count every circle as +1 and every square as -1.

Thanks for letting me be your caddy for the day, champ! You’ve got a good eye for the game and I can tell you’re gonna be famous in no time.

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