Table Golf Game Review

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The Basics:

  • For ages 4 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
  • For 1 to 6 players
  • Variable game play length

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Hand/Eye Coordination & Dexterity
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Visuospatial Skills

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Play an exciting and frustrating round of Golf at your kitchen table or floor

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek mixed!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

I believe Golf is fundamentally flawed. You have to pay to play a game that is all about taking a walk, while attempting to hit a very small ball into a very small hole with a metal stick. To me, that’s the very definition of insanity. Many believe differently, however. Oddly enough, I have no problem playing Golf-like games. For example, Disc Golf or this game, which is all about chucking small cards.

Table Golf, designed by Aaron “Tomrel” Gresham and published by Zagix Games via the Game Crafter, is comprised of 6 Golf Ball cards, 13 Weather cards, 10 “Water” Hazard cards, 10 “Sand Trap” Hazard cards, 10 “Rough” Hazard cards, 1 Hole card, 1 Start Player card, and 1 Starting Location card. Not included with the game, but necessary to play, is a pen or pencil and a piece of paper to keep track of players’ scores. The cards are as thick as your standard playing card and devoid of any images. The text on the cards is short and to the point. The entire game is very minimalistic in design, making the game very functional but devoid of any visual interest.

Note: Table Golf is meant to be played at the table with players standing around it. It’s not necessary, however, to use a table. You can use the floor, the stairs, or anywhere else you can think of. Except the streets..don’t play in the street.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, first hand to each player a Golf Ball card. Any Golf Ball cards not handed out should be returned to the game box.

Second, separate the Start Player and Starting Location cards from the remaining cards. Set these two cards to the side.

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Third, separate the Weather and the Hazard cards into two different decks. Shuffle the Weather deck and place it to one side, face-down.

Fourth, shuffle the Hazard cards (one of which will be the Hole card) together to form one deck. Deal out the deck to all the players, face-down. The number of cards each player will have will be dependent on the number of players and one or more players might have less cards than their opponents. When done, all the Hazard cards should be dealt to the players.

Fifth, all the players should now look at their hand of cards. One player will have the Hole card. This is the first player for the round.

Tee Off

Note: The rules to Table Golf can be a bit vague at times. What follows is my groups’ and my personal interpretation of the rule book.

Table Golf is played in rounds and turns. There is no set number of rounds that must be played. Players can decide to play a full 18 (18 rounds), only 9 holes (9 rounds), or any number of rounds they like. A typical round is summarized here.

Step 1: Set Up the Hole

For the first hole, the player who was dealt the Hole card will complete the following steps. In all subsequent holes, the player who had the best score for that hole will complete the following steps:

  1. Draw 1 Weather card and place it face-up next to the Weather deck. This Weather card effects this round only. The Weather card should be read out loud to all the players. The Weather card adjusts how players will take shots during their turn during the round. For example, the “Behind the Back” Weather card instructs all the players to plant their feet facing away from the playing area before they take their shot!
  2. Place the Hole card anywhere on the playing area or randomly toss it.
  3. Place the Starting Location anywhere on the playing area. Players will start from this card’s position.
  4. Place the Start Player card so the “?” is facing towards the hole and is behind the Starting Location card.

Step 2: Set Up Hazards

Starting with the first player and going clockwise in turn order sequence, players will now take turns selecting 1 Hazard card from their hand and “flicking” it to the playing surface from behind the Starting Location card. Flicking is defined as “placing your hand so that it touches the table and then holding the card between your pointer and middle fingers, tossing the card onto the table.” If not playing at a table, simply flick the card.

When two Hazard cards of the same type have been flicked, that type of Hazard card cannot be flicked to the table for the duration of this round. Once all 3 Hazard types have 2 cards in the playing area, the Hazard cards of the same type are moved together so they are touching. Players then continue in turn order sequence placing (not flicking) their Hazard cards, attaching them to the same type.

Each of the Hazard card types are summarized here.

  • Water Hazard: When a Golf Ball card touches this Hazard card, the player must flick the Golf Ball card using only their thumb (in the same way they would flip a coin).
  • Sand Trap Hazard: When a Golf Ball card touches this Hazard card, the player must flick the Golf Ball card from this position using only their pinky and ring finger.
  • Rough Hazard: When a Golf Ball card touches this Hazard card, the player must flick the Golf Ball card from this position using only their thumb and middle finger.

Hazards can only ever touch a Hazard of the same type and can never touch the Hole card. If a Hazard card is accidentally flicked off the table or touches a Hazard card of a different type, the owning player retrieves it and tries again.

Step 3: Take a Swing Flick

Starting with the first player, each player now flicks their Golf Ball card towards the Hole card from behind the Starting Location card. Flicked Golf Ball cards remain where they land. After all the players have flicked their Golf Ball cards, game play continues with the first player flicking their Golf Card again from where it landed. The other players follow suit. This continues until a player touches the Hole card with their Golf Ball card.

REMEMBER to play the game and take flicks in accordance to the Weather card and Hazard cards!

Step 4: Scoring and Continued Play

The first player to have their Golf Ball card touch any part of the Hole card is given the score of “0” and their Golf Ball card is removed for the duration of the round. The Start Player card is then rotated clockwise so the next number (+1) is on top. Game play now continues.

Note: At this point in the rule book, the method of keeping score becomes difficult to interpret. Our group just ignored the Start Player card for the most part and awarded a “0” to the first player to flick their Golf Ball card to the Hole card, a “+1” for the second player, a “+2” for the third, and a “+3” for all the other players. This worked well and kept the game moving at an excellent pace.

Game Variant

Easy Scoring

Instead of keeping track of individual player scores, have the player who first touches the Hole card with their Golf Ball card collect and keep the Weather card. At the end of the game, the player with the most Weather cards wins.

House Rules

Perfect Weather

Ignore the Weather cards. It’s a perfect day to play golf!

No Hazards

The game can be hard enough as it is! For first time players and for your youngest of Child Geeks, try a round or two with no hazards to hamper game play or fun.

Less Hazards

Sometimes there can be too many Hazards to make the game fun for the less experienced player. Once a Hazard has 2 cards of the same type out, that Hazard card can no longer be played. This reduces each hole to smaller hazards, but there is still the challenge of getting around them.

Going Solo

You can easily play Table Golf by yourself. Simply following the instructions and attempt to beat your best score.

Designed Courses

Instead of randomly creating the Hazards and placement of the Hole card, have some creative fun by making unique holes by adding in pillows, purposely place the Hazard cards, and add a chair or two.

To learn more about Table Golf, visit the game’s web page.

Prediction

This game is going to frustrated a number of our players. When was the last time you attempted to flick a playing card? Even if it was within the last 24 hours, I highly doubt you would consider yourself a “sharpshooter”. A thrown playing card has an unpredictable flight path and can be effected by the slightest breeze. I believe that most of our players will simply muscle their way through the game, flicking the card with various degrees of rage. A few of our more strategic players might attempt to develop a tactic or two based on their observations of how the cards fly, but I doubt it will lead to anything. Regardless, I think the game is going to be well received by the Child Geeks and the Parent Geeks. Table Golf is silly fun. For the Gamer Geeks, I have no doubt they’ll enjoy it, but perhaps not well enough to endorse it fully.

Teaching Table Golf is best done by giving everyone a Golf Ball card and letting them flick it a few times at the Hole card. Let players do this until they feel like they have the hang of it. It’s very important that players start to get a general idea of how cards flip and flop in the air. If they don’t, every flick is going to be followed by a groan. The rest of the game is simple enough to teach as you go, including the Hazards. Just make sure all the players understand that Hazards should be avoided.

After teaching Table Golf to my family, I asked them their thoughts on the game so far.

“Sounds like fun!” ~ Liam (age 9)

“I like how we get to make the course.” ~ Nyhus (age 6)

“Can I go first, Daddy?” ~ Ronan (age 4)

I have high hopes for Table Golf. Simple Action/Dexterity games can be fun to play and energetic. Let’s take a couple of swings and see if Table Golf is a hole in one or we give it the birdie.

Final Word

The Child Geeks really liked the idea of the game and really got into it. They were frustrated at first with their inability to flick the cards the way they wanted to, but they quickly overcame and overcompensated. Some of the stances the Child Geeks took were hilarious. One Child Geek insisted that sticking out his tongue was necessary to flick the card accurately. According to one Child Geek, “What I like about this game is that you get to throw cards!” True enough! All the Child Geeks enjoyed themselves, even if their Golf Ball cards never did what they wanted. Much like adult golfers, they grumbled, kicked the ground, and walked away from the game with a smile. All the Child Geeks voted to approve Table Golf.

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My youngest Child Geek takes his opening flick while his brothers cheer and jeer him on…

The Parent Geeks were very much of the same mind as the Child Geeks. Their comments closely paralleled their children, as did their levels of frustration. The only aspect that was different were the more colorful words they muttered under their breath when their Golf Ball cards flipped and flopped onto Hazard cards. According to one Parent Geek, “I play Golf and stink at it, but I find that game easier than this one.” Another Parent Geek said, “Never before have I felt so bad about not being able to flick a card.” All the Parent Geeks agreed that the game was unique, entertaining to a point, and was a game they would play again. When it came time to vote, many middle fingers were extended, followed by approved thumbs-up.

The Gamer Geeks found Table Golf to be a silly distraction at best. A number of them made the offhanded comment that the game could be greatly improved with an “adult beverage”. Few disagreed. Overall, the Gamer Geeks didn’t find the game to be a bad one. What killed it for some was the repetitive nature of the game. Reducing the game to 9 rounds helped, but the enthusiasm of the players started to quickly die around round 3. According to one Gamer Geek, “All I’m doing it flicking a card until I get it to the hole or an opponent does. I might as well just be rolling dice.” Not all the Gamer Geeks agreed. Some of them really enjoyed Table Golf, finding it to be a challenging and fun distraction. According to one of these Gamer Geeks, “This game is all about getting away from the table and I like that. It’s a game I would gladly play at cons, as a filler, or whenever I just wanted to have fun.” When the votes were counted, Table Golf found both approvals and rejections from the Gamer Geek elitists.

I tip my hat to Mr. Gresham for making such a maddening difficult Action / Dexterity game out of something as simple as cards. The game captures all the emotions and difficulty of a real Golf game, which depending on your love of Sports games, might or might not be a good thing. The mood of the players (and myself) swung from smoldering loathing to unbridled exultation, which takes its toll. Just when you think you’re done with the game, your card makes an incredible arc, flip, and flap to land on the Hole card. You WILL jump up and down for joy, smack talk, and high-five yourself while your opponents think dark thoughts that involve you and sharp garden tools.

The rules need work, but the game play is solid. Table Golf is challenging and everyone can play it. It’s just not a game you’ll want to play often due to how bad it makes you feel. Or, you can do as I do, and simply enjoy Table Golf for what it is. My little geeks enjoyed it long enough to make it worthwhile and it does have a certain charm. If nothing else, it’s a novelty and a hell of a lot cheaper than playing a round of real Golf.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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