How to Play a Joker's Wild Golf Tournament

Joker's Wild is the name of a golf tournament format that can be a very fun game for associations and playdays. It involves the use of suited playing cards, and it also involves a whole lot of luck.

Jokers Wild golf tournament format

Basics of Joker's Wild Format

  1. There are four-person teams.

  2. The tournament organizers randomly assign each member of the team one of the four playing card suits (heart, diamond, spade, club). This assignment has nothing to do with playing ability — the designations are made randomly.

  3. Then, on each hole, the players find out only after reaching the green or after completing the hole which team member's score(s) will count as the team's score.
The specifics of No. 3 above can vary depending on tournament organizers. But there are two most-commonly used ways of selecting the team score.

Two Options for Joker's Wild Scoring

So, remember, each golfer on the team has been designated a heart, diamond, club or spade. The four golfers on the team are playing regular golf — stroke play, each playing his or her own ball into the hole.

The first option for how scoring works in a Joker's Wild tournament is this:

Once team members are on the putting green, players find, in the bottom of the cup, a playing card. The suit on that playing card determines which member of the team has his score counted as the team score.

If the card is a diamond, and the player designated as the diamond makes a 6, then the team score is a 6.

This is the second option for how scoring in a Joker's Wild tournament works:

All team members finish the hole and move to the next tee. On that tee box is a sign displaying one or two card suits (depending on how many scores per hole the tournament is using). If, for example, a club and a spade are displayed, then the scores on the preceding hole by the players designated club and spade are combined for the team score.

It's also possible that one suit will be displayed twice; e.g., two diamonds. In that case, the diamond player's score is doubled to count as the team score.

The Joker In a Joker's Wild Golf Tournament

Tournament organizers can use the joker card on any hole. And when the joker card is found, the team members get to use the lowest of their four scores.

If the joker is in the cup, then the low ball counts as the team score. If the next tee shows a heart and a joker, then the player designated as the heart has his score combined with the low-ball score. (If the heart player is the low ball, then his score would count twice in this example.)

Clearly, Joker's Wild requires an organized tournament committee to set up. The tournament organizers need to make sure the suits displayed around the course are a good mix, and that players get their heart/diamond/spade/club designations randomly and without knowledge of where those suits will appear around the golf course.

(Photo appears under CC3.0 Creative Commons license)

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