Golf and poker are not two sports that you often associate with each other, but the lead-in to this year’s Ryder Cup ensured they were.
US captain, Steve Stricker, refused to show his hand in the run up to the showcase golf event. That prompted media outlets to comment on how he kept his poker face on. A poker face is a term from the card game referring to where a player does not give the quality of his hand away to the other player with any small gestures.
Several players were seen practicing together on the course, but Steve Stricker kept his hand hidden when speaking to the press about the session. “That’s your job in the media is to make a story out of it,” said Harrington. “I’m not going to say what it means or what it doesn’t mean. I do have ideas about what should be happening in practice, but it’s for you to figure it out, not me to tell you.”
Just like a poker hand, Stricker was keeping his cards hidden. Could he pull out a pair of Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, whose rather public feud is common knowledge, or did he have another ace up his sleeve? Whatever picks he made, the Ryder Cup is likely to get golfers out on the greens this Fall, enjoying a leisurely game as it ramps up on television. If you do, maybe you can be like Stricker and throw in a poker element, too?
Here’s the thing with golf; there’s a winner and a lot of losers, and maybe you and your group wish to add another layer to your game, creating a bit more intrigue and another winner or two. You can do this by playing Golf Poker, just like Stricker, but in a more literal sense. If the Ryder Cup reignite your passion for golf, and you like to play a hand of poker too, then you can combine the two with ease.
It works like this: each hole results in a score; it might be a hole-in-one (if you’re lucky), it might be a five or a six. All you need to do is treat each of those scores as if it were a card in a poker hand. If you hit a birdie on a par three, you score a two, meaning your first card is a two. If the next hole is a par five, and you go two over, you score seven; your next card is a seven.
Over the course of nine holes, that builds up to a selection of nine cards. Now, by applying your knowledge in poker hand rankings, make the best five-card poker hand you can from those nine cards. You might have a straight (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) which would score well, or a full house (3, 3, 4, 4, 4). The latter would be the better round of golf, scoring you 18; the former could be the better poker hand, despite being two shots more on your card. A straight flush beats a full house, but a simple straight does not.
You can even play two hands, one on the front nine, one on the back, and have a little side wager; perhaps the winner of both hands has their first two rounds at the 19th hole purchased for them. Whatever you decide, you can bring a bit of poker into your golf, directly inspired by Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker.