You may, at any time, deal a card from the stock to the top of the foundation pile. The only other cards that can be played are the top cards of the seven tableau stacks. The only place they can be played to is the single foundation pile. A tableau card can be played to the foundation if it is one higher or one lower than the top card of the foundation. Suits do not matter.
Traditionally you may not play any card on a King, and you can only play a Two on an Ace, but these rules are often relaxed. For the purposes of this note, I'll refer to the common variants as follows:
Game Cards Playable on Kings Cards Playable on Aces Golf-A None Twos Golf-B Queens Twos Golf-C Queens or Aces Twos or Kings
Politaire implements "Golf-B" under the name "Golf". You can read the rules or play the game. Politaire implements "Golf-C" under the name "Putt Putt". You can read the rules or play the game. The game is also available in many other solitaire programs.
Golf is sometimes scored as follows, with low scores being better:
This solver is a bit slower than some others I have built, so the numbers of runs in my experiments are lower.
The average number of cards removed is quite high. Even when the win rate is low, it is usually possible to remove most cards. If we'd been keeping score using the standard scoring method, then the positive part of the score would have averaged 2.6, 1.5 and 0.1 per game for the three variants. My solver didn't try to maximize the number of cards left on the stock (or even report that value) so I don't have any statistics on the negative part of the score.
Game Percent Won Average Cards Removed
(out of 35 tableau cards)
Golf-A 26.1% 32.4 Golf-B 45.1% 33.5 Golf-C 93.0% 34.9
Clearly the ability to play Queens on Kings, or to wrap between Ace and King makes a very substantial difference in the difficulty of the game.
The distribution of the number of tableau cards moved to the foundation is shown in the charts below. Removing all 35 cards on the tableau counts as a win.
No games were encountered where no cards could be removed from the tableau, though such games are certainly possible, and would probably show up in a larger sample. The most intractable game encountered, in which only one card could be removed in both Golf-A and Golf-B, was seed 98270. That deal is solvable under Golf-C rules however. Seed 79848 allows only 5 cards to be removed, no matter which variant you are playing.
Panther Creek is a four-deck version of Golf, played on a 12x12 tableau (but playing Queens on Kings is allowed). Lincoln Greens is the same game, but it allows wrapping between Ace and King. With 208 cards in play, these games are a bit out of reach of my dumb solver. It can win some games, but it gets lost in combinatorial explosion if the game is at all hard. Of the first hundred Panther Creek games, it could solve 42% of games, but since it couldn't prove any unsolvable, this is only a lower bound on the number of solvable games. It did a bit better with Lincoln Green, solving 97% of the first 1000 games.
The games Black Hole and All In A Row are very similar to Golf. I have a separate page studying about those.