The Game of Wolf is a fun game of strategy and partnerships while playing a round of golf.
History: The Weekday Wolves Golf Club was formed in 2003 by a group of friends who enjoyed a game called "wolf". We are unsure where the game originated (see the Notes area below), but we have played this game under varying conditions and built up an understanding of rules and manner in which to play. Unlike the USGA and R&A defining the rules of golf, there is no governing body, but we consider these the "official" rules of playing the game.
Conditions: The game can be played with 2, 3, 4, or 5 players (normally 4). When the number of players exceeds 5, more than one game can be created with each game having a minimum of 3 players. (3+3, 4+3, 4+4, 3+3+3, etc). The game can be played over 9 holes or 18 holes. The game is played using handicaps and under rules of golf for stroke-play.
Pre-game: A Marker is chosen to keep score. A Course Handicap for each player must be established and the Marker note strokes per hole for each player (either gross or net). An order of play (the lineup) must be established (for example: spin a tee, order of arrival at the course, etc).
Goal: The goal is to accumulate points. Points are awarded on each hole to a player or a partnership that has the outright lowest individual net score for the hole (best ball). The player with the most points at the end of either 9 or 18 holes is the winner.
How to Play (4 players):
Player 1 in the lineup makes a stroke from the tee on the first hole. The first person to play on each hole is known as "the wolf". Player 2 then makes their first stroke. At this point Player 1 must make a decision of either choosing Player 2 as a partner or not (sometimes called Pick or Pass). The decision must be made before Player 3 makes their first stroke as Player 1 can then not go back and choose Player 2. If Player 2 has been passed over, Player 3 must be chosen similarly before Player 4 makes their first stroke. If Player 3 has been passed over, Player 4 must be chosen before all the players leave the tee box vicinity. If Player 1 has chosen a partner, they will play as a partnership against the other two players. If Player 1 has not chosen a partner, Player 1 is a "lone wolf" against the other three players.
The outright lowest net stroke score on a hole wins points for that player and their partners if any. There are no points awarded in case of a tie, and no carryover to the next hole. If the play is two versus two: the winning partnership is awarded 1 point to each player. If the play is one versus three: a winning partnership is awarded 1 point to each player, or the winning lone wolf individual is awarded 3 points.
On the second hole, the order of play remains the same, however Player 2 becomes the first to tee off as the wolf and have opportunity to choose a partner from Player 3, 4, and 1, or be a lone wolf. This process of keeping the lineup while rotating the first starting player honors continues until all have had two opportunities at the wolf position (through the 8th hole) The player with the lowest number of points after the 8th hole is given honors and made the wolf for the 9th hole (still keep the lineup order). If there is a tie for lowest number of points, a random choice for the wolf is made (eg: spin a tee). If the game ends at 9 holes, the player with the most points is the winner. If playing for 18 holes, the rotation and lineup continues through the 17th hole and a similar process of choosing the wolf player for the 18th hole is made based on the lowest number of points through the 17th hole.
How to Play (3 players):
Same as above except for awarding of points, and choosing a wolf on the 9th or 18th holes. Each hole will always result in one player versus two players. The winning partnership is awarded 1 point to each player, or the winning individual is awarded 2 points. In playing 9 or 18 holes, every player has an equal opportunity at wolf position and a choice (or decline) of partnership. Therefore, there are no special rules for choosing the wolf on the 9th or 18th hole.
How to Play (2 players):
Since there is no ability to choose a partner, the game is virtually the same as match play with one point available on each hole to win. Keep in mind that you remain under the rules of golf for stroke-play.
How to Play (5 players together):
If the course will allow you to have five players in a group, everything is the same as for a four player group except for awarding of points and choosing a wolf on the 9th or 18th holes. If a partner is chosen by the wolf, it is two players versus three players. If the wolf decides to go as lone wolf, it is one player versus four players. A winning two-player partnership is awarded 1.5 points to each player. A winning three-player partnership is awarded 1 point to each player. A winning lone wolf is awarded 4 points. If a lone wolf loses, 1 point is awarded to each of the opposing four players. The lineup order with rotation of the starting player honors continues unaltered through 9 or 18 holes.
How to Play (5 players grouped as 2 and 3):
If the course does not allow you to have five players in a group and you must split into groups of two and three, you can of course play as previously mentioned for two or three players separately, or you can play blind wolf. Everything is the same as if five players were together except a card is marked for the lineup of all five players before play begins with pre-declarations from the wolf player at each hole for a choice of the partner or lone wolf. Actual play can continue in any manner of order or rotation, but after play ends all the scores are entered and the outcome of blind choices are known.
If there is a very good player, be careful not to have every other player always choose them as a safety or insurance partner. Frequent choice of such a player can result in them accumulating so many points that no individual could catch them. However, if you are in the lead with that person, choosing them as a partner can keep them so close to you that they can't "draw their sword" and be you enemy.
Watch the point total when coming toward the latter holes of your competition. Being in last place coming into the 9th or 18th can give an opportunity to lone wolf and lunge into first place. This requires examination as early as the 7th or 16th hole and preparing your strategy for alliance to be just close enough to last and not too far ahead.
Keep an eye on the strokes each player is getting. A player on a par-3 that is getting 2 strokes requires evaluation of choice. A lone wolf achieving a net birdie can be snuffed out by a player with a score of par/net 1
Keep an eye on how everyone is performing. When a group has a very good player, good tee shots by others may be passed up with the hope of having the star perform as your partner. If the good player is having an off day, re-evaluate since the handicaps will come into play.
Have fun with the concept. A partnership might be called a den of wolves, someone out in front can be called the leader of the pack. Try and talk another player into choosing a partner that might benefit you. Play up the building up of alliances, or abandonment of them. Enjoy.
This game is mentioned in "Chi Chi's Golf Games You Gotta Play" by Chi Chi Rodriguez and John Anderson. Copyright 2003 by Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. that is varies by allowing a doubling of points if the wolf declares "lone wolf" before his initial drive.
The game is also known as "Ship, Captain and Crew", "Pig", and "Captain". Similar rules, different terms: If the "Captain" passes on all players he is "hogging" the hole.
A variation on this game (mentioned by the New Chicago Golf Club in 2002) allows a player picked as partner to reject the "Wolf's" bid and take over as "Wolf" for double the points, but this voids some strategic capabilities of the basic game and is usually invoked by those playing for money.
Mentioned in "Games Golfers Play" from 1998