Let me be frank – my primary associations with golf are Tiger Woods, the American medical profession, and horribly funny clothes. Cashmere cardigans I can live with, but who on Earth decided plaid pants are posh? Never mind the question. Golf is growing in popularity, and it’s no surprise that a golf themed solitaire game has finally cropped up.
As Fairway Solitaire opens, you start off as a duffer at the Golf Academy. Your goal – fill up your mantle place with trophies, and ultimately golf your way to Grand Champion.
Playing is easy. Click on cards which are one number higher or lower than the foundation card at the bottom of the screen. Suites don’t matter. If there are no cards that apply, click on the draw pile to deal a new card. The “hole” is over when you have used up the draw pile. The cards which remain in the layout determine your score for that hole. So, for example, if you have 5 cards left, your score for that hole would be 5. A perfect score is achieved by clearing all of the cards. If you make a mistake, you can click the “Mulligan” button to undo it – but use those carefully, since you only start with one per hole.
At the end of each hole, you are taken to a scoreboard to review your stats. Aside from the score, you will also see the par. In golf, a par is a predetermined number of strokes that a golfer should require to complete a hole. In the game, your number of strokes is determined by subtracting your hole score from the par. If you finish under par, you are given a cash bonus.
You are also shown how long you played, and your long drive multiplier. In the game, “long drive runs” occur whenever you play six or more cards in a row. The more cards you play, the longer the run, and the higher the multiplier. The money you earn on the hole is multiplied by this long drive multiplier.
There are several surprises included along the way, like wild shots and water and sand traps. To pass the sand traps, you must first free the “wedge” card, which is hidden in the layout. This will allow you to play the sand trap cards. Water traps can be passed by completely clearing the adjacent pile, allowing you to access the soggy cards themselves.
Wild shots are tricky! You can play them or drop them, but dropping them comes with a penalty. If you play them, you get a randomly selected good or bad event. You may be asked to compete in a putting contest, which involves clicking at the precise moment to line up an arrow and hit the ball into the hole. Or, your ball might go out of bounds, causing you to lose two stock cards. You might hit the cart path, increasing your long drive multiplier by .2, or your ball might even be grabbed by a bird! Good events can increase your multiplier or cash, which bad events (like, oh, hitting a lawyer in the head with your ball) will cause you to lose cards or money.
What do you do with all the cash you are earning? Well, you use it in the golf shop to buy clothing and accessories that improve your game: For example, a $20,000 skirt that slows down the arrow in the long drive contests, or a $5,000 blouse that gives you an extra Mulligan on each hole. Yikes, with prices like those, no wonder golf is sometimes considered a rich man’s game!
The in-game tutorial is spoon fed to the player at the end of each hole. You mostly learn as you go, which is an enjoyable way to learn anyway. The sound effects and music are good, with realistic voice over commentaries. The backgrounds, while mostly static and cartoonish, are cute and pleasant.
I really enjoyed all the new twists that Fairway Solitaire offers. The application of the golf theme is clever, with the use of multipliers and long drive runs and par scores to determine your totals. The bonus clothes are a lot of fun to experiment with, if you can afford them.
It would have been even more fun to have more mini games and solitaire types available, like Freecell or Spider. After two hours you’ve pretty much seen everything that this game has to offer. It would also have been nice to see how many cards are left in the deck as you play, so that you could better plan your strategy. It sometimes feels like the end of the hole sneaks up on you.
On the whole, er, hole, Fairway Solitaire offers a unique golfing theme applied to a very simple solitaire card game. It gets kudos for originality. Golfing fans will have a few chuckles, and even non-golfers will enjoy the new twist on an old classic.