Fairway is another smashing combination of solitaire and golf

I’ve never played the first Fairway Solitaire game, though I’ve heard it was quite popular. As such, I can’t offer an opinion on how one compares to the other. But I can say this: If the first game is anywhere near as good as Fairway is, well, I might just have to go back and check it out. Fairway is, well, it’s excellent.

If you’ve never played one of these solitaire games before, don’t worry – they’re extremely easy to get into. You’ll try to clear all the cards on the board by playing ones that are either one above or one below the top card on your discard pile. So for example if there’s a 8 there, then you can click and clear a 7 or 9. You can then string more along matching the next one that’s up top. Suits and colors don’t matter. When you get stuck, you can take a card off the draw pile to get things moving again. The goal is to try to clear the board or get as close as you can before you run out of moves.

This whole card game is wrapped around a theme of playing golf, and it infects every corner of the game (in a good way, unless you dislike golf). Undo is referred to as a “mulligan,” and all the graphics and sounds give you the impression of being on the links. Even the boards are called “courses” and there’s a ton of them, over 60 in all when varying numbers of different “hands” in there. It’s a lot of content.

The really nice thing about Fairway is how well the golf theme fits into the game. It gives a sort of purpose and meaning to the bonuses and obstacles you run into while playing the solitaire game. Granted, it’s still a theme attached to solitaire, so it’s not an air tight story or anything, but it serves to get it some sense.

My favorite thing about the golf theme is that it gives you a reason to not need to completely clear every board. Typical solitaire games come down to luck at the last few cards, and failing to clear them means usually means having to start over, which is a huge bummer. In Fairway, similar to a golf score you have a “par” you need to match, with the par number being the number of cards left when you’re out of moves. Par 3 means leaving 3 cards on the screen, and scoring under that nets you a bonus, while going over is bad news.

But even messing up one layout doesn’t mean anything detrimental, because each level is laid out like a whole golf course, and each level is just one hole. Different courses have a different number of holes, and you need to finish each course under par to move on. So bogeying hole #1 is fine as long as you make up that number elsewhere on the course. It’s fantastic in that one bad round doesn’t ruin anything in the long run (unless you get yourself into a +5 hole or something).

There are other golf tie ins as well. Cards that need to be cleared twice or unlocked don’t have chains or padlocks but are represented by water hazards or in the rough. You can also unlock wild cards or special number cards that become clubs in your bag, so you can click the “5 Iron,” for example, and the card on the top of your deck becomes a 5. The whole thing is also narrated and commentated on, though much of it might go over your head if you aren’t an avid golf enthusiast.

I’m no big golf fan, but I am a fan of solitaire games. I am typically pushed away when I fail a level over and over with 1 or 2 cards left, so Fairway was a very nice change of pace in that department, along with the charming golf theme. It’s a slick production with a ton of content in it. While Fairway does shuffle the conventions of the genre around a bit, it doesn’t really introduce anything new. But when you do this good a job at the standards, there’s little room to complain.