game sheet with title

Shot&Spin Review

For most of my life, I’ve had a fascination with golf. Okay, not like, real golf. That I’ve only played once. But pretty much every other form of golf I’ve done, and many times. I’m a huge fan of putt putt, even though I’m terrible. I even watch golf on TV from time to time – yes, even without napping!

But it’s really golf video games that I love. I’ve sunk more hours into the Mario Golf series than I would care to admit. I played Outlaw Golf all the time with my college friends. I’ve loaded up the PGA games occasionally, but those are more realistic and therefore more boring and no thank you I prefer to make the ball catch on fire when I hit it really hard thank you very much.

So if I’m playing a golf board game, it’s the feel of a video game that I really want replicated. I enjoyed Mars Open and still break it out from time to time at family gatherings. But it feels more like paper football than golf. So when I first saw Shot&Spin, I was intrigued. A print and play, and you’re moving around the playsheet with your shots? Sounds kinda basic, but it’s how you play the game that’s all the fun.

Tee Off

The game is played over a series of holes, each of which is printed out on a sheet of paper. The game works as you might expect – you start at the tee, taking shots until you get to the hole. In general, the fewer strokes you take, the better your performance.

a completed scoresheet

But how do you move the ball? Well, it’s pretty awesome, really. But first, you’ll need to grab a little paper clip and a ruler. Oh, and a stopwatch (or just a timer app on your phone). Yeah, I don’t think I’ve had to say that about a board game before.

First, you’ll need to guess about how many centimeters you’ll want your shot to go and pick a club that matches that value. You might have to get creative in that department, as you can only use each club once on each hole.

Once you’ve picked your club, it’s time to set up your stopwatch. Your selected club is going to be the target amount of time you’re going for. You’ll press start, then look away from the timer and try to stop the clock as close to your target as possible without going over. 

If you get it within half a second, congrats! Your time is how many centimeters you hit it, rounded to tenths of a second. You’ll grab your ruler, measure the distance of your shot, and mark where you land.

Hook and a Slice

If you were further off, though, your hit isn’t going to go quite where you would like. If you stop the clock much too quickly, you’ll mark where you’re aiming, then have to spin a paperclip on the tip of your pencil to find your final landing spot. Usually this forces you to be a little off from what you were hoping for, but occasionally you might get lucky and end up in an even better position.

paper clip spin

If you go over the time… well, that’s just the worst. You’ll end up only going half the distance that you were hoping for, sometimes leaving you completely out of position and throwing you off for the next hit or two. Not to mention that you’ll incur a huge point penalty. These penalties are usually just the difference between the time you were aiming for and what you actually got, but in this case, it’s equal to the distance you hit the ball. So yeah… you don’t want to go over.

You’ll hit the ball until you land on the green, and then there’s some fun mechanics with the way putting works as you try to get into the hole. Once you’ve done that, you’ll add up the points for your penalties, as well as points for each stroke, all to determine your final score for the hole. 

Nice On!

It’s tough to get across how cool these mechanics are in an article. I certainly didn’t foresee the joy they would bring me when I first read the rules.

When I first sat down to play this game, I felt like I was killing it. I’d lay out my ruler, figure out a great place to go and what club to use, start my clock and watch for a second, then stop it  when I needed to almost every time. I was the Lord of the Links. I didn’t really feel like it was much of a challenge.

clubs and penalties

Then I read the rules again. I wasn’t supposed to be measuring out my shots ahead of time – I was supposed to be guessing which club that I should be using. I also stopped “checking on my timer” and looked away immediately when I started the clock. Turns out, not having that first second really threw off my counting. I was doing much worse, and my shots ended up all over the place.

Out of Bounds

Another factor that may have led to my poor play was the increasing challenge of the courses. There are six included in the game that I have, and each one looks like the dreamscape of an overly ambitious landscape architecture student. There are ponds and sand traps everywhere, but more concerning are the trees. 

You can’t go through trees. Shocker, huh? This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but this is literally a game of centimeters. If you haven’t picked the right club, you can end up hitting the ball too far and go into a tree, which immediately stops your movement. If you go over your time and only get half your distance, you might put yourself behind a small forest, forcing you to take several additional strokes to get around.

I really like what’s here, but I do wish there were more holes. I definitely plan on playing the game several more times in the future, but I feel like some of the challenge and fun will wear off as soon as I start to learn what clubs to use where on each hole. It probably wouldn’t be that hard to make your own holes to navigate, but you would certainly lose a little bit of polish in that scenario.

Back at the Clubhouse

After playing through the game solo a few times, I’ve come away really impressed. The stopwatch mechanic is something I’ve never really seen before in a game, and it provides a fascinating mixture of strategy, luck, and perseverance that makes this game more fun than you would expect. You’ll want to be as close to your target time as possible so that you minimize your penalties, but it’s such a big problem when you go over the target that you’ll want to avoid that at all costs. On a few hits, I started to question my basic intelligence as I felt like I couldn’t even count seconds properly. Yeah, this game can get in your head.

the golf ball path

I’m very interested to try this game out with other people. The game really caters to a solo experience, so I don’t know how much fun it would be to all have your own sheets and be playing. It would probably be better to all play each hole on the same sheet, like you’re in a golfing group together. Then you’ll get to have some fun celebrating good shots and teasing each other for really bad ones. I think it could be even better if you were to play in pairs, alternating shots back and forth. And hey, you’ll save on paper that way!

A final issue with this game is the challenge of accessing it. I reached out to the designer, and he currently only plans to make it available in his Kickstarter campaigns. Fortunately, those have come along every few months. Hopefully in the future, he’ll be able to set up a more permanent spot for people to access this game, because it’s a good one, and more and more people need to be playing it!

You can get your copy of Shot&Spin during the campaign for Reservoir Cubes, kicking off June 11, 2024.

Highs

  • unique mechanics I haven’t seen anywhere else in board gaming
  • a fun balance of risk / reward
  • well-designed courses…

Lows

  • … I just wish there were more of them
  • might not naturally play well with multiple people – you’ll need to make your own fun
  • you can only get it in a KS campaign

Ric White

I teach math for a living and enjoy time with my super awesome wife, awesome kids and almost as awesome dog. I like card and board games, and I truly enjoy learning and experiencing new games whenever I can.

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