Developer: HB Studios
Did I Pay For it: No.
You’ll also occasionally see graphical glitches, and to my chagrin, aiming a driver shot at a club house results in the ball sailing though like it’s a mirage or hologram, to the point where you could quite possibly end up swinging from inside of the hollowed out geography of a structure.
But those are small caveats as long as the on-the-course stuff feels right, and boy does it ever. Organic is a word that gets thrown around a lot for lots of games, and it fits here, too. Swinging, putting, slicing, lofting, all feel *right* after a touch of a learning curve. Right stick swings, left stick aims, hold a button to adjust loft and fade, one to change clubs, another to change shots, and a shot preview button that gives you a general idea of where the ball would land on a solid thwack.
Which is encouraging considering online tournaments and tours are a major component of The Golf Club’s package. If every tournament had a leaderboard of 16 or 17 under pars, not only would the game become something…broken, it’d prevent many players from any serious attempt at tackling (and winning) a tournament. Right now, high scores on courses range from the -6 to -9 under range, which is still inflated, but not outrageously so.
Part of this is due to the complete lack of golfer stats. There’s nothing worse than playing a game online, only to get schooled by folks who simply have more time to pour hours into the game and grind XP, to the point where they’re hitting 400 yard drives and sinking 50 foot putts with ease thanks to their 99 ovr golfer. Here, everyone is on an even playing field, permanently.
But yeah, about those bugs. For starters, if connected online and disconnected while playing Adhoc with a buddy as a ‘guest’ under your XBLA gamertag, and you’re kicked from the net and bounced back to the main menu, resuming that tournament eliminates your friend and makes it a one-man show. Additionally, the game hardlocked twice, and on one very special night, prevented the second player’s controller from registering any input at all. These are only an issue when playing couch co-op, and I would imagine patches, updates, and server tweaks will render several of these problems moot in the near future.
If you like Golf games at all, give this a shot. If you’re the kind of person who finds ‘real’ golf games boring, and finds Hot Shots Golf a little too silly, this could be the perfect game for you. It’s simulation of golf, but the stuff that gets in the way – namely the pretension the ‘majesty’, are happily gone in favor of pure golfing bliss. Is it the best golf game of all time? No. That honor goes to Kirby’s dream course or Lee Carvallo’s putting challenge. But it is the most refreshing game of links in quite some time. It’s intuitive and smart, and if you play it, and like a foursome with that a-hole who made you get up at 6am to get to the course early, there’s no going back to how it was.