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The Golf Club 2019 featuring PGA TOUR Review

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Better Than a Good Day at Work

The Golf Club featuring PGA Tour 2019 (The Golf Club 2019), developed by Canadian HB Studios and published by 2K, is the third game in the series. While it’s the first of the series to bear the PGA Tour license, Golf Club 2019 will be familiar to anyone that has played the previous titles. I myself haven’t played a golf game since the old PGA Tour games back in the Xbox era, but the consistent control scheme between them had me hitting my groove much faster than I probably otherwise would have.

A Game of Inches

Golf is not a forgiving game. A friend of mine in high school once quoted to me that golf was a game about getting a small ball into a small hole with tools that are insufficient for the job. While I don’t know to whom exactly that quote is attributed, in my search to use it for this review it should come as no surprise that there are just as many more quotes about how hard golf is. So too is The Golf Club 2019 unforgiving. There are no RPG mechanics here; you start out as strong and as capable as you will be throughout the entire game. The only improvement there will be is your own capability at the game.

As such, The Golf Club 2019 plays more like a puzzle game than a sports game. Each course can be best approached with a certain combination of shots and clubs, and with enough skill, birdies are always on the table. Occasionally, you’ll come across a par 5 that you can eagle. These victories will be hard-won, however, as every shot builds upon the next. An errant shot into the deep rough could easily see you putting for a double bogey more often than you’d like. Putting itself is difficult as well. The only help you have are the lines on the green telling you its slope and a handful of practice putts that have to last you all eighteen holes. However, once you’ve navigated enough bunkers, lakes, and out-of-bounds areas, you’ll be ready for the PGA Tour proper.

Nature Walk

The links you’ll be playing across are rendered in loving detail. Each has its own theming and color scheme, own difficulty curve, and certain individual elements, like Scottsdale’s hole 17 amphitheater. The focus, though, is mostly on your character. As you progress through the game’s career mode, you will unlock cosmetics and in-game currency that can be used to unlock other cosmetics. All of these would feel at home on a real-life golf course. While you can alter your character’s face to a horrible monstrosity, their clothing will look respectable.

The sound design is decidedly on par. While there are other ways to receive feedback in your swings, each club and hit has its own sound. A clean, powerful drive will reward you with a solid, satisfying whack, whereas a sloppier shot will give you a sloppier sound. John McCarthy returns as the main commentator this time around, remarking on your play with a near-ASMR-style stage whisper. Usually, his predictions about where your ball will end up are spot on, but occasionally a stray bounce will lead him astray. Depending on the course, McCarthy will be joined by a particular co-commentator. These co-commentators will usually only proffer a line or two before McCarthy dismisses them.

A Friendly Round

The Golf Club 2019 offers multiple different ways to play with your friends. Players can create societies, which are groups of players that can schedule events to play together. There are also a variety of pick-up modes from quick play to hosted matches of multiple different game types. These match types include various team modes, such as alternating who is taking what stroke, taking the total score of each team’s strokes, or wagering virtual currency on who can play the best round.

On top of that, players can also design and share their own custom courses. You can choose from any of the visual themes of any other course, set a few parameters like hilliness, green difficulty, water level, and vegetation density, and the game will automatically generate eighteen holes to your specifications. You can then go in with a variety of different tools to deform the terrain, add water features, and place environmental features. These tools, while robust, are a bit obtuse at first. When I tried to create my own course (a bayside escape under the view of a towering mountain) I found trying to connect the water features within my course to the main body of water on the edge to be daunting. I didn’t realize that the way to get more water on the course was not to use the “Add Water Feature” tool, but rather lowering the ground level down. Much like the rest of the game, the course creator will take some getting used to but will prove powerful to those that take the time to learn it.

7

The Verdict: Great

As unforgiving as its real-life counterpart, The Golf Club featuring PGA Tour 2019 will be sure to frustrate more casual players. Those that take the time to learn the mechanics and acclimate to its demands will find a reward: an imminently replayable golfing experience with a broad variety of game modes.

John Gerritzen
Written by
December 03, 2018
Published in Sport

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John Gerritzen is a programmer by education, author by hobby, and game critic by occupation. While he usually favors RPGs, he will play anything that engages him narratively or mechanically. When he's not playing games for fun or profit, he's usually reading or watching anime.

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