There’s something immensely satisfying about the sound of your driver connecting with a golf ball and sending it hurtling down the fairway. Equally, I get an almost masochistic pleasure from the sound of my ball splashing into a lake or thudding into the rough.
No matter whether you’re an accomplished golfer or a newbie who doesn’t know your bogies from your eagles, HB Studios’ The Golf Club is certainly an enjoyable – and refreshing – example of the sport on the small screen.
"The lack of power gauges or swing-based timers make it particularly tricky to pull off a masterstroke, as it’s all left to your judgement as to how hard you hit a ball. But once you find that sweet spot, it all proves thoroughly entertaining."
Billed as a golf simulation, The Golf Club takes an altogether stance from the typical arcade games that dominate consoles. There’s no handholding, and little by way of instruction unless you visit the game’s website. There aren’t any power ups here, nor celebratory dances, character progression or Kinect gimmicks. This is a game that focusses on realism and skill. And there are plenty of stats and league tables to keep your eye on too – so you can see how you’re improving and compare with your rivals.
The lack of power gauges or swing-based timers make it particularly tricky to pull off a masterstroke, as it’s all left to your judgement as to how hard you hit a ball. But once you find that sweet spot, it all proves thoroughly entertaining.
There are several game modes on offer: stroke play, match play, 4-ball, as well as tours and tournaments. You can play the various game modes either alone, with friends locally or online. Onscreen, there’s a heap of information available, from the distance to the hole, club selection, scorecard, number of strokes, and so on.
Prior to each shot, a quick button press provides a bird’s eye view of the course and highlights distances, hazards and how your competitors are doing. You’re also able to tweak settings to affect the flight of the ball, adjusting its loft etc.
Once happy with your positioning, simply pulling back on the right stick and then pushing forward in a swift movement sends the ball soaring into the air. Then you just have to wait with baited breath to see if you’ve overhit the thing or struck it like a pro. Rivals’ ghost balls fly through the air as you play your shots, giving you an idea of how they have approached the hole.
"The game looks pretty good, with decent water effects, lush greens, plenty of trees and nicely animated character models. Close up, the graphics can look a little rough in places though, with some dodgy textures."
Once you’re done with the preloaded courses, you can take on the powerful Greg Norman course designer option. It’s pretty intuitive and within seconds you’re able to create an all-new layout and challenge, which offers unlimited replayability. Or you could just try your hand at the user-generated offerings that have been shared. This is a game all about community and already boasts a glut of user-generated content – but in time, there will be an unfathomable number of courses on offer to keep you busy.
Creating your very own masterpiece is as complicated or as simple as you want to make it, with everything customisable from the number of sand traps and trees to gradients, the position of the clubhouse or whether you want a smattering of decorative golf carts dotted about the place.
Among the biggest selling points is perhaps the lack of loading times between holes. On the face of it, this may not seem revolutionary but there are no jarring delays when you make your way around a course.
The game looks pretty good, with decent water effects, lush greens, plenty of trees and nicely animated character models. Close up, the graphics can look a little rough in places though, with some dodgy textures. The sound effects are minimal – in a good way – restricted to ambient sounds and your caddy commenting on your progress. Fortunately, he seems an amiable chap and isn’t too irritating, often offering good advice.
The Golf Club is good fun and well worth a play; it’s easy to get into but tricky to master. But that’s not to say this is only for the hardcore fans who know their driver from their putter – this will appeal to novices to the sport too.
This game was reviewed on Xbox One.
Looks and sounds good and is a good rendition of the sport. Plenty of stats and leaderboards encourage repeat play.
Very little handholding and requires plenty of practice to get within touching distance of decent players. Easy to throw away a round with one poor shot – perhaps too much like real life!