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The Golf Club Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Perhaps one day The Golf Club will live up to its potential, but not in its current form. Although I like the idea of a golf game with a never-ending supply of fresh courses, far too many holes were substandard and a few even broke the experience. There's also a depressing lack of single-player modes or character progression, which quickly led to me losing interest. On paper, The Golf game sounds great. Too bad the finished game is such a let down. Rating: 57%
The Golf Club
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
When it comes to golf, I have what you might call a love/hate relationship with the sport. I find watching it on TV to be about as exciting as getting my hand caught in a wood chipper, and I can think of a lot better things to do than pack a bunch of clubs around a golf course. Yet, despite these strong opinions, I find myself hopelessly addicted to the sport on video game consoles. From Lee Travino's Fighting Golf on the NES to whatever Electronic Arts is calling their Tiger Woods series these days, I'm always chasing that illusive hole-in-one.

On paper, The Golf Club sounds like a truly next-generation sports game. Instead of coming with a standard collection of diverse courses, this PlayStation 4 game relies more on its robust level creator and socially-minded sharing options. With a dedicated fan base, this is a game that could conceivably have unlimited content, an intriguing prospect for those of us sick of playing the same few courses ad infinitum. Unfortunately, The Golf Club hits a few stumbling blocks along the way and never quite delivers on what truly is a compelling idea.

The Golf Club (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

For those raised on years of console games, The Golf Club may be a bit jarring at first. This is not the personality-filled sports extravaganza some might be expecting, but rather a deadly serious simulation. Clearly this isn't trying to compete with Mario's Golf or Hot Shot Golf, but this makes the otherwise sterile Tiger Woods experience feel like a Pixar movie. Don't expect any stylish art or cool design flourishes, because The Golf Club is only interested in one thing -- a perfect round of golf.

While far from perfect, this PS4 game does come close to hitting the pin. Much like other modern golf sims, you use the right analog stick to control the strength and swing the club. Setting up each shot is easy thanks to the usual buttons and cursors that allow you to zip around the course and even view things from the sky. Although not especially original, the core gameplay is easy to get used to and deep enough for the hardcore golf junkie.

That said, there were many times when The Golf Club felt like a big step backwards. While the basic gameplay is certainly competent, it never felt as precise as the competition. That's not to say the Tiger Wood series is always spot on, but the developers have done a good job answering these problems by tacking on more ways control the ball. The Golf Club could have used some of the advances EA implemented over the years.

Competent but uninspired gameplay aside, there isn't a whole lot to do in The Golf Club. Don't expect the usual single-player mode that comes with most console sports games, because this is as barebones as it gets. Players are limited to three options -- to play a single round of golf, take on a longer tour or jump into a tournament. Sadly, all three of these options are plagued with problems that made it hard for me to fully embrace this golf outing.

The Golf Club (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

No matter which mode you choose, you'll be selecting from a bunch of user-created courses. All stages are designed using one of five presets, which include a pleasant rural setting, the mountainous alpine terrain, a colorful autumn location, a dry desert area and the oceanfront links. With this as the jumping off point, fans of managed to create some truly impressive courses.

Unfortunately, the amazing courses are something of a rarity. Even using the game's rating system, I have been paired up with far too many stinkers. Either the stages all look the same or they were created by people who have no right designing golf courses. It's one thing to create a few amazing holes, but it takes a lot of dedication to come up with a course of 18 consistently great designs. This may be one of those things that changes over time, but currently the selection process is hit or miss.

After spending some time in the Greg Norman Golf Course Design editor (yes, that's what it's called), it's easy to see why so many holes are substandard. Although deep, the editor isn't immediately user-friendly and takes some getting used to. With practice, making great courses is possible. How many people take the time to design these amazing stages is yet to be seen.

While most bad holes are nothing more than boring, there are a few that are truly heinous. Some creators like to load their courses up with every type of animal they can find, which brings the game to a grinding halt. Forget accurate swings, because a pack of rhinos on the fairway reduces the frame rate to single digits. Worse yet, exiting the course won't solve the problem, as the game uses your last location as the main menu background. It's the kind of thing that ruins the whole experience.

The Golf Club (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

In the tour mode, players get roped into playing through several courses in a row. The good news is that you'll be teamed up with other people ... kind of. While the social element of The Golf Club is strong, there isn't much traditional multiplayer action going on. You'll quickly realize that instead of being matched up with people in real time, the online modes have you going at it with ghosts of other golfers. You get to see their shot and compare scores while playing through the 18 holes. It leads to a cacophony of colored streaks flying through the sky, which is definitely cool the first few times. But instead of making me feel like part of a larger group, this effect made me realize that I was all alone.

Aside from a few hitches here and there, The Golf Club looks good on the PlayStation 4. It's not the graphic showpiece that we'll likely see from Electronic Arts, but a lot of the details are sharp. Sadly, the performance is marred by some pop-in graphics and screen tearing. And while not strictly a complaint about the graphics, I do wish there were more options in the character editor.

Without character progression or traditional online player-versus-player matches, I quickly lost interest in The Golf Club. I love the idea of a never-ending supply of fresh courses, but there weren't enough hooks to keep me going. What's more, I ended up playing more bad courses than good, which started to take a toll after a while. Couple all these problems with a high price tag and The Golf Club is a difficult game to recommend.
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