While the Sega Master System was largely a failure that was absolutely crushed by the NES in the United States, it saw a lot more success in Europe where games kept getting released for it well into the 90s. As a result, while Americans had to make do with Great Golf (which is certainly a hell of a lot better than the rest of the "Great" sports line), Europe got to have Golfamania which blew Great Golf out of the water.
The Sega Master System was the most powerful 8-bit console ever released, and Golfamania showed that when put alongside Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf. The views down the fairway are stunning with lots of color and plenty of detail. Also the interface is much slicker, eliminating the screen clutter that Fighting Golf had. While Golfamania doesn't have the varied camera angles that Fighting Golf had, the views it does have are slick and show the action perfectly.
The same cannot be said for the sound. The sound effects are fine, but I got thoroughly sick of the one song that played throughout the game. Since the song can't be turned off, I ended up having to mute the TV.
Golfamania plays extremely well. Even though the Master System controller had only two buttons, that didn't hinder the game at all. I never had any trouble seeing along the course, aiming my shots, or setting the draw or fade for the shot. The only real problem is that the swing meter moves too fast. With the small impact zone on the meter, scoring perfect drives can be maddening ... early on.
The big innovation to Golfamania is the ability to create a custom player. Sure, you're limited to a few stock character models, but you get to build up your character's abilities while playing. Scoring par or better on a hole (as well as completing bonus challenges that randomly pop up) net you experience points which can be used to rank up your power, accuracy, and control, and the effects are very noticeable. Adding just one point to accuracy nearly doubled the size of the impact zone on the swing meter, making scoring perfect drives much easier. The game even auto-saves after each shot!
All of this adds up to a game that could've easily earned an A were it not for one giant problem. There is only one course in the whole game. While improving performance on a course is a goal for any golfer, not being able to play on additional courses hurts the long-term playability of the game. As much as I love golf games, I would get thoroughly sick of playing the same course over and over.
Golfamania is probably the best traditional golf game of the third-generation of consoles. It looks great even today, plays well, and gives lots of incentive to improve. If it only had just another course or two, it would have easily scored a hole-in-one on this tour.