Let's not beat around the bush here; the 32X add-on for the Genesis was crap. It may have been marketed as a cheap way to play 32-bit games, but all it provided was an electrical fire hazard. However, the worst thing about it was its game library. Only 40 games were made for it, and most of them were just ports of Genesis games with bolder color pallets and a couple extra effects. That said, if you had already been suckered into buying the 32x, there are at least a couple of games worth playing, and one of them happens to be a golf game.
36 Great Holes has the benefit of endorsements by Golf Magazine and Fred Couples, the PGA pro I had already talked about when I reviewed his Game Gear game. It also has the thumbs up from a lot of club owners. The eponymous "36 great holes" come from 27 real-life clubs from all over the world! Granted, on the surface, 36 holes only equate to two courses; however, those holes were mixed and matched to provide four courses out of the gate. Not only that, but you can also play a random pick of 18 holes or create your own course. If you wanted to create an 18-hole course with no repeat holes, you have billions of possible combinations!
Of course, all those benefits would be pointless if the game didn't play well, and this one does. The three-click double swing gauge works well while being a bit more lenient than other games I'd covered. A pop-up of the landing view is definitely welcome. The putting grid is easy to read, and the caddie recommendations are often good. The only real issue with the interface is the overhead map. While it's nice that one is onscreen at all times, it never shows you where you are on any given stroke. Why not? Would putting a blinking dot on the map really have been that difficult?
The aesthetics are very hit-and-miss. While you can tell by the slopes of the holes that this was a game the Genesis couldn't do on its own, you also can't ignore the overall muddy textures. Most of the time, I couldn't tell if my ball was landing on the fairway or in the rough. While the swing animation is remarkably smooth (almost video quality), the characters lack a lot of detail. The sound effects and ambiance are quite pleasant. However, the music is too synth-sounding (even for the Genesis), and Fred Couples' commentary repeats phrases often enough to get annoying before you even reach the back 9.
36 Great Holes is a good golf game. No, it couldn't have saved the 32X from becoming a punchline, but it did provide a glimpse of what 32 bits can do for golf games. If you have a 32X that you just can't get rid of, give this game a chance. It scores an even par.