I’ve always been fond of the sport of golf. I started playing it at a very young age and contrary to popular belief, it can be quite exciting. It’s one of the reasons why it is one of the most played sports on the planet. So it comes as no surprise that we’ve had the odd video game about it over the years, and the latest iteration comes in the form of The Golf Club 2019. It’s developed and published by HB Studios, who also managed to acquire the licensing right for the PGA Tour.
“Golf Simulator 2019”
One thing that should be noted straight off the bat is that The Golf Club 2019 is a simulator, and because of that it can be a little hard to get in to and score decent enough rounds. It does have a tutorial that tells you how the mechanics work, but getting used to it and mastering it can be a bit of a lesson in frustration. The control mechanisms are pretty straightforward, you line up the ball and hit by pulling the right analogue back and flicking it forward. Yeah, that is pretty much it. Okay, not quite, but you will be performing this action a lot while playing the game. It’s also not that easy to get right, and timing to will always remain a bit of a challenge. You do get a few more options since you can obviously select a different club, or even select a different shot type. The options are quite extensive since you have the ability to punch a ball underneath low hanging branches or lob it over an obstacle to land it softly on the green. Hitting the ball well and consistent all depends on your ability to keep your analogue in a straight as possible motion, and the harder the shot is that you’re trying to pull off, the harder it is to keep within the acceptable range, which narrows as the shot becomes harder.
The controls work fine, but I found the control that I have over the analogue stick to be very limited, and because of this, the game and my shots often felt like a roll of the dice. The difficulty spike between the Beginner and Pro setting are pretty severe, so trying to up your game really depends on how skilled you are at pushing the analogue down and up. There is no other control option such as a traditional two or three button system that we know in golf games, so you’re stuck with a mechanic that can be a bit off at times. It makes the game feel a bit dull since you can get by with the shorter distance from the tee on beginner, and still score decently enough to be competitive during the career mode.
The controls work fine, but I found the control that I have over the analogue stick to be very limited, and because of this, the game and my shots often felt like a roll of the dice.
It really looks pretty
Career mode is also not really something to write home about. You create a new character in the rather good character editor, and you’re off to compete and get yourself onto the PGA Tour. You play against a bunch of what seems like randomly generated golfers, which doesn’t really change as you progress through the tour. Even when you start playing in PGA, you don’t see any big names such as Duston Johnson, Jordan Spieth or Bubba Watson popping up, and this doesn’t help for the ‘simulation’ part of the game. I found it a tad boring, and with the someone hit or miss swinging mechanic, it becomes a dull and sometimes frustrating affair.
The Golf Club 2019 is a very good looking game. There are a staggering 27 official courses, and all of them look very nice. The shadows and lighting give greens a very believable feeling, especially as the day progress and the shadows become longer, or clouds roll in and make things look a bit murky. Sadly, there’s no real weather effects, so playing in the rain wasn’t an option, although it would have been great to see how the course conditions might change depending on the weather.
There are a staggering 27 official courses, and all of them look very nice. The shadows and lighting give greens a very believable feeling, especially as the day progress and the shadows become longer.
The only blight on the visuals of the game are the crowds, which not only look out of place but also sound a bit odd. I should also mention that the commentary is some of the worst that I’ve experienced in a sports game in a very long time with some person trying to sound like he’s commenting on events as they happen, but ultimately just annoyed the living daylights out of me. If it wasn’t for a mute option, I would’ve stopped playing a long time ago.
All the extras
Multiplayer is obviously a thing in The Golf Club 2019, and surprisingly, it was the mode I enjoyed the most. You have an option of creating or joining private matches, or just jumping into matchmaking, which surprisingly didn’t take too long. Playing with others is fun and somewhat exciting since you now have to really concentrate in order to win. I will admit though that I only played against one person during my multiplayer session, and I’m not sure how busy the game is when trying to play online. The only thing I would’ve liked while playing with other would’ve been the ability to communicate with them in some way because if someone hits a nice stroke, I would like to acknowledge it.
The Golf Club 2019 also comes with a course editor, which on the surface looks like it can work okay, but it feels very cumbersome with a controller. You get to set some parameters, and then have the game randomly generate a course for you. You can then go in and test the course and adjust it according to your liking. It felt a bit lacking in options since it would be cool to adjust the placement of a water features or bunkers easily, but I couldn’t figure it out in the 30 odd minutes I tried it out. I am convinced that we’ll get some true masterpieces out of it, but it will require a lot of patience and time to figure it out.
Maybe a couple of strokes over par
The Golf Club 2019 really isn’t a bad game, but it does lack in a few departments. The control scheme feels a bit limiting and repetitive, and some of the character and crowd visuals aren’t as good as one might have hoped. It still played very well, and once you get in the rhythm of things, you kind of get stuck in and keep playing. There’s a lot of space for improvement, and if HB Studios starts utilising the PGA license better, we might be in for a true treat a couple of years down the line.