The Golf Club 2 – Review
PC, PS4, Xbox One
There has pretty much always been two types of golf games. The first type is the fun, over-the-top style like Mario Golf or Everybody’s Golf. The second style is the game that tries to simulate what it feels like to be a top PGA professional. Games like Rory McIllroy PGA Tour focus on putting players in the shoes of elite golfers and let them take on the world. But golf, for 98% of the people that play it in the real world, is about a player bettering themselves. Players aren’t competing with others as much as they are competing with themselves. Despite being quite a social game, it is a very personal one at the same time because the drive is always there to improve, to grow as a player. There has never really been a game to capture that personal focus, that feeling of the Player versus the game of golf itself. That is until now. Welcome to The Golf Club 2.
The original Golf Club game came out a few years ago on PC and, after a little bit of dev time, on consoles. It had a lot of great ideas, including a fantastic course editor, but it felt very rough around the edges and it was quite off-putting for all but the hardest of hardcore golf fans. Never the less, there was a lot of potential there and I am more than pleased to say that The Golf Club 2 takes that promising foundation and creates a wonderful sporting simulation around it.
The real draw for TGC2 is the core gameplay. Swinging the club is achieved with the traditional analogue swing method that has been around since the first Tiger Woods games but unlike the EA releases, there were no fancy meters or guides to point out where the ball will go or how hard I needed to swing. There were no shortcuts to glory, I had to learn how hard to swing, how to read the slopes and how to adjust for the wind. The punishment for failing to do so, just like in real golf, was quite severe. I have never played a sport game that has replicated my own personal real life experience like TGC2 does. It captures the frustration, anger, tension and elation of the sport wonderfully. My missed timed drive that ended up in rough made me swear in the same way my perfect chip shot made me cheer, all because it was my skill (or lack thereof) that caused the result. I couldn’t blame the game, I couldn’t blame the AI, I wore all the responsibility of my success or failure.
As TGC2 lacks any official licences I didn’t get to play on any official courses, but thanks to the included course creator I sure did play on a lot of courses that seem very familiar to real-life locations. The course creator is a wonderfully powerful tool that is wasted on an uncreative sod like myself. That being said, even I found it relatively easy to knock out 18 holes with a little tinkering. Where I did benefit from the course creator was the availability of (at the time of typing) over 11000 courses that I could play on. Some of these courses are just spectacular and it is clear that the first game had a vibrant community that cared about creating quality courses. I will give a word of warning though, if you are interested in the course creation side of things I suggest you get the PC version because the console controller is a little fiddly for the fine movement that the creator sometimes requires.
The structure of the game is a little barebones but not necessarily in a bad way. There aren’t all the options that the bigger brand sports games give, only single round, multiplayer and season play. Season play is where I spent most of my time and it is here I earned money that could be used to buy new clothes, clubs or clubhouses. Seasons consisted of multiple events on multiple courses and I could use preset seasons or easily build my own. I was competing against AI golfers but that really felt secondary to simply improving while playing the game. I cannot stress enough how different and satisfying this makes the entire experience.
The weakest part of the game is its presentation. Clearly, TGC2 wasn’t built with the same sort of money that the PGA Tour games have access to and it shows. The graphics aren’t terrible but at the same time, there is nothing stunning about them at all. The commentary is serviceable at best and the sound effects are solid if uninspiring. With all that being said there is nothing in the presentation that should put off potential players, it certainly didn’t put me off. It is just something worth noting so you don’t go in expecting EA Sports levels of graphics and commentary.
The Golf Club 2 is a wonderful representation of one of the most frustrating, yet satisfying sports on the planet. It captures the feeling of personal achievement that comes with improvement like no other golf game has. It is brutally unforgiving yet immensely gratifying at the same time, forcing players to improve with nothing but the desire to get better. There may be some rough edges in the presentation aspects of the game but these do nothing to detract from its excellent gameplay. This is golf game for the everyday golfer, the person that just plays for fun and for personal betterment. If you want to feel like Tiger Woods or Adam Scott, scoring 9 under on a world famous golf course then this isn’t the game for you. If, however, you enjoy the challenge of playing to improve, to better your own score and you love the feeling of accomplishment that goes along with that then The Golf Club 2 is the game you’ve been looking for.