by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
With the downfall of EA’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise, there’s never been a better time for a golf game to come out. The Golf Club looks to capitalise, bringing some decent multiplayer features and a robust course editor. It was in early access on Steam for a good while before releasing for real. However, despite being a fully-fledged game now, it’s still lacking in features and it has many bugs.
I know that Unity games can run better than this. I don’t think I completed a full 18 hole course without having to restart the game due to some huge graphical glitch either obscuring my vision, or just being generally annoying. If it wasn’t that, it was crippling frame rate drop that only went away with a full quit. The fans on my PC seem to need to be going at full speed whenever the game is running, as if it were hugely taxing on my hardware - and my computer is no slouch. This would be fine if the game looked stunning, but it just… doesn’t. Everything looks pretty good, but not good enough to warrant all these bugs and frame rate issues.
Swing and a miss
These problems alone are enough to drop the overall score a long way. Sadly, the actual game isn’t particularly good either. It has a slightly new take on the swing mechanic that has been around for many years now. Playing with a controller (highly recommended), you pull back on the right stick, and push forward to swing your club. The further back you pull, the more powerful the shot will be, provided you swing forward with full force. Another way of reducing your shot power is to swing forward slower. In order to be accurate, your swing will have to be straight. Go outside of a narrow red zone on the shot meter, and you will either pull your shot, or slice it.
The swing mechanic is fine, but there’s no real way of telling how powerful your shot will be unless you are pulling it back all the way. For anything under 100% you will just have to use your best guess, especially if you are using the slow forward swing technique. Putting is even worse. If you are anywhere further than around 10 feet from the hole, it is nearly impossible to judge how far you are going to hit the ball. You will get a general feel for each club eventually, but I never found myself to be perfectly comfortable. The developers are trying to create a real world feel, but they’ve removed the actual game aspects of it too much, to the point of limiting you in what you want to do.
The game modes are oddly lacking too. You’re just playing golf at the end of the day, but there’s no sense of progression. This is really a game for enthusiasts only, rather than those looking for golf they can play on their PC. Your player can be customised a minimal amount, but their skills never get better or worse. You will always hit a driver about 265 yards at full power off the tee, depending on the wind. You can play a quick round of golf on a course or play a tournament against players whose ghost shots appear on the screen as you’re about to take yours, but there’s no real aim. Even the “tour”, which I thought would at least be some sort of career mode is just a selection of tournaments.
There’s not even a practice mode or any kind of tutorial. Plenty of videos can be found online to teach you the basics, but having to navigate to them in a web browser rather than them being in the game is mind boggling. It was through these videos that I found out that to take practice shots, you have to go into the course creator. From there you can select “play hole” or “play from here” where you can take a shot from your cursor location. Why isn’t this a standard option from the main menu?
Really, the best part about The Golf Club is the course creator. You select some basic things like its location, how fast you want the greens to be, how many trees there are, and how much water is present. It quickly generates eighteen holes for you, and you are ready to play. These quick courses are generally pretty good too, if a little lacking in features. If you really want to get down to it, there are plenty of tools to make your course your own. You can alter everything from green position and fairway width to the location of individual trees. You can add in objects as well, from golf carts and benches right up to huge sailboats. It is even possible to add various forms of wildlife, just to make your course that more authentic.
The Golf Club has the potential to be so much more than it is. In my opinion it came out of early access too early, because the full game still feels very beta-y. If the huge amount of graphical bugs are fixed, some new features are added and some sort of power meter is added to your swing, it could be a lot better. Hopefully work will still be done on it post-release, because right now, it’s not worth the money.
Powerful course creator that's fairly easy to use. I think the name is clever.
Crippling graphical bugs. No progression. Swing power is too vague.