I’m gonna say this right from the outset; ever since The Golf Club first released, it has been THE golf game for the current generation. The simulation approach, coupled with excellent course generation tools, has set The Golf Club apart, and highlighted a massive divide between it and its competition.
Mind you, when the only competition was EA Sports’ abhorrent Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, it honestly didn’t have a lot to beat.
That being said, The Golf Club has gone from strength to strength, and has been rewarded for its efforts. This year the franchise took another big step forward, obtaining a coveted PGA Tour licence, though beyond that that The Golf Club 2019 is more an incremental upgrade rather than the big step forward that it could have been.
Before I get too deep into this review, I’m going to make a bold statement; if you are looking for a super in-depth review of every single aspect of The Golf Club 2019, this isn’t the review for you. A reviewer not getting super in-depth about absolutely everything is deeply shocking, I know, and some may even say it’s half-assed, but I assure you that I have used my full ass with this. There is a method to my madness and, as most of you will have undoubtedly played either one of or both iterations of The Golf Club and simply want to know if the 2019 edition featuring the PGA Tour is worth the upgrade, that’s where I’m going to focus my attention.
The Golf Club 2019 continues the theme from previous editions. The approach remains intact, so much so that not a great deal has changed. You still control your swing with the analog stick, with to control over angle and power. There is some refinement, by having swing tempo have as much importance as getting that perfectly straight back and forth movement. If you’re too slow or too fast, then expect to spray the ball around the course more than Rory McIlroy on a really bad day. And you’ve still got three different levels of clubs to choose from, each less forgiving, but with more power and distance for those who are up for mastering the mechanics.
Creating and being part of clubs is back once again, which is a core part of online play; being part of a club, playing for bragging rights, and competing in online competitions are realistically where a lot of people are going to play their golf.
Course creation is back, and this really is a backbone of The Golf Club. If you’ve created courses previously, rest assured you can upload those courses into the 2019 version and pick up right where you left off. Course design is as deep or as simple as you want it to be, with procedural generation doing a lot of the grunt work that enables high levels of customisation, so anyone can micromanage ways to ruin a good walk. This is also the perfect way to play unlicenced recreations of some of the most beloved courses in the world. Augusta, St. Andrews, and Pebble Beach are just a few that you can expect to find faithfully (and in some cases painstakingly) recreated by the community. which. Good thing too, because you won’t find many “Official” PGA courses in The Golf Club 2019.
Ah yes, the coveted official licence, the holy grail of any sports game. After all, gamers want to be able to play as their favourite team, stars, or create their own character to compete with the pros. Golf being an individual pursuit isn’t about playing as your favourite team, nor necessarily about playing as your favourite player. What it’s about is playing on some of the world’s most challenging courses and, in the case of obtaining a licence, playing on some of the most famous courses in the world and experiencing that course. After all, us mere mortals are probably never going to have the chance (i.e. money) to play on any of them.
For HB Studios, the PGA Tour licence means having some official golf courses, bit it’s a fairly short list. Six TPC courses make an appearance: Summerlin, Scottsdale, South Wind, Deere Run, Boston, and the iconic Sawgrass are what we get. That, my friends, is the sum total of the official PGA courses. They are all breathtakingly created and look stunning, especially in 4K on the Xbox One X, but it’s a short list of courses, and you can’t help but wish there were more. If you want more then you’ll have to create your own version of your favourite course, or play one of the many excellent creations already live; just search for your course and filter by ratings to get the best in the community.
The next step is some official brands in game, and to be fair they did that, though they are limited to clothing and accessories. You won’t find any official brands to use for your clubs or golf balls, unfortunately, which is a tad disappointing.