Having missed the second of “The Golf Club” games, I was eager to see what differences the third game brought in comparison to the first game, which I really enjoyed. The first two games didn’t enjoy any proper licensing, so HB Studios went out and grabbed the official PGA Tour license! Thanks to the PGA deal, HB Studios now has the license to go along with its previously excellent golf sim. Do HB Studios get a hole in one with the new licencing in The Golf Club 2019 or do they miss the cut?
With the PGA licence The Golf Club 2019 brings six real-world courses to the game. They include well-known ones like TPC Sawgrass and TPC Scottsdale. The licensed courses are featured in the game’s new PGA Tour career mode, with fictional courses filling in the gaps.
The downside to the PGA licence is that it looks like HB Studios have missed some famous courses like St. Andrews and Augusta National and they have also not included any real-life players which is disappointing, especially if you wanted to be Tiger Woods or famous golfers of the past. This results in making the PGA Tour career mode feel limited as only six of the mode’s 32 events take place on real golf courses. Don’t get me wrong the fictional courses are beautiful, challenging, and diverse, but and it’s a big but (no pun intended) you are left feeling like more real courses should have been included with the PGA licence. Perhaps downloadable content is on the way.
Progression through your PGA Tour season involves being able to level your player up and unlocking items like clothing and clubs. You also unlock sponsorship tiers and related items after wins, including gear from real-world companies. While all that is fun, the rival system that pits you against another player on the tour by tracking your progress against theirs is more likely to make you come back and shoot for those Eagles (no Eagles were harmed in doing this lol). Levelling up in your career does not include maxing your opponents’ attributes which is kind of good as when you take on people in multiplayer, there is no unfair advantage. The player creator has a plethora of options for you to tinker with to make your golfer look exactly like you want them to.
Once you don those virtual crazy golf pants and get on the course you will find out that The Golf Club 2019 is simply the best golf game on the market. The swing mechanics are just superb and are a lot more involved than the first game in The Golf Club series. Tempo is the key in this game and it is quite difficult to swing with the right speed and direction to send the ball where you want it. Your success or failure on the course depends on your ability to dial in the right combination of many elements like height, fade, power, and direction, all of which you control at the same time. Getting all this right is not easy and requires patience to get the hang of in order to have a successful round of golf. I found the swinging of the golf club with the action of pulling down then up on the control stick (I used the right stick but you can choose the left) a lot more sensitive this year which is a major reason the game is harder than before in my view.
An element of The Golf Club games which I have never delved into is the course-creator. This allows you to adjust and design almost everything on your course. Once your design is done you can upload and share courses with the community. This gives all owners of the game the ability to play new and never-before-seen courses which is great and will keep golfers coming back for more.
Finally, there is the online modes. There is the Societies mode, which lets you create and join clubs where you and your friends or the other players in cyberspace can compete against other players’ ghosts in seasons that run for multiple weeks. There is also head-to-head online multiplayer which now lets you play Skins and Alt-Shot game modes in addition to standard ones like Stroke and Match play.
The courses are modelled with a huge attention to detail. The 6 real world courses are just gorgeous and faithfully re-creates their real-world counterparts. The Golf Club 2019 is a beautiful looking game with its 4K resolution on the Xbox One X and the HDR as playing at dusk with sunspots peeking through the clouds is fantastic. The only let down in the visuals is the golfer. While they are nicely detailed they don’t seem quite as polished as the courses are. The golfer animations are very true to life and many keen golfers will appreciate the authenticity of the golfers swing animations. The celebratory animations when you sink a birdie etc do get tedious as there isn’t much variety and when you are found in awkward positions around the course such as on a slope or near the water the animations can be a mixed bag. Overall The Golf Club 2019 is a great looking game which is pulled back from being a superb looking game by some odd animations.
As for the sound in this game, the sound of the club striking the ball reflects what you hear on the course in real life and on TV and the surrounding sounds that you hear on a golf course like birds chirping, trees swaying in the wind are all faithfully reproduced.
As for the commentary, the tournament commentary is quite rough and doesn’t add anything and has you cringing at times as the commentary team will make out-of-place comments and repeat themselves regularly. However, the main man that commentates while you are playing is a champion. John McCarthy cheers you on and makes polite, playful little jabs when you miss a putt or shank a shot which are quite funny. He even acts like he feels your pain when you narrowly miss a putt as he groans and says, “I thought that was in, very disappointing”. It is the most enjoyable commentary I have heard in a golf game.
While there are no real golfers and a lack of real golf courses despite the PGA licence, The Golf Club 2019 is a joy to play and look at. Improved tournament commentary is needed in next years game but the commentary while playing is fun to listen, even if he has a go at you when you play badly lol. I personally recommend this game over any other golf game and that is why it gets a very respectable 4 thumbs up!
Craig Cirillo is an avid gamer and has been gaming for many years, from back in the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 days until now with his Xbox One S and PS4 Pro. Craig had ownership stakes in 2 previous websites, Gaming Obsession Australia and All Age Gaming. He enjoys all types of games with his particular favorites being the Gears of War series and the Street Fighter series.