THE GOLF CLUB 2
You don’t have to wear crazy pants to play, but it helps
GOLF USED TO HAVE a history on PC. We guess it still does, it’s just receding more quickly as the years go by. There was Links, of course, in its 386 Pro (which became MicrosoftGolf) and 2003 incarnations, delivering remarkable graphics for the time. Then there was EA with its PGATour games, a series that evolved the swing past a series of colored wheels into something you could really get some power behind.
GolfClub developer HB Studios has history, too, with EA. Working on cricket and rugby games, along with FIFA, Madden, and NBA titles, the studio even put out 2010’ s Tiger Woods P GA Tour game on PS 2. Something about that game clearly stuck, as TheGolfClub2 will be familiar to anyone who’s played PGATour.
The mechanics of golf, that game beloved of presidents and men who want to dress like idiots, are certainly well represented, the analog swing tuned for both mouse and controller use. A twitchy thumb can ruin your shot whatever method you choose, and the speed of your swing is taken into account—smoothness is everything, and a rushed swing leading to a jerky finish is as bad as deviating from the center line.
In common with other golf games, playing out on the fairways is straightforward, as long as you knock the ball roughly in the right direction and get decent distance, while putting is a living hell that can trap you for what seems like centuries, gently dribbling the ball inches closer to a hole that not only seems too small for the ball to fit in, but also turns invisible and teleports. A grid showing slope and elevation helps hugely, but this is the part of the game that takes many hours of practice to master. The polished tutorial talks you through it, and when you get one in the hole first time, the feeling of victory is immense.
It’s GC2’ s structure that differs from other titles. Instead of playing a mappedout career, ascending through local competitions and amateur leagues to the pro game, you choose your path. You choose your golfer, too, through a well-equipped character creator, so the game feels personal from the start. Custom courses make an appearance, and multiplayer Societies bring people together to play, both online and in a local turn-based mode.
Golf games have often shone graphically, but GC2 has a few issues, shadows in particular appearing hard-edged and blocky, especially if you move to the wrong angle. Another quirk is the always-online single-player game, ruling it out as a timekiller for laptop-toting travelers.
There isn’t a great deal of competition on PC. JackNicklausPerfectGolf is out there, and a VR version of the first GolfClub, but in the absence of big-name licenses, GC2 mostly avoids the rough.
Playing from a bunker hampers your shot— best to avoid them.
Putting is hell.
Forest courses look great ’ til you
notice the repeated tree assets.
A bird's eye view lets you plan your strategy.