With a confirmed launch date of March 24 for EA Sports PGA Tour, EA’s latest endeavor into the world of golf video games is starting to feel tangible. Dealing with the postponement from last year, some of my excitement had dwindled over the last few months, but after viewing the official gameplay trailer for PGA Tour, the excitement has been rekindled in its purest form.
That said, my thirst for authentic professional golf has been relatively satiated as of late. Thanks to the efforts of 2K Sports with PGA Tour 2K23, it’s not like I have not had the chance to play a solid game. It’s a title that includes a career mode that is deep and offers a lot of replay value for my money.
But the fact that all four major courses will be involved in EA’s career mode has piqued my interest in a way that creative community courses cannot accomplish. That said, there’s still much to learn about the new offering from EA Sports, especially regarding career mode.
As much as I have enjoyed the career mode offering from 2K, it needs to be improved in areas, and I hope EA Sports PGA Tour can nail a couple of them. However, this is less about what 2K can offer versus EA and more about a substantial void in all golf game career modes.
With that said, here are five items I hope EA Sports PGA Tour can add to its career mode to deliver an experience that replicates a more authentic experience on and off the golf course.
Five Ways EA Sports PGA Tour Can Improve Career Modes
Golf injuries play a dramatic role in a player’s ability to perform consistently on the course. Yet, it has rarely been part of any career mode. I’m not talking about the kind of injury that will incapacitate you for an entire season, mind you, but one that will see your attributes lessened during the injury’s duration and create a bit of chaos with your game week to week.
This is an aspect that rarely has ever been present in a golf career mode for any game, which is odd considering we see it in the sports of basketball, football, soccer, and hockey for those career modes. This option can be toggled off and on for those not interested, but it would enhance the mode and create a deeper level of immersion.
I’m not a huge fan of forced manipulation within a career mode, and we see it so prevalent in today’s modes throughout all sports games. That said, golf is a sport saturated with players flying high for weeks at the apex of their game, and just the opposite with players struggling to find even a semblance of rhythm and consistency in their swing.
There is absolute legitimacy to adding a system that lets the player feel the highest of highs and lowest of lows in their game.
All I ask is that the system doesn’t go to the extreme. I’d rather the approach be subtle, where the player can feel the difference in their swing timing, power, and accuracy. Regardless of how you feel about a system like this, it adds an extra layer of drama if you can picture yourself needing to finish in the top 10 of a tournament to make the FedEx Cup championship.
Contracts And Real-World Cost
EA and 2K have had sponsorship, club, and player upgrades available for both franchises, so including something at this level wouldn’t be groundbreaking. This is more about the details that would help round out the depths of this idea. Having been good friends with a former PGA Tour player, he often spoke about the pressures of holding your card and calling the PGA your home and your job.
Pressures included entry fees, travel, accommodations, food, and clothing. Even with sponsorships, he often found himself footing the bill every week, and unless you’re cracking the top 30 every week, consistency off the golf course was challenging to maintain.
Going to the depths of something like I described above would be difficult, but something similar can be done. Including real winnings based on the position in which you finished can quickly be done, and the ability to pick and choose tournaments based on flight and accommodations can be done while also having to take into consideration the entry fee and the difficulty of the field.
These are decisions that real-world golfers have to make and think about unless you are a top-30 player where sponsorships generally take care of all of this.
Multiplayer Season Mode
This is an inclusion that I have sorely wanted for years, and I always felt it would add tremendous depth to a career mode in any golf game. Yes, we have had Online Societies and country clubs. Still, we have never had an updated season mode that allowed at least two people to start a single PGA season together and compete in the same ecosystem.
It would require two to four dedicated people who could play at the same pace as each other and have the ability to join the same tournaments when needed. Having an option like this has been neglected for far too long. It’s a viable enough mode to see players starting new seasons well after the initial release date.
Add in the ability to play the mode online and go after the FedEx Cup, and I don’t see why this mode would not give a golf game legs. Many, like myself, do not care for joining Online Societies or clubhouses with a mass of real people and the inevitable game manipulation that is associated with modes like this.
Instead, I want an option that allows us to play with a few close friends for a season with AI opponents for bragging rights, stats accumulation, and hopefully a shot at winning the FedEx Cup.
Caddies Who Can Be Upgraded
While the idea of having a caddie walking with you throughout a tournament has been represented in previous games, it has always come off as a somewhat shallow and empty gesture with minimal rewards while being more of a nuisance. What I would love to see is a caddie who is brought along as part of the team with multiple categories that can be upgraded in terms of overall course knowledge, club suggestions, reading green breaks, and contours.
The caddie could also gain course knowledge each time a tournament is played and they are involved, with a system that would remind you of previous shots you took on that hole and the results. Having a dynamic caddie who can be upgraded along with you as your career progresses is another outlet for the inevitable XP that will eventually have no place to be distributed.
The fact is that EA may not include any of these options in their upcoming release for the initial jump back into the golfing world. Still, this is year one, and I hope that both EA and 2K find ways to make their career modes more authentic for the community. These are just a few ideas that could help achieve a more realistic career mode in both titles, but other options are available, and it’s time for both development teams to find new ways to instill new life into their career modes.