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The Golf Club 2019: PGA TOUR Review

The Golf Club 2019

The Golf Club 2019: PGA TOUR Review

As we embrace the third golf game released by HB Studios, who would have guessed the direction of the title from year one to year three would see a securing of the PGA license, a full PGA TOUR mode, and a partnership with development and publishing powerhouse, 2K Sports? It’s nothing short of a drastic deviation from the original intent of this title, but definitely a positive step forward for the community and the development studio itself. So what does all of this mean for everyone involved? I am not sure we can answer that question quite yet, but it has created quite the buzz and has opened the door to amazing possibilities in the future. That said, my focus is on the newest release, The Golf Club 2019, and whether it is a worthy follow-up to TGC 2.

What I Like

Gameplay

Listing gameplay as something I like will always be a positive for any game, obviously, but what exactly does that mean for TGC 2019? For starters, the new ball physics are seriously a game changer and elevate the title more towards a golf simulation than ever before. As an avid real-life golfer, I have witnessed very few in-game shots reacting oddly coming off the face or blade of the club, and the interaction with the environment is just as smooth. Shots feel authentic and realistic, and there is a real perceived “weight” behind a swing that allows for a more precise approach to each and every on-course opportunity. However, some of the mid-to-short game shots have a ball “roll out” that feels to be a bit too aggressive, and at times feels unnatural. Occasionally, I found myself asking why a shot didn’t stick on the green from a certain shot, club and loft combination, but that issue aside, the overall club feel and results are outstanding.

With all that being said, once you hit the greens, things get even better. The feel of the putter and ball, and the overall mechanics of one’s swing are as solid as any game has ever produced. While the putting in TGC 2019 doesn’t deviate from its predecessors too much, the overall package has been tweaked in a way that gives the user an incredible amount of control and confidence.

The game offers three levels of club difficulty. You can choose between regular, pro, and master clubs, with master being the hardest. While regular and pro will provide a bit more stability during one’s swing, they also carry a power reduction that can minimize your options on certain shots. If you are a newcomer to the series, I highly suggest spending a large amount of time at the in-game practice range provided by HBS to work on your rhythm and tempo — and see what set of clubs work best for your ability.

Career Mode

In order for the community to find longevity in career mode, it has to offer depth, customization, consistent challenge, and above all else, fun. Thankfully, in my time with career mode, I found all four of these elements present to a certain degree, and more in some cases. If you have ever played the old Tiger Woods series from EA, then you will feel right at home as the game starts you out in Q-School, and asks you to work your way up through the Web.com TOUR, and finally, the PGA TOUR — assuming you meet the predetermined criteria. Depending on the level of difficulty setting and one’s ability, finding yourself as a card-carrying member of the PGA can be a lengthy journey, or a meteoric path to glory. Either way, it’s a fun one as the journey will provide emotion, excitement and disappointment. It allowed me many chances to feel the pressure of having to drop a huge putt or hit the perfect approach shot to stay in contention.

There are some drawbacks to career mode, as the courses one plays are predetermined, and only six of them will carry actual PGA licenses. Also, the players you play against are generic in name — but can be edited to a degree — and the presentation and commentary are solid. Overall, career mode is a fun and exciting trip, and while it isn’t the complete and immersive package fans were hoping for, it’s a solid start for those who love to seek glory on the greens.

Multiplayer

For many, myself included, multiplayer is where is a lot of time will be spent with TGC 19. Luckily for the developers, the game of golf really lends itself well to the whole social experience, and this title is no different. It’s no secret that I have had some issues with TGC and its MP system in the past, but thankfully, the developers have done a solid job of creating a strong stable of options and seamless online play with TGC 19. Whether it’s joining a society (think country club Wednesday night league) online matchmaking, or private matches, fans of online can find multiple game modes and matches, and do so effortlessly. My only issue with creating or joining a society at this juncture is the society owner still has to wait a day to advance after a tournament is finished. Now that is typically not a problem for most, but for the user(s) who play with just a few friends, many want to advance sometimes two to three times a day, and at least currently it’s just not possible. With all that said, I have personally played multiple online sessions, and it feels as good as couch co-op at this point, and that is a drastic improvement from past iterations of TGC.

What I Don’t Like

Course Creator Accessibility

I love the course creator, and that is the truth. It adds a community involvement like no other, and although there are still some issues with the program, I have spent hours upon hours in it. Sadly, during my talk with many others, they have stated they have no desire to utilize it, even though they have tried multiple times. The truth is, while the course creator is easy to use, it can be extremely hard to master for many. Plenty of people still do not understand how to shape properly, add water properly, create hills and add proper undulation — and the community-created courses suffer because of it. HB Studios (and others) provide some wonderful tutorials, both in video and text form, but for many it’s still not enough. My hope is that they simplify the processes to add items, flatten and raise grounds, blend areas, and implement water. For some, doing a lot of this work may come easy, but if HBS can create a bit more user-friendly interface with the course creator, the course-creation community will grow and prosper.

PGA Identity

We all understand this is year one for HBS and the PGA license implementation, but for many who are new to the series, the assumption is the game is a fully licensed title with multiple real-life courses and players — and that’s an issue. I love the six TPC PGA courses included as they are truly authentic in almost every way, but that is because I understand the plan and know the history of the series. I also realize that the studio’s plans are to add more real courses over time to TGC 19, but even with that, the game is mostly generic in terms of clothing, clubs, balls and courses. I fully expect the next iteration of The Golf Club to be saturated in PGA authenticity, but for now, users need to have a full understanding that the PGA license is not all-encompassing at this juncture.

Bottom Line

If you are a veteran of the series, The Golf Club 2019 is going to feel familiar in many ways as most of the improvements are subtle and under the hood. When you combine those improvements though, it makes for one heck of a fun title, and one that should have golf fans addicted for quite some time. HB Studios has provided the user plenty of options to customize the game to their liking, and created levels of customizable difficulty to keep one feeling challenged for some time. So whether you love the social aspect of TGC societies, playing private multiplayer matches, navigating your way through a PGA career, or simply building your dream course in the course creator, The Golf Club 2019 is likely to fill a void left by EA Sports. And, better yet, it will even do so in an exciting, fun and authentic way.

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  1. Question - I have never played the past games but read the reviews. From what I read this game can be hard and frustrating at times. I played all the Tiger Woods games and still play the Rory EA game . I am not great at it but can win tournaments. I don't want to buy this and be frustrated at the difficulty. So how hard is it? I know that's a difficult question because everyone's ability is different but seeing that I am a decent EA golf player will I find this too hard? Thanks for your help.
    I have played all three games in the series now.They are all very similar titles at their foundation & I was surprised at the lack of change & updates with this latest edition.
    That being said it has something about it that TGC1 & 2 didn't have,I don't know what it is but the game keeps calling me back for another 18 holes.
    Peter_OS
    Nice write up Robert! Not a big golf fan myself, but I will definitely give this game a try after reading your review.

    Appreciate it Peter - hope you enjoy it. As said above in a post...there is a fun factor that just keeps calling me back to play another 18, and another, and another.
    I also agree, it was a great write up. @oldmanonsilvercreek here's what I'd say for you. If you do a lot of the arcade elements of TW/RM golf (power boost, spin adjusting in the air, etc) this game will frustrate you. This is geared more towards those of us that liked TW but wanted a little more realistic feel. There are courses that will punish you for taking chances and make your save shots more difficult.
    Overall this game has a steep learning curve to master, but has an approachable start. They allow you to have a choice on easy, medium, hard clubs. These make it more forgiving on your swing, so if you have a hard time keeping a straight shot, it won't be as punishing. If you master easy and get your way up to hard, you gain more distance with your clubs. Your accuracy has to be much more precise. Every shot has a different precision meter you have to fill. If the shot is tough, it's less forgiving than say a tee shot.
    I've realized now that I'm getting a little long here, so overall if you get frustrated at times with TW or RM, I'd avoid this one. It's an insanely fun game for the right person. I have enjoyed the hell out of TGC games and this one feels better than any of the games in the past. Ball physics are definitely noticeable. The ability to speed up the game while the ball is in the air is huge for me (get more holes in when I have less time). If you have a decent gaming PC my suggestion would be to pick it up on Steam and if you play less than two hours and don't like it, refund it. Easy way to see what you think. 
    I have to disagree.  If you've actually played golf you will see that the ball physics are not realistic at all.  Pitching wedges from the fairway don't spin, they bounce forward like they've hit a sprinkler head and ball interaction with the rough is terrible, it bounces around like a pinball through long grass.  The PGA component has potential but feels like it was crammed in last minute.  I was really hoping this would be a solid game, I love playing video golf but this game IMO failed.  I returned it after a couple days and Microsoft was kind enough to refund my money.  No anger here, just make sure you try it before you buy it.
    steviegolfballs
    If you've actually played golf you will see that the ball physics are not realistic at all.* Pitching wedges from the fairway don't spin, they bounce forward like they've hit a sprinkler head and ball interaction with the rough is terrible, it bounces around like a pinball through long grass.

    Agreed - Way too many people overlooking something that's really fundamental and incorrectly implemented in the game right now (many of the ball physics - spin especially).
    I hope they can patch it.
    steviegolfballs
    * Pitching wedges from the fairway don't spin, they bounce forward like they've hit a sprinkler head.

    I agree with this statement....They need to fix this
    Thanks so much ttrobbins84, you explained it very nicely, hmm after reading your advice I think I will give it a go but not till later. Think I will wait till I see it on eBay someday or if it's on the deals on Xbox live. That way even if I get frustrated i won't get upset if I didn't pay full price. Thanks again, much appreciated, you were are a huge help!
    Thanks for the review.
    I bought this game on day one.
    I'm having a good time with it.
    I like the TPC courses. They are great. Hope they add some additional real courses.
    Some of the "fantasy" courses are great and some drive me nuts as many have unrealistic hazards and ridiculous greens that are impossible to put on.
    I play a ton of golf in real life and agree with the comments about the wedge shots.
    I'm happy with the game overall and hope with a couple patches and some dlc this one will stay in my rotation for some time.
    BDKiiing
    Even though we already discussed most of this on Twitter, great read, Bob. Spot on.

    Thanks...some issues with the game, but IMO it is def a nice step forward for series as a whole.
    How editable are the career mode players? Can I just edit the generic names to current pros to represent a realistic looking tour? In theory we Won't see the other golfers play so appearance is irrelevant
    willyfantastic
    How editable are the career mode players? Can I just edit the generic names to current pros to represent a realistic looking tour? In theory we Won't see the other golfers play so appearance is irrelevant

    I renamed one of the top guys "Tiger Woods" just to see how it worked.
    I was able to change the display photo and country along with the player name.
    Has anyone figured what exactly the difficulty settings do in PGA Tour Mode? Does it make you shoot from different tees? Firmer Greens? More wind?
    Is there any literature on this setting?
    VicN916
    Has anyone figured what exactly the difficulty settings do in PGA Tour Mode? Does it make you shoot from different tees? Firmer Greens? More wind?
    Is there any literature on this setting?

    Not sure if wind effects are tied to difficulty but green speed certainly is.
    Choose Medium AI and you get 141 green speed and medium firmness.
    Hard = 163 green speed and firm everywhere.
    Very hard= 187 green speed and very firm.
    I was under the impression that difficulty had nothing to do with in game gameplay but only about how your opponents performed and how easy or difficult it was for you to progress through your career.
    If I'm not mistaken, difficulty only pops up before starting a career or a society.
    Am I wrong?
    Difficulty is linked to how well the cpu scores as well as everything else i mentioned in my post above.
    You can change the difficulty at any time during career and it takes effect from the next tournament you play...👍
    jr86
    Difficulty is linked to how well the cpu scores as well as everything else i mentioned in my post above.
    You can change the difficulty at any time during career and it takes effect from the next tournament you play...👍

    Are you sure about that?
    I have only seen the ability to change difficulty once you pass Q school, Web.com, etc.
    Where am I missing this? I am on Very Hard and loving the challenge.
    DivotMaker
    Are you sure about that?
    I have only seen the ability to change difficulty once you pass Q school, Web.com, etc.
    Where am I missing this? I am on Very Hard and loving the challenge.

    You change it in the settings tab on the Pga tour career home screen
    jr86
    Difficulty is linked to how well the cpu scores as well as everything else i mentioned in my post above.
    You can change the difficulty at any time during career and it takes effect from the next tournament you play...👍

    Difficulty also determines which tee boxes you play. Got to go Very Hard and occasionally Hard to play the tips.
    Love the game. BUT, as you mentioned couch coop play: I do not understand why I cannot login with my account but have to play as a guest  when I am at my friends place. I want my stats recorded and my records displayed. That HB still has not included it is a huge disappointment. 
    Good review - will hopefully inspire a few more visits. Surprised to sense an initial reluctance to visit this track from such a well-travelled golfer! Please continue to review more courses like this
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