Over the past four years, HB Studios has quietly filled the cleats once occupied by EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour series. Its (relatively) young The Golf Club franchise focused on a deep simulation of the game and a massive library of courses, thanks to an online creator that lets users design their own tracks.
Still, something was missing: the courses golf fans see on TV. The Golf Club 2019 remedies that with an official PGA Tour license. While The Golf Club 2019 isn’t the best golf game ever made, it does plant the seeds of a new official golf game franchise.
The Golf Club 2019‘s official partnership with the PGA Tour means not only official courses, but also a proper career mode. Your aspiring golf champion starts in the Web.com Tour to earn a spot on the PGA Tour. Throughout the season you earn points that go towards your Fed Ex Cup ranking, which ultimately leads to the playoffs. It’s a great change of pace from The Golf Club’s previous career mode, which was hardly more than a selection of events strong together.
The career mode uses a mix of real and HB Studios designed venues. Though partnered with the PGA Tour, it only has six official courses, all of which are PGA Tour-operated TPC venues. These include TPC Summerlin, TPC Scottsdale Stadium, TPC Southwind, TPC Deere Run, TPC Boston, and TPC Sawgrass. Of those six, TPC Sawgrass stands out as the iconic venue of The Players Championship. Each official course is rendered in immaculate detail, but the brunt of the season still happens at fictitious courses.
Though it now has real-life courses, The Golf Club 2019 is missing one other key aspect — real players. You won’t see any Tour pros here. You can’t play against current leaders, nor against legends like Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, or Dustin Johnson. It diminishes the tension at the The Players Championship when you’re chasing a made-up golfer down the stretch instead of Webb Simpson, the 2019 Players champ.
While it has a limited selection of official courses, The Golf Club 2019 offers plenty of turf to play on. The Golf Club community has used the level editor to add new courses since the first release in 2014. That means you can play on thousands of courses. Obviously, not all of them are great, but it’s easy to find a challenging and well-designed track that you’ve never played before. In theory, you could play The Golf Club for dozens of hours and never play the same course twice.
If you want to get in the course creation yourself, you’ll find the course creator itself is intuitive and fun to use. Designing and playing on your own courses is a unique thrill. Creative players may spend more time designing courses than playing the game.
While The Golf Club 2019 inches closer to offering the authentic experience of the now defunct Tiger Woods PGA Tour, make no mistake — this isn’t an EA Sports golf game. That’s good news if your a serious fan of the sport. The Golf Club 2019 is difficult, though it never feels unfair. If you pull the stick back too fast or follow through too slowly, expect an errant shot. If you don’t keep the stick straight, am unintentional slice or a hook will happen. You can’t stop the ball on a dime like in Tiger Woods — distance control and varying your shot type is key. Greens are slick and must be read manually, cementing the short game as the means for success. The Golf Club 2019 isn’t just about getting on the green and whacking a few balls. Success demands patience and practice.
That said, once you grasp the controls and get to know the ins and outs of its intricate systems, it’s an immensely rewarding experience. With 2K and the PGA Tour on board, it seems that The Golf Club series could have a bright future. As it stands, The Golf Club 2019 is the premier golf sim today.
The game is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.