Review: The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA Tour
Despite having helped ship over 40 titles in their history, HB Studios really hit the bigtime with the release of The Golf Club back in 2014, delivering a golf game that played more like a simulation than gamers were used to, and then reinforced that simulation style with 2017’s The Golf Club 2. Coming off a solid sophomore release, expectations were already high for The Golf Club 2019, the next outing in the franchise, and then the news hit – HB Studios had secured the PGA Tour license after EA let it slip away from their ‘in hiatus’ franchise.
Now labeled The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA Tour, and with 2K on board as the publisher, the game features an officially licensed PGA Tour Career mode, with Q-School leading into the Web.com tour, then a 32-tourney season that includes tournaments like the John Deere Classic and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Make it to the PGA Tour and you’ll form rivalries with other golfers (though the licensing doesn’t extend to player likenesses, so don’t expect to battle against or as Tiger Woods) as you duke it out on six official TPC courses for higher finishes in competitions and the sponsorship dollars they bring.
The PGA license isn’t the only change, with improvements to the graphics, load times, and environments that show HB Studios is really getting a handle on the Unity engine. I encountered some very minor hitching, but only in online play when people were joining or leaving the party, so it may be a bug that’s easily squashed or at least easily avoided. Local co-op was silky smooth the entire round.
Fortunately, HB Studios didn’t mess with the swing system too much, leaving this as the best ‘feeling’ golf game out there. The mechanic of moving a single stick back and forth – you can choose to swing with either the left or right analog stick – seems simple enough but offers a ton of depth if you want to explore it. The beginner clubs are safe, you won’t fire the ball in the bush for minor mistakes, but you also can’t easily use more advanced tactics like intentionally putting a fade on your shot. Use either of the higher-level club sets, however, and you’ll need to keep an eye on the speed of both your backswing and forward swing, as well as the straightness of the swing, the wind, the lie, the landing area slope, etc.
Nail it all, and it feels more rewarding than any shot you’ve made in another golf game…ever.
Putting is difficult, especially on fast greens, but it never feels unfair. You’ll go on streaks – like in real golf – where you can’t sink a putt to save your life, then it ‘clicks’ and you’re draining 38-foot birdies like they’re nothing.
The one thing you’ll never have to worry about with The Golf Club 2019 is running out of courses to play on. The Course Creator is back and has some outstanding improvements, not the least of which is performance gains, and it’s possible to import courses created in the previous game so there should be a near-infinite number of courses to play, and a few of them are even good.