PC Golf Games: PGA Tour or Links?
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Gamers of a certain age (ie mine!) will probably have been introduced to the genre by World Class Leaderboard.
The same team produced the Links Golf Series of games which are still my favorite. Those games are partly responsible (along with Command and Conquer) for my RSI issues!
The other massively popular golf game way back when was PGA Tour Golf by Electronic Arts.
Let’s take a look at some of the best PC golf games in history.
Traditional Golf Games
These games tried to be more of a golf simulation or at least as much of a simulation as you could manage using a PC anyway. You would usually have a depiction of the golfer in the foreground and you would have to use your mouse or keyboard to perform a “swing”. Here are some of the best golf games available over the years on the PC.
World Class Leaderboard
By modern standards the graphics are pretty poor but don’t forget back then some PCs weren’t even running at VGA resolution (640×480)!
The game was released by Access software and designed by Bruce and Roger Carver. It was a pretty basic-looking game when compared with modern titles. Don’t forget though this came out in 1987 when PCs were still mainly used for business. People weren’t spending several hundred dollars on graphics cards with 8 GB of RAM! The gameplay was pretty basic too!
This followed on from World Class Leaderboard as it was developed by the same team. The graphics were much improved as PC graphics had got better but still look pretty dated compared to modern games!
The screen often took quite a long time to repaint especially if your PC wasn’t a high-spec one.
Eventually, a course designer was added which led to hundreds of courses being made available by enthusiasts.
Arnold Palmer came on board to endorse the product and the course designer bore his name.
The game remains popular still with 50 courses released in the last 12 months alone. There are now over 2300 courses listed on linkscorner.org for you to download for free! Not bad for a game that last had an official release in 2003!
As well as Linkscorner.org you can find fans of the game at Linkscountryclub.com.
On Steam, you can find LinksE6 which you can play for free. It only comes with five courses. To get more you will need to pay but it looks like a pretty good game. It’s usually one of the options available when you purchase a golf simulator package.
Having played it a little bit I’m somewhat disappointed with the graphics as they don’t look significantly better than the old version of Links. I suppose it’s a bit churlish to argue when the basic game is free.
Jack Nicklaus Golf
Seven different versions of Jack Nicklaus endorsed golf games have been released on the PC between 1988 and 2016.
I only ever owned the Signature Edition which was released in 1992. It included a course designer which if memory serves was a little simpler than the one that came with Links. That meant the designs weren’t quite as good though.
Only two courses were included so you probably need to make use of the designer to give yourself some variety.
Other games in the series included as many as 12 different courses. During the late 80s and early 90s, a number of add-on courses were released as separate products. They tended to feature major championship venues or some of Jack’s own designs.
PGA Tour Golf
The first in a long-running series of games endorsed by the PGA Tour and released by Electronic Arts came out in 1990.
It went through many iterations and used a number of PGA Tour players in-game. Between 1990 and 2015 a new version of the game was released on a virtually annual basis. In 1998 Tiger Woods became the face of the game when he appeared on Tiger Woods 99 PGA Tour Golf.
Reportedly Tiger was earning up to $7 million per year over the 15 years he endorsed the PGA Tour game. After the licensing deal with Tiger finished EA Sports signed up Rory McIlroy for the 2015 edition which to date is the last game in the series.
After an absence of six years without producing any golf games, Electronic Arts announced in April 2021 a new title EA Sports PGA Tour. This will include a licensed version of Augusta National. They have also licensed the other three major championships so it looks like this could be the mother of all golf games. It is due for release in the spring of 2022.
Based on The Golf Club 2019, originally developed by HB Studios, PGA Tour 2K21 was released when 2K Sports took over the developers. They realized that an opening had appeared with EA Sports no longer using the PGA Tour endorsement. They signed a licensing agreement with the tour and added a career mode to the game.
PGA Tour 2K21 features Justin Thomas on the cover and has 11 other PGA Tour pros that you can compete against in career mode to become FedEx Cup Champion. 15 PGA Tour Courses are licensed including TPC Sawgrass and East Lake Golf Club.
There is also a course designer included so you can build your own dream course.
The response to the game was generally favorable with many of the issues with the original Golf Club 2019 game addressed. However, some people weren’t so impressed by the use of micro-transactions in the game.
If you are looking for some quality golf-related gifts then check out 50 golf gifts under $50.
World Golf Tour
I have played this in single-player mode on a mobile device in the past and found it to be quite enjoyable. Since the game is meant to be “free” I was never interested in making any in-game purchases for the equipment et cetera. Looking at some recent reviews on the Internet would suggest that there are many dissatisfied customers. They have made purchases through the game and then have had their accounts closed or been unable to access the equipment they paid for.
I haven’t been deeply involved in games since I was a teenager and I would certainly think long and hard about buying “equipment” inside of the game.
This particular game is free and therefore I suppose it has to make money somehow. I would certainly avoid paying for things in a game that I had already bought and that’s not just golf games that applies to a game in any genre.
Non-Traditional Golf Games
These depart from the traditional golf simulation format and try to make the game a little more user friendly.
Golf With Your Friends
If crazy golf is more your style, then Golf With Your Friends should give you your golfing fix. A multitude of courses in weird and wacky setups with nets or goalies instead of holes. Hockey pucks instead of golf balls!
Playing online might lead to chaos as everyone can play at the same time!
This is a simple puzzle game. Can you complete the 120 levels and conquer the summit. It’s also very inexpensive.
Ever had the urge to run your own golf resort?
GolfTopia is the game that could let your dreams run wild. Design and build your course. Keep your visitors happy and prevent weeds from ruining your playing surfaces!
What The Golf?
The golf game that was created by people who hate golf!
Sounds a bit silly but if you’re looking for some golf-inspired fun after working on your swing for hours you could do a lot worse than What The Golf.
With more than 500 levels of mini-golf madness, you can play as a solo player in two-player party mode or via online two-player mode through steam.
Right, I’m off for a quick 18 at Augusta National! (Links 2003 obviously!). Maybe playing on the small screen isn’t enough for you and you are thinking of a simulator. If so you might want to check you have enough space for one.
Which golf game did you prefer? PGA Tour, Links or something else entirely?