Golf Gaming: The Golf Club 2 outshines the original

KINGSBARNS, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 01: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was altered with digital filters.) A rainbow is seen prior to the Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links on August 1, 2017 in Kingsbarns, Scotland. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
KINGSBARNS, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 01: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was altered with digital filters.) A rainbow is seen prior to the Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links on August 1, 2017 in Kingsbarns, Scotland. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images) /

Golf video games have seen quite a resurgence in a generation where gaming is bigger than ever. The Golf Club 2 is the leader for this generation of the virtual links.

Golf video games have come a long way since Jim Wells designed Pro Golf 1 to run on the Apple II platform. In fact, eSports has gotten so big it’s become a regular sports category.

Golf video games have joined in the eSports fun, traversing beautifully into this new wave of gaming. The Golf Club 2 is a game where you can enjoy an authentic golf experience while letting your imagination soar.

The Golf Club 1 ranked highly on our top 20 golf games of all-time (2000’s era) list. The Golf Club 2 is even greater than that, as the game has improved dramatically.

You begin your journey by going through some training sessions as the voice of the game, John McCarthy, walks you along. The practice focuses on the key golf fundamentals, such as driving, chipping, putting as well as utilizing shot shaping.

Afterward, you are placed on the tee of a driving range where you can work on your swing to your heart’s content. The thing I noticed immediately as I took swings on the range was how much better the swings looked and felt.

The swing animations in the first Golf Club were solid, but the sequel presents a more authentic looking swing. When I hit a good drive (which isn’t often), I know it, because you can feel it within the controller.

Even your golfer reacts a certain way when he or she knows they hit a great shot. The little things like that are what blown me away immediately with The Golf Club 2.  When you hit a bad shot, your golfer will look on in disgust. The players act how we would act on the real course.

Audio is one of the most important aspects of any golf video game, and HB Studios nailed the sound with TGC 2. When you hit a solid shot with your driver, hybrid or iron, you can hear the purity of the shot. This just adds to the immersion of the experience.

The putting system is just as good, if not better than the original game, which is saying a lot as TGC 1 had one of the best putting mechanics of all-time. The main system is still intact, but what makes the putting better in the sequel goes back to the look.

The putting animation is highly improved, the reactions of a made putt are better, and the ball physics on the green are improved. Putting is the most important skill in golf, and TGC 2 has solidified the realism of the flat stick game.

The Golf Club 2 allows you to customize to your heart’s content

Player customization has received a major overhaul from the original version. In the first game you chose between five or six golfers, and you were able to choose from a select amount of clothing.

In TGC 2, you can change the look of your golfer in many ways, including, facial features, hair, as well as a bunch of cool clothing options. You can even wear a Payne Stewart style hat with a t-shirt and shorts if you want.

This is a major upgrade from TGC 1 where you were limited to just a hat, polo, and pants. It’s fun to be able to make your golfer your way. The only limitation is you can’t change your golfer’s height and weight. Other than that, there’s a rich selection of customization options for you to enjoy.

You can even change the clothing to any color you want using the custom colors tool. For my golfer, I gave him an orange and white t-shirt with an orange visor, to match my alma mater, the Illinois Media School.

The colors tool is a fun way to show off your personality on the virtual links. You can take that, and implement it into your clubs as well. Golf club customization is very similar to clothing. You can change the style of heads, grips, and shafts. You can also change the color of each head if you’d like.

For the record, I made my putter head green. There’s even a cool putter head you can unlock that’s in the shape of a mini golf putter.

This is actually fitting, considering the fact that designers are always creating mini golf courses in the game. This shows how deep The Golf Club experience is and how creative the designers are.

The Golf Club 2 Shines in Career Mode

On to the career mode, we go, and it’s one of the most unique you’ll see in a sports game. It’s fairly simple but different.

You play the role as tour president, and with the TGC franchise’s juiciest element being customization, this career mode is all about how you want to play. You start by naming your tour or “society” and as an example, I created the FanSided Tour (genius right?).

You start in a clubhouse which is your career mode hub. You can change the color of the furniture to add a little flair to your Golf Palace. Your home menu is here, and this is where you can start your career.

After that, you can change names of the generated players in you want to. Perhaps you want to change your competitions names to that of PGA or LPGA Tour players. You can do that.

Next, you create your season and there several ways you can go about it. You can choose from templates created by HB Studios with seasons ranging from five to 40+ events, similar to that of a PGA TOUR schedule.

Or, you can create your own season from scratch and use any courses you want for your events. It can be user-designed courses, or TGC Official tracks (made by HB Studios). You create a full-blown schedule with over 40 tournaments, or you can go with a single event if you want.

The fun part about creating your own season is the fact that you can choose any courses you want. Probably the most fun part about it is the naming of the tournaments.

In prep for the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, I created a single event season. That one event was the PGA Championship, which I played on a great recreation of Baltusrol by a user named Phoenix_Jay.

In a previous season, I created a U.S. Open and a Masters event (which I named Pro Golf Now Invitational in-game). This is just some of the fun you can have when putting together your tour.

One of the awesome things about tournaments in TGC 2, is how the environment changes. When you play a regular round, it’s just you, the course, and John, pushing you along the way.

When you play in a tournament, you start to see crowds, camera towers, and John becomes a broadcaster for the TGC Network. This change helps bring the excitement of tournament golf to the TGC franchise.

After completing tournaments, you will earn cash in which you can use to purchase bigger, more lavish clubhouses, which is an awesome little feature. You need to level up your society in order to purchase fancier clubhouses.

In order to level up your society, all you have to do is reel in the paper (money) from playing in tournaments. Once you’ve earned enough, you can level up your clubhouse. Leveling up your society also allows you create seasons with more tournaments.

Online Multiplayer allows you to join a virtual Country Club

It’s fun, unique way to play a career mode. It’s not often where you see a career mode in a sports game where every single thing is about you. Just a great way to personalize the experience and make your major championship imagination soar.

The online experience is an awesome way to replicate authentic tournament experiences with other players from around the world. In online societies, you can pick a few different groups to join, each with their own tournament schedule.

Some of these online societies do charge a fee (using in-game currency mind you) but most are free to join. HB Studios has their own official online societies you can join and enjoy right away.

They have certain groups based on skill level. So, if your in-game handicap is between 10 and 38, then you can join the Amateur Tour if you’d like. There’s also a pro society for you low handicapped gamers.

If you aren’t about skill, and just want to have some fun, HB has a great “one for all” society, where

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anyone and everyone can join. Currently, this society has well over 1,000 members.

There are also a couple of cool PGA Tour style societies, where they follow the real like tour schedule. However, to join these, you would need to empty your pockets a little (lint does not count).

Just like the career mode, each online society can level up their clubhouse to a fancier look. Playing in online society tournaments is a great way to rack up cash, and get your name in the spotlight if you win or finish in the top ten. It’s also a fun way to play with other golfers from around the globe.

Flags will be sitting right next to the name of players on the leaderboard, indicating which country they come from. This is just like how you see on TV, and it’s awesome to see where all the talented virtual golfers call home.

The cash you earn can also be used towards different clothing designs and club head styles. This gives you that extra motivation to play some great golf and make solid money.

Unleash your inner golf course designer

The course designer has become the TGC franchise’s most iconic feature and it has improved more in The Golf Club 2. Among new things you can add to courses include waterfalls, picket fences, camera towers, crowds and even buildings.

All of these things take one of the deepest creation modes in sports gaming history and makes it even richer. You can also create different tee positions and pin placement, things that weren’t in the previous installment.

There are also a couple of new themes to choose from with the Steppe and Rustic themes. The winter theme also returns, so you can design your winter wonderland of a golf course.

The designer is still rich with tools, as you can still sculpt greens, place bunkers, change fairway width, etc. Whatever you put your mind to, you can create it.

One of the best features of the new designer is the ability to import your courses from TGC 1 into TGC 2. So, if you import your old courses, you’ll have access to the new design tools to tweak out your courses further before republishing.

I was able to republish two of my courses from TGC1: the Pitch & Putt at Algonquin Park, and The Golf Club at Diamond Lake. A feature like this is instrumental, as the courses you worked so hard to create in TGC 1 aren’t going to rot in the virtual landscape.

As mentioned earlier, some folks even create mini golf courses. Here’s an example by user, Tastegw, a well-known designer within the TGC community.

It’s just an example of how deep the designer truly can get. There are some other non-traditional courses within the game as well, and it helps make the game what it is. A virtual golf adventure.

The Verdict

Overall, The Golf Club 2 is a shining example of a great golf game looks like. The overhaul in gameplay, customization options, a fresh way to enjoy career mode, and a fun, club style way to play online make TGC 2 a dandy.

To put it simply, it’s the best authentic golfing game on the market. It’s a game that has successfully combined the worlds of weekend warrior golf and tournament golf.

When you’re looking for a golf game on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, The Golf Club 2 is as good as it gets.

Final score: 9.5/10

Next: PGA TOUR Releases Fall Schedule for 2017-18

If you’ve played The Golf Club 2, let us know what you think about it on Twitter, or in the comments below!