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9 Best Golf Video Games Of All Time

Golf video games have changed so much over the years, from pixelated DOS games to the ultra-realistic PlayStation 5 versions. There have been some excellent releases, but which golf games stand out and which game is rated the best? 

The 9 best golf video games ever are:

  • Links 2003
  • PGA Tour 96
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014
  • Hot Shots Golf World Invitational
  • Tiger Woods PGA 12 – The Masters
  • The Golf Club 2019 – Featuring The PGA Tour
  • Rory McIlroy PGA Tour
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004
  • PGA Tour 2K21

Some may argue that golf games should be reserved for simulation. In contrast, many would agree that one of the greatest parts of gaming is putting unique spins on the game of golf, with many video game publishers delivering these fantastic experiences in abundance.

Below, I analyze why these are some of the best golf video games. They are incredible for their unique way of using and presenting golf in video game form.

Let’s explore the best video golf games of all time right now!

Best Golf Video Games

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The Best Golf Video Games Of All Time

In the list below, I’ll review the 9 best golf video games ever, according to their ratings, and include some gameplay facts for each game.

1. Links 2003

  • Publisher – Microsoft
  • Platform – Microsoft Windows
  • Metacritic score 82/100

Released in September 2002, Links 2003 offered improved graphics and overall gameplay for the PC. Links 2003 was the first game to view your shot from different observing angles and have a 3D green analyzer. The game offered beautifully rendered terrain and 3D characters for that time, which was a considerable step up from the previous release.

Links 2003 included six golf courses and featured David Toms and Feper Parnevik as two of the four pro-golfers. The inclusion of the Arnold Palmer Course Designer was a hit for most gamers as they could now be in the position to design the course of their dreams.

The overall gameplay of the game was good, and it had features like a two or three-click swing option with power-stroke features. A new addition to this was the TRS (Real-Time Swing) which the player could control with the mouse. Links 2003 had six-game modes, best ball, Nassau, scramble, skins, match, and stroke.

When it was released, Links 2003 was a great golf game and was nominated for several awards, but unfortunately did not manage to win any. Overall, Links 2003 was brilliant at the time, but other titles quickly surpassed it.

2. PGA Tour 96

  • Publisher – EA Sports
  • Platform – PlayStation, Game Boy, 3DO, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, SNES, MS-DOS
  • EGN Score – 8.75/10

The first golf game released on the PlayStation platform, PGA Tour 96, offered a massive jump in graphics over the old 16-bit consoles. The graphics are nothing to talk about compared to today’s consoles, but it was good at the time.

The game only offered two courses, Spyglass Hill and TPC at River Highlands. There are 14 PGA pros to play with, or you can create your golfer with various animations.

The game utilizes the 3 click swing system common in most games, and players will need to aim with a standard target arcing, but the catch is you can not see where the ball will land, making it similar to real golf.

PGA Tour 96 will be enjoyed by amateur golf enthusiasts and professional armchair golfers alike. The game brings back great memories for all veteran console gamers.

3. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014

  • Publisher – EA Sports
  • Platform – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Metacritic rating – 77/100

Tiger Woods PGA 2014 is a more streamlined game and offers all the great features of the Tiger Woods franchise. The 2014 edition features some golden-era golf moments dating back to the 1930s that you can recreate for additional rewards.

The gameplay for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014 is pretty much the same since the release of The Masters. The main gaming difference comes with the caddy only assisting you in practice but not on game day.

The unique sentiment of bringing back the golden years of golf makes this release stand out. Add in the easy-to-use swing controls and the game’s excellent graphics, make it worth playing, and it will keep you busy for a while!

Tiger Woods
Instagram: @tigerwoods

4. Hot Shots Golf World Invitational

  • Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Platform – PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3
  • Metacritic Rating – 76/100

The Hot Shots Golf series combines cartoonish characters with fun and accurate gameplay. This game will bring a smile to any hardcore gamer. The game is virtually untouched from previous releases, only offering minor character changes.

Being a golf game with a fun element, it will keep you playing for several entreating hours.

The gameplay for Hot Shots Golf is a simple tap three times to hit the ball and options to input a slice, hook, or backspin. The characters are the real fun, each with their own quirkiness and skills.

A player will still have to contend with the wind, sloped greens, and the odd rain shower, but overall, you will feel like you are playing a golf game in all aspects of the game.

The game starts very easily, and as you progress, you will notice the difficulty increase substantially but in a fun, entertaining way. Playing the game in easy mode does not simplify the courses but instead makes your opponents less of a threat.

Overall, Hot Shots Golf World Invitational will provide many fun-filled hours of gaming and will push you to lower your golf score every time you play. The game may be comical, but the golf play elements will rival most golf simulators.

5. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 – The Masters

  • Publisher – EA Sports
  • Platform – PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
  • Metacritic Rating – 80/100

A golf game where you can win the green jacket is what Tiger Woods PGA – The Masters is all about. The game might be themed around the major tournaments, but there are many other things to do like becoming a pro with the Q-Schools, disk golf, party games, and mini-golf.

Besides playing the career mode, there are options to recreate nine different “Master Moments” from past tournaments or play Tiger Woods’s Masters Wins. The extras are well thought out around the Augusta National course and are armchair fun.

The game mechanics are similar to the previous version with the addition of having your own caddy. Before every shot, the caddy will supply you with advice or motivation to play a perfect round. The in-game characteristics are still there, such as spin and power shots. 

The standard power-ups that have become popular in this series are still included but are more based on the tournament at hand.

Tiger Woods PGA 12 is a truly great game that all gaming golfers will enjoy. The game offers motion controls in the PlayStation and Wii versions, which will add to the fun elements of this game.

6. The Golf Club 2019 Featuring The PGA Tour

  • Publisher – 2K Sports
  • Platforms – Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Metacritic Rating – 80/100

The first PGA licensed game from 2K Sports, The Golf Club 2019, features six world-class golf courses in the career mode with a memorable journey to the top of the rankings. A total of 32 events will have you glued to your seat, and the commentary will give you a significant boost in confidence as you progress.

The game offers the same player customizations as most games, with upgrades, equipment, and sponsorship deals.

The Golf Club 2019 goes a little beyond expectations in the game mechanics as they are fluid and precise, allowing you accurate shot control. Still, you are severely punished for a lousy shot, so playing safe is recommended in weird wind scenarios.

The swing dynamics of the game are sound and easy to master but putting will test your skills. Viewing the undulation of the greens is easy to view, but judging the correct line and speed takes practice.

The Golf Club 2019 featuring the PGA Tour remains a good challenge for even the most experienced golfers, but that is what makes playing this game so much fun. The realism of the whole package is excellent, and you will feel like a pro when you get your first eagle.

7. Rory McIlroy PGA Tour

  • Publisher – Electronic Arts
  • Platform – PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Metacritic Rating – 61/100

Rory Mcilroy PGA Tour utilizes a new engine compared to previous game releases. EA uses the Frostbite 3 engine developed by DICE. The engine significantly reduced load time which was great compared to other games. New commentators also brought a fresh feel to the in-game presentation, which is a much-needed change.

New gameplay changes and assists offer a new challenge to fans of the franchise. The game has three swing modes that can be toggled during the game, allowing for a more customizable gameplay experience. 

Hitting golf balls in a dance club in the nightclub challenge was a nicely thought out idea and provided some extra fun from the serious career mode.

The game includes eight real-world courses, Bay Hill, Chambers Bay, St Andrews, TPC Bostin, and Wolf Creek, to name a few. The Masters tournament does not feature in the game, which is sorely missed in this release.

Even though the game received some backlash from critics, it is a great game to play. The graphics are good, with a glitch here and there, but nothing too serious. EA knew it was taking a risk continuing without Woods, but they might have just pulled it off.

Rory McIlroy
Instagram: @rorymcilroy

8. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004

  • Publisher – EA Sports
  • Platform – GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, N-Gage
  • Metacritic Rating – 89/100

The Tiger Woods franchise has always been one to look forward to in the past, but Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 took most golf gaming enthusiasts’ breath away. It was loaded with great new features and improved on the already good 2003 game.

The new features included a game face mode to upload your face on your character, new game modes like battle golf and alternate shot, and many more.

The 52-week PGA calendar can be played in Tour mode, and there are fifteen pros and twelve unique fantasy characters to choose from in the game. The game combines the arcade and simulation worlds nicely together and creates a joyful playing experience.

The game is challenging for amateurs and pros alike, and upgrading your character is quick. The pro shop has over a thousand items for personalizing your character, and each item will add to the player’s attributes. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 opened the door to customization seen in so many games today.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 was fun to play on the PS2 back then, but while the graphics were good, they are nothing compared to today’s standards. The game really proved what could be done in a golf game, so we owe a lot to this title!

9. PGA Tour 2K21

  • Publisher – 2K Sports
  • Platform – Stadia, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Metacritic Rating – 72/100

PGA Tour 2K21 fixed all the bugs from The Golf Club 2019 and delivered a more realistic golfing experience than ever before. The game does have a few wasted opportunities, such as not having any LPGA events or players and that you can not play as any of the pro golfers.

When first starting the game, you create your golfer and then proceed to a short training session. The swing controls are straightforward to use and give you great control of your shots. There are no real character upgrades, but the game relies on the player’s timing and precision for a great shot.

The PGA Tour 2K21 is an awe-inspiring game. It allows you to personalize almost all the aspects of the course, from green speeds, tee positions, difficulty, and fairway firmness and all the settings are immediately noticeable.

The greens will make you work for birdy, as they can be tricky. A new preview system will show you the correct line, but you are limited to the number of previews. 

The game has fifteen real-world championship courses that you must master and an additional 17 courses to play. 

Overall, PGA Tour 2K21 is probably the best golf video game to be released in 2021. There could be some minor changes to the game, but they will possibly correct that in the next release. The game is tremendously fun and relaxing to play. PGA Tour 2K21 is a must-play title for all golfing gamers.

Let’s Wrap This Up!

Although the above list is my personal choice of the best golf video games and a celebration of the relaxed and serious categories that golf games can be packaged in, it is up to you to decide which of these golf games appeal to your individual gaming preferences.

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