Outlaw Golf was the literal game-changer when it came to golf games. Released in 2002 on PC, PS2, Xbox and the GameCube, this was the next best thing after PGA Tour Golf for the Amiga. FACT.
Now, 20 years later, the sport remains as mundane as I’ve always found it, but a handful of golf games of late have changed things up. Be it multiplayer mayhem in Golf With Friends, existential narratives in Golf Club: Wasteland, rogue-like qualities in Cursed To Golf, and absolute absurdity in What The Golf?
Here’s a list of 5 of the best golf games (in my opinion), albeit alternative ‘interpretations’ of the conventional 18-hole walking simulator.
Cursed To Golf (PS5)
The game that inspired a change of the homepage thumbnail by adding a new feature, I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of Chuhai Labs’ debut and pretty damn close to saying this is the best golf game I’ve personally played.
Chiptunes throughout gameplay, cutesy graphics and hard-as-nails gameplay wouldn’t usually feature at the top of the list, but within the first couple of runs, it’s clear this is an addictive game for all the right reasons. With just three clubs to choose from and simple controls, the focus is on mastering geometry (and your patience levels), making for a very entertaining game.
The only downside, if we’re to call it that, is the lack of rewards for progression. There aren’t any improvements to your swing other than the fantastic aftertouch applied to a shot and the ace cards, but they’re per run. Despite all this, yes, I may just as well commit to it: Cursed To Golf is my favourite golf game.
What The Golf? (Switch)
Coming close to Cursed To Golf is What The Golf? from Triband. This game is unlike any other and absolutely mental, but for all the right reasons. In some ways, it’s a little like taking a golf game, chucking it in a blender with WarioWare, some Dali paintings, lots of alcohol and a rubber chicken. The result is this game.
Sounds bad? Far from it. What The Golf? is so much fun as it breaks all the rules while making it fun. The real challenge in this game isn’t about getting the ball in the hole under par but working out what you have to do. Who needs balls when they can play with a TV?
There are 100s of levels in this game, and though a few similar designs creep in, they’re all unique and keep you on your toes. A brilliant party game but also fun in solo mode, What The Golf? is clearly a different take on the sport and, dare I say, much, much better than PGA Tour Golf on the Amiga. Take that 1991!
Golf Club: Wasteland (PS4)
Irrespective of the golf theme, Golf Club: Wasteland from Demagog Studio and Untold Tales was very memorable, having one of the best soundtracks for a game, in my opinion. That’s not just the music but the commentary too.
Yes, there are other titles like Golf Story with a narrative (I assume…), but it’s rare to see something like this in a sports game that is so intriguing. The courses in the game are played on an abandoned Earth, and it really sets the tone – and challenge.
Much like the later Cursed To Golf, the mechanics in Golf Club: Wasteland are once again very straightforward but take a bit of time to master. Expect some frustration as the ball bounces out of play once more, or you find you’re teeing off a balcony on a highrise and have no idea how to finish under par. Again, highly recommended.
Golf With Your Friends (PS4)
What good is a game of golf without anyone to play with? Golf With Your Friends is precisely that, though you can attempt to make friends with strangers in online play. Personally? I only play local games, and this was enjoyable playing in the living room with controllers.
Unlike the mediocre four-player games we’re used to, Golf With Your Friends is a whopping 12 players all in the game simultaneously. Granted, it’s turn-based, so you can cheat a bit and watch how the others do it.
You might be getting your pants in a twist that this isn’t proper golf, but as stated, these aren’t the conventional ones, and the focus here is mini golf. In terms of fun, it’s there with some great courses, ‘power-ups’ and features such as swapping out the ball for other objects, but what is worth mentioning are the lengthy holes. That’s not a bad thing, but if you’re playing in a big group of impatient people, it can get a little monotonous. 2-4 players? Great!
Outlaw Golf (Xbox)
No, I don’t really cover retro, even though I have most systems, but I can’t not include the game that changed it all for me. Outlaw Golf was so much fun and pretty high up on the Xbox playlist with Enclave, Jade Empire and Project Gotham Racing.
There’s no best version, just system preference, but if you don’t mind walking the sweaty aisles of CEX (Gamestop is the alternative in the US?), skip the prices for the next-gen stuff and see if you can pick this up for the original Xbox, PS2, GameCube or even PC. I no longer have the Xbox, but managed to get it on GameCube in excellent condition.
Essentially it’s a golf game aimed at gamers who like dick and fart jokes and, given the opportunity, would most likely hit the ball (even on the green) as hard as possible. This game reinvented the significance of the power gauge, stripper golfers and a running commentary from none other than Gru himself – Steve Carell. Ah… 2002…