‘PGA Tour 2K21’ review: The good and bad of the best golf game in years

With sports beginning to return and the golf season in full swing, fans are looking for a way to feel closer to the game. With the release of “PGA Tour 2K21,” they now have that outlet. 2K Games and HB Studios have combined to provide golf fans with a realistic experience on gaming consoles. HB Studios produced the popular video game franchise “The Golf Club” in the past and left their mark on “PGA Tour 2K21.”

Creating a player has become a very popular game mode in sports games thanks to the success of “NBA 2K” and “Madden.” “PGA Tour 2K21” is no different and gamers can create their own likeness to take on the PGA Tour field. The field that players will face throughout their PGA Tour season include cover athlete Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau just to name a few. While the majority of the game is focused on your created player, the camera does pan to amazing shots from the competition throughout your round of play. While golf tournaments are typically four rounds, you can choose to have anywhere from one to four rounds for each tournament. You can begin playing in amateur tournaments or simply jump right into the PGA Tour. 

As far as the courses go, it’s a pretty impressive selection of PGA Tour courses that players get to golf on. Among the courses that gamers will play on are TPC Sawgrass (site of The Players Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), TPC Boston (The Northern Trust), and TPC Scottsdale (Waste Management Phoenix Open). The backdrop graphics are pretty impressive and provide some excellent scenery when you’re on the tee getting ready to drive.

Like many games, it begins with a tutorial on the many different aspects of how to play. It shows how to hit excellent tee shots, how to putt and the different types of clubs that are in each player’s bag. If you haven’t played many golf games in the past, it’s probably a good idea to start on an easier difficulty (as I found out) and increase it as you get more comfortable with the ins and outs of the game.

Here’s a deeper dive into my takeaways from “PGA Tour 2K21.”

What I Liked

Driving

Obviously, the tee shots is a huge factor in golf as it could set up how the hole will work out for a given player. The driving mechanism is a lot of fun and fairly easy to get the hang of after a few attempts. In playing the game on Xbox One, tapping the “Y” button brings up a more detailed map of the course and allows you to get a closer look of where you want the ball to go. On your initial drive, you’re obviously hoping to hit the ball onto the fairway and this definitely helps rather than just blinding swinging your club. Fading and drawing the ball to get around obstacles such as trees is also both easy and enjoyable. After getting the hang of it, I found that I was able to find the fairway on the large majority of occasions.


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Career mode

As mentioned above, career modes have become insanely popular in sports video games franchises in recent years. You begin with the option of playing amateur tournaments or moving right onto the PGA Tour. You can customize your golfer’s appearance to get him or her to like exactly like you if you desire. While mine wasn’t insanely accurate, it’s still a fun aspect of the game. As you play in each tournament, you are given course-specific objectives such as finishing par or better on that specific hole or driving the ball a certain distance and landing on the fairway. If those objectives are successfully completed, you receive XP that you can spend on items such as clothing, spikes and clubs for your golf bag. The courses that you play throughout the season are pretty realistic and feel very real. This is definitely one of the more fun career modes that I’ve played in a game recently.

Course creation

This is one of the coolest features that ‘PGA Tour 2K21’ has. You can create your own course from scratch and play on it. You can do anything from determining the amount of trees on the course to the amount of water hazards that players will encounter. While it may seem mindless to some, it’s pretty cool to be able to try your hand at sculpting your own course then getting a chance to play on it.

What I Didn’t Like

No LPGA golfers

In the most recent edition of “NBA 2K20,” gamers had the option of playing as WNBA teams for the first time in the franchise’s history. It would’ve been an awesome edition if some pro female golfers were placed into “PGA Tour 2K21.” Perhaps stars like Michelle Wie and Ko Jin-young could’ve made an appearance in the game. It could also expand the audience that may want to purchase the game. In the career mode, you can create a female golfer, but some of the pros on the LPGA tour still should be available to play as.

Putting

Putting is an area of the game that takes a little while to get used to. Like actual golf, you have to judge a hole by the terrain that you are playing on. On some holes, you can putt the ball straight and it’ll go right in without any hassle. However, there are some where you have to adjust your putt a bit because the terrain curves. I certainly struggled out of the gate and missed several short putts early on, but it gets more comfortable the more you play.


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