The Golf Club 2019
HB Studios' The Golf Club franchise took its career mode forward in a big way when it signed the PGA Tour license. The tour – including preambles Q School and the Web.com Tour – culminates in the FedExCup Playoffs, but there's more to the career mode than just a sponsorship.
Six real-life courses are licensed (Summerlin, Scottsdale, Sawgrass, Southwind, Deere Run, and Boston), with more planned for after launch, but the tour's 32-course schedule also includes user-created courses. User-created courses are the foundation of the series, and it's cool that some talented creators are going to see their courses as part of the game's career mode in events big and small. HB Studios even talked to them in order to get information the developer could use to inform the commentary during the course flyovers at the beginning of an event.
Unfortunately, the courses themselves are set for a single PGA Tour season even though stats are kept for up to five seasons (you can play beyond that) and the golfers on the leaderboard will fare differently from year to year.
While you're playing on the tour you'll form rivalries with individual golfers. Points are accumulated for each event based on more than five categories. Whomever is the first to 20 points wins the rivalry. You can add some extra emotion to these rivalries and the tour in general by renaming the 300 golfers on the circuit.
HB Studios says it would like to add license real pros, but that is only a future possibility. The developer isn't planning to put out The Golf Club 2020, for example, on a yearly cue, so we'll have to wait and see how the franchise implements real pros if it happens.
The Golf Club 2019 is also adding a golfer level. This goes to 100, and each step up the ladder gives players cosmetic items (there is no boosting of golfer stats) and in-game currency used to bolster your golf society and/or use in multiplayer skins matches.
Leveling, along with season-long sponsorship goals, tie into the game's expanded customization options – which now included branded apparel from Under Armor, Tattoo Golf, Royal & Awesome, and Vice Golf. Each sponsor has three levels, and you can switch between them mid-stream for a slight tradeoff.
While golf societies won't change a whole lot for the game this year (the clubhouses you can purchase have been freshened up), multiplayer is bolstered by options like quick matchmaking with strangers over a curated course selection, as well as private matchmaking among friends where you'll have control over course conditions.
I played a couple rounds of the game, and didn't have too much trouble with getting the timing right on the backswing and for the speed of my followthrough, but I'll have to play more to get a better feel of the consistency of delicate finesse shots. Will I have the skills to hack in on the tour? I'm excited to find out.