Got a fancy new VR headset and looking for something to play? Clear some space and secure that controller tight, it’s time for some Golf. The Golf Club VR adds a whole new dimension to HB Studio’s original The Golf Club. Still being new to the VR scene, I was glad to give it a go. Thankfully, a collared shirt and goofy pants aren’t required. That’s a good thing though, since wearing the Vive looks goofy enough.
Some games and genres seem tailor made for VR. Golf certainly fits the bill as it has long ago lent itself to different types of VR. However, we are now able to enjoy that experience in our home, without spending several thousand dollars on projectors, screens and a hit box at least. First word of caution though, make sure you do have plenty of space. There will be plenty of swinging of arms. Making full use of the controller strap is also well advised.
The game starts off with a very well done tutorial. It will guide you through all the basics. This is also a good place to get some practice in. Once the tutorial is completed and familiarization of the controls is complete, it’s time to hit the links. Also note that initial club length and difficulty can be set in the tutorial the first time around. The 4 different difficulties will determine the amount of assistance to give for an enjoyable experience.
Stepping up to the tee for the first time is quite the experience. It certainly feels as if you are there with a giant leaderboard looming large right behind the tee. Walking over to the bag, I selected my club and prepared to tee-off. Unless there is plenty of space as mentioned previously, I’d recommend using the teleport function. It may be hard to not physically take steps at first, that bag is close but just out of reach, but after a few tussles with the couch and other things in the room, you’ll start teleporting more often.
Not being an avid golfer anymore, there were more than a few swings and misses. That’s ok though, no one is counting those, no need to say “Just a practice swing”. The assists on the casual setting which I chose seemed to work very well, only one or two times did I majorly slice a drive. Having shot balls into the dividers at a driving range on several occasions, I can safely say that sometimes no amount of assists are going to help some of those shots. It did take some time, but once I was able to align what the game wanted me to do and what I wanted to do, things went a lot smoother.
While VR can be used for straight up simulation, there are also some rather neat features in The Golf Club VR. Tilting your controller hand towards you, as if to look at a wrist watch, brings up a handy display screen. Here you can do a quick check of the current stroke count, distance to the pin, wind direction and speed among other things. Not sure of the layout of the hole? Reach in your back pocket and grab the clipboard. Hit one into the water? That’s going to require going into the bag and grabbing another ball. These are all some rather nice little touches that just add to an enjoyable experience. If you are the type to have anger issues, feel free to throw a club, I know I threw some at a fox that came strolling by on the course.
The gameplay seems rather good. The ball seemed to go where it should have. The assists did a good job of keeping the ball straight-ish on the drives. Of course, this is all going to be a bit relative to personal experience in real life and the difficulty setting. While being poor at driving, I play a mean short to medium game. This may have resulted in some unexpected results, especially while chipping with the ball traveling much farther than the club’s expected range. It is still being worked on in Early Access though, so things can and will change. Personally, I could go for some sort of adaptive difficulty giving more assistance to clubs that I would need the most and less to those which I am reasonably proficient.
That does bring us to putting. I imagine this may be a difficult area for users. I found it extremely difficult to gauge exactly how much power to use. Reading the green is relatively easy, but I did feel like a clumsy giant fiddling around trying to find the range. The margin for error between far too much power and not anywhere close to enough seems rather small. Although, just like with the real thing, practice makes perfect.
Overall, so far I would say that I have really enjoyed The Golf Club VR. It really does seem like a natural use for the technology. Even if golf is not something that would normally entice you, it is still a great VR title and something worth giving a shot. I look forward to seeing where this goes as it gets closer to release, now it’s time to get in one last round for the day.
The Golf Club VR is currently on Steam as an Early Access title.