11 Games That Prove Golf Is Gaming's Most Versatile Sport
Tee it up with these vastly different takes on a good walk spoiled
Golf has a long and storied history in video games. The first golf game - the enthusiastically titled Computer Golf! - was released in 1978 for the Magnavox Odyssey 2, and there’s been a steady stream of them ever since.
In my opinion, golf works so well in video game form, that it’s probably better than the real thing. No huge courses to create a detriment to the environment. No rich, snobby country clubs. No 6 AM tee-off times. Just hitting a small ball with a big stick into a hole that’s very far away, or in the case of mini golf, isn’t far away but has a windmill in front of it. It’s a simple yet satisfying thing that translates perfectly well as a game mechanic.
Most golf games aim for simulation or are a more cartoonish, arcadey version of the real thing. Some golf games take the core concept and go to weird and interesting places. This article is celebrating the latter - games that take golf and twist it into a completely new and different shape. Games that show how versatile virtual golf can be, or at least add robots or ninjas.
Golf but it’s a top-down RPG - Golf Story
Aussie devs Sidebar Games drew inspiration from Mario Golf: Advance Tour’s RPG-flavoured campaign to give the Switch an early indie hit with Golf Story. As well as having arcadey golf action, stats to gain, and gear to get, Golf Story lets you tee up anywhere in the world. This means that every problem can and will be solved with golf.
It’s silly, very charming, and filled with enough Australian flavour to make me feel patriotic.
Golf but it's slapstick comedy - What the Golf?
Your golfer is at the tee. You pull back your analogue stick to aim your shot and press A to swing… and your golfer flings forward instead of the ball. Welcome to What the Golf? - a comedy golf game where each hole provides an opportunity for a new gag.
It moves at a swift pace and frequently changes up its style and perspective to keep things fresh and funny. What the Golf? is a goofy and great time.
Golf but it’s a deckbuilding roguelike - Golfie
I’ve been playing this 3D minigolf take on the deckbuilding roguelike lately and have had a decent time with it. I agree with Joshua Gautreaux’s review of the game, which states that it’s fun but could use some improvements - and considering the frequency of updates since its launch, I wouldn’t be surprised if it irons out those wrinkles.
But it will have competition, as there’s a 2D golf roguelike coming out soon in the form of Cursed to Golf, which I previewed as part of our Steam Next Fest coverage.
Golf but you catapult frogs instead of hitting a ball - Ribbit King
Ribbit King is a quirky little PS2/Gamecube game from 2003 in which you play a sport called frolf - golf with frogs. Instead of cruelly whacking a frog with a club, you whack a catapult with a hammer to send it flying through the air and then hopping towards the hole.
Do not try this at home, but I would like to see someone make a modern interpretation of Ribbit King.
Golf but the ball is Kirby - Kirby’s Dream Course
Question: Would every sport be improved with the inclusion of Kirby? Based on the sole example, Kirby’s Dream Course for the SNES, the answer is yes. It’s a unique game - mini golf on an isometric perspective where you have to launch Kirby into every enemy on the stage before a hole appears to putt the pink puffball into.
The game holds up well with a surprising amount of depth and a fun multiplayer mode. Check it out on Switch Online’s SNES collection if you have it.
Golf but with giant mechs - 100ft Robot Golf
100ft Robot Golf is a madcap multiplayer golf game from No Goblin, the devs behind personal favourite, Roundabout.
The game is not unlike the recent Mario Golf: Super Rush in that golf is played in real-time with a race to the finish. The difference is that instead of Mario characters on golf courses, it’s 100-foot mechs in a skyscraper-filled city. And it’s commentated on by the McElroy brothers.
Golf but it’s also a sci-fi visual novel - Battle Golfer Yui
Battle Golfer Yui is a 1991 Japan-only Sega Genesis game that mixes a golf tournament with a ridiculous sci-fi visual novel. Thankfully it has a fan-made English patch because the premise is too bonkers to pass up.
The evil Professor G wants to take over the world using a golf tournament as a front for his true intentions. Your character, Yui, is kidnapped by Professor G as a part of his plan to brainwash golfers to join his side, but she escapes and sets out to win the tournament and save the day.
Tell me that doesn’t pique your interest.
Golf but you have to deal with a malevolent AI - Cheap Golf
Cheap Golf, on the surface, is a simple 2D mini golf game. The star of the game, however, is not the golf itself but Susan, the (fictional) AI that is watching your play, monitoring your mouse movements, and becoming ever more intelligent. It’s twisty and turny and recommended for anyone looking for a Portal-esue comedy game.
Golf but it’s in the dystopian ruins of Earth - Golf Club Wasteland
I recommended this one on my recent Steam sale post - it’s almost like I’m a big fan of unusual golf games.
Golf Club Wasteland is set in a dystopian world where Earth is just a golf course for the super-rich. Developer Demagog games take some swings at satirizing Trump-era politics, which are hit and miss, but the overall package is effective.
Golf but it’s a card-based puzzle game - Golf Peaks
Hey look, another golf game I’ve recommended before!
If you have the Itch Bundle for Ukraine, you already own this chilled-out, card-based puzzle game. Each card dictates a shot you play on the tiled-based holes, and you need to use up every card by the time you sink your last putt. It’s a clever little game that’s satisfying without getting too difficult.
Golf but it’s like that scene from Ninja III: The Domination - Ninja Golf
I can’t say for sure what the meeting at BlueSky Software where Ninja Golf was pitched looked like. However, I’m fairly sure it involves one of the team seeing Canon Films’ fantastically cheesy 1984 fantasy martial arts film Ninja III: The Domination, which famously features a scene where ninjas murder a bunch of people on a golf course. (Warning - violence)
In this Atari 7800 game, you are a ninja just trying to play a round of golf, but you have to continuously fight off other ninjas on the way to the green. Honestly, the best part of this game is its cover. Seriously, behold its majesty.
A Hole-In-One for Golf Games
These games show what you can do with the simple core premise such as golf. Even if you are put off by golf, there's bound to be something on this list worth your time, whether you're a fan of comedy, puzzles, RPGs, or frogs. There's a golf-themed game for nearly everyone.
And if you really hate golf that much, there's always Ninja III: The Domination.
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