In my head, The Golf Club looked just like Links 2004 on the original Xbox. That's until I looked at footage of Links 2004 on YouTube. In reality, Links 2004 is visually more appealing than The Golf Club. Links 2004 is over 10 years old. I was playing The Golf Club on Xbox One.
HB Studios' sim is essentially a swing mechanic bolted onto a course creator. The core system of using an analogue stick to mimic a golfer's swing, as seen in practically every game since its introduction in Tiger Woods 2000, is present. There's no magical post-swing spin function here, meaning there's a greater emphasis on working out the best plan of action and implementing it successfully. You can cycle through the usual shot types, tweak ball striking with shot modification, and that's it.
There are a selection of pre-built courses, designed by the developers, but these aren't anything remarkable, and certainly don't come close to the real-world recreations seen in EA's series. The hope is that greatness will come from players, which is certainly possible, but the fruits of the creation tools are yet to be seen.
By far the easiest course creation option is to let the game auto generate things for you, with players left to decide the base environment type, along with tree and water density, and difficulty level. The course then builds in front of your eyes, in what might be the only mildly impressive spectacle the game has the offer - even if the frame rate takes a dive when the tree count rises.
Aside from the user-generated content, The Golf Club is hoping to win people over with its social features and online play. Competing against ghost players or with friends online is nothing revolutionary, but being able to join tours is neat and the implementation is solid.
The Golf Club is functional. That is a huge plus for many people wanting to do away with the flash and gimmicks found in EA's golf series, but this isn't an excuse for the presentation to be as sloppy as it is.
Version Tested: Xbox One