I got to spend some time with a preview version of 2K’s upcoming PGA Tour 2K23 golf game.
Veteran Canadian outfit HB Studios, having cut their teeth developing many EA Sports titles, including PGA Tour Golf 2008, released The Golf Club in 2014. This was a fresh taste of video game golf following EA Sports’ dominance with their long-running PGA Tour franchise.
Following the developer’s successful follow-up, The Golf Club 2 and its VR spin-off, HB Studios teamed up with 2K Sports for The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA Tour. 2020 saw the developer and its 2K partner properly take over the PGA Tour mantle with PGA Tour 2K21. In 2021 HD Studio was purchased by 2K.
With only 48 hours to preview PGA Tour 2K23, I picked Canada’s St George’s Golf and Country Club, a new entry for this iteration, for a quick round. Forgoing the MyPlayer customisation, I took to the fairway.
Playing on PC, the first thing I noticed was how good the game looks. Going all the way back to 2014’s The Golf Club, HB Studios have never disappointed when it comes to visuals. But this time the lighting looks even better making some shots look almost photo-real. The overall presentation, as you’d expect from a 2K game, even for this preview, is polished and refined.
The commentary continues the dry wit and mild sarcasm that I enjoyed in PGA Tour 2K21. The commentator is quick to critique every shot you make, sharing your success and pointing out your failures in equal measure.
Playing with an Xbox controller, and swinging the clubs with the joystick, offers realistic control over the shot. My thumb movement directly translated to the accuracy of the swing. There is still the option for the traditional three-button presses to control shot power. Shots can be further refined by adding spin and adjusting ball height. There’s quite a depth to gameplay which should please veterans, but with plenty of assists for those new to the game.
PGA Tour 2K23 replicates the heartbreak of golf pretty well. Whilst the control system allows for the careful planning of each shot, the meticulously modelled course terrain allows for the perfect shot to become the stuff of nightmares as the ball rolls into the rough. Even on the putting green with the slightest inaccuracy the terrain can cause the ball to roll a considerable distance and into the rough. With many of St George’s holes positioned on grades, there were a few tears, accompanied by some cutting remarks from the commentator.
My time with PGA Tour 2K23 was short. But it was enough to get a good feel of the game. The customisation of the swing and the control over the shot takes away some of the randomness I’ve felt in the past with golf games, putting success and failure squarely on my shoulders.
PGA Tour 2K23 seems all about handing as much control over to the player to make the game feel as authentic as possible. 2K states that players will be able to customise their golf bag in the locker and equip their preferred gear according to their play style. Situational skills activate based on the situation, like which club you are using and performance on the fairway.
The game features deep player customisation with archetypes and a skill tree to unlock. There are also over 14 playable male and female pros in the game, including Tiger Woods, marking his return to the franchise.
There will be 20 courses available at launch, including new entries: the South Course of Wilmington Country Club, The Renaissance Club, and St. George’s Golf and Country Club. HB Studios’ incredible course designer also returns, almost a game in itself, to create an infinite number of custom courses on top of the licenced PGA locations.
I’m certainly looking forward to checking out PGA Tour 2K23 some more when it releases on the 24th of October.