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In-Depth Review

Tiger Woods PGA Tour

I have been playing games on my iPhone for as long as there have been games for the iPhone and I have to say that Tiger Woods PGA Tour (TWPGAT hereafter) is one of my all-time favorites. And since I hold games priced at ten bucks*, like TWPGAT, to a much higher standard than games that cost a buck or two, that's saying a lot. Furthermore, even after many hours of enjoyable play, I haven't yet finished the entire tour.  

One of the things that makes this game enjoyable is the sheer variety of options it offers. For example, there are seven highly-detailed PGA golf courses: Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, Doral, TPC Sawgrass, Fancourt, The K Club, and TPC Boston. You can choose to play any course or play them all as part of a PGA tournament. When choosing to play a specific course you can play all 18 holes, just the front or back 9, random holes, or your choice of specific holes. You can have from 1 to 4 players, human or CPU. You can choose different game types such as Stroke Play, Match Play, Skins, Stableford, Modified Stableford, and Shootout. You can play alone or on a team. And you can spend your some of your winnings on upgrades to your golfer's equipment and skills. It all adds up to many hours of game play without much (if any) repetition. 

Another thing I really liked was that it wasn't difficult to learn how to play, but it took quite some time to learn to play decently. At first the best I could do on most holes was a double or triple bogey. Over time I developed more skill and eventually got my handicap down to 0, which is the best rating a golfer can have.  

One of the things that made it easy to learn was that there are excellent tutorials as well as tips that appear before every shot.

Tiger Woods Tutorial

Tiger Woods Tip 1

Tiger Woods Tip 1

Each hold starts with a flyover so you can see the entire hole and what you're up against. The detail is surprising for an iPhone game, but you can tap the screen if you want to skip the overview and just give the ball a smack.

Tiger Woods Flyover

When you address the ball before a shot, you'll see a screen that looks something like this: 

Tiger Woods Shooting

Here's what all the features are moving clockwise from the top left.

  • Top Left: Golfer name and bankroll. 
  • Top Center: Wind speed (6 mph) and direction (silver triangle) 
  • Top Center: Optimal swing strength (95%) and elevation (landing area 1 yard lower than where you're hitting from)
  • Top Right: Hole number and par for hole. 
  • Lower Right: Where you are (tee) and your lie (100% = perfect).
  • Lower Right: Show overhead view; change aim (circle that looks like a target).
  • Lower Center: Show swing meter (little golfer silhouette in circle).
  • Lower Left: Distance to hole ((563 Yards); Swing type (Full in this picture; could also be flop, chip, putt); and club selected (DRiver).  

When you're ready to hit, tap the show swing meter icon and you'll see one of the best interfaces I've seen in a touch screen game and perhaps the biggest reason this game is so much fun and has so much replay value. To hit the ball you drag your finger from the top of the swing meter (shown below) toward the bottom, stopping at the approximate distance you wish to hit the ball, then drag your finger back upward to the top of the meter. 

Tiger Woods Swing

There's a lot to this swing meter. First of all, it requires the proper up and down rhythm and speed. You can also cause the ball to hook or slice by curving your upward swipe to the left or right. Finally, after the ball is in the air, you can put some spin on it by swiping madly across the screen in the direction you want the ball to spin. Once you get the hang of it you'll be able to hit the ball pretty much anywhere you like most of the time, kind of like real golf. 

Putting is also a pleasure due to the putting interface and caddy tip, which help you gauge where to aim and how hard to hit the ball. Simply drag the little aiming circle (shown below with two orange arrows above it) to where you want your shot to go based on the contours of the green (as shown by the grid) and the caddy tip (displayed on the left side of the screen).  

Tiger Woods Putt

Once you've moved the circle to where you think the ball should be aimed, you can tap the little white caddy icon in the lower left corner to enable the "CaddyCam," which shows you precisely where your putt will go given the current location of the aiming circle. Be careful -- you can only use the CaddyCam once per shot.  

Tiger Woods CaddyCam

After looking at where the CaddyCam says your shot is going to go (a little past and a little bit right of the hole in the image above), you can adjust the aiming circle again before you putt. Again, once you get used to it you can make most of your short and medium length putts most of the time. Longer putts, as in real life, are somewhat harder to sink consistently. 

If you make a good (or great) shot or putt, a couple of things will occur. The first is that you will be rewarded in cash. In the picture below I've hit my tee shot onto the green, collecting $400 for that and an additional $200 for hitting a great tee shot (drive). 

Tiger Woods Payout

The other thing is that will happen is that the commentators -- former pro golfer Sam Torrance and The Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman -- will compliment you on your fine shot. If you get sick of them, you can turn them off. 

If I have one complaint about TWPGAT it's that the commentary does become repetitive after a while. Fortunately, the game offers separate controls for the commentary, sound effects, and music volume, so you can shut it off when you get sick of it as you probably will. 

* Note that TWPGAT is currently on sale for $6.99 though I don't know how much longer it'll be available at that price.  

The Bottom Line

Tiger Woods PGA Tour is one of the most enjoyable iPhone/iPod touch games I've ever played. I've put in dozens of hours already and still find myself wanting to play again and again. Considering the cost of a movie, book, DVD, decent meal, and so on, TWPGAT is a bargain even at its "regular" price of $9.99.

Just The Facts

Pros:

Variety, more variety, myriad options, beautiful graphics, great interface.

Cons:

Commentary gets a bit repetitive.

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