Why arcade golf games like Mario Golf are superior to golf sims

by Andrew Kulp

The magic of video games is you can do things you could never do in real life. For most people, going golfing is not one of those things.

No, this is not a takedown of golf games. The Everybody's Golf franchise has been in regular rotation for me and among my circle of friends going all the way back to Hot Shots Golf 3 on PS2, and Mario Golf: Super Rush -- out Friday for the Nintendo Switch -- is a game I'm very much considering plunking down the $60 for. We don't play golf all the time, but I can't tell you how many nights we've randomly decided to get in 18 holes.

I love golf games. This is a takedown of golf sims.

There's always that one person in the group who has to be like, "If you think this is good, you should try Tiger Woods" -- or, more recently, PGA 2K -- and spoil a good time with their lifelike physics and real courses and professionals. Well, shame on you! We're trying to have a good time here, not watch the digital grass grow on Pebble Beach.

Listen, I realize golf is a popular sport, and this is the part where I remind everybody to each their own. Maybe you really want the experience of playing on the tour or as your favorite pro. I even see some limited appeal in being able to experience Augusta National, for example, a beautiful course I'd never be able to set foot on in any capacity other than as an observer. And it does need to be said that there are people who can't play a real game of golf, whether due to physical or monetary limitations, so it's nice there's another way everybody can enjoy the sport.

But I play video games to escape from real life, and if I wanted to hit the links and get sweaty, dirty and sunburned while duffing my way around a field for four hours, I'd pack a cooler full of "cold sodas" and go do just that.

Read more: How my dad helped me beat Wario in Mario Golf

Image credit: Nintendo

When I'm sitting around my living room, I want an arcade-y experience free of the frustration and solemnity of an actual golf course -- or at least greatly reduces those feelings. I want to laugh. I want to do the impossible!

Basically, I want to feel like I'm playing a game, not hanging out in a library.

And, no, it's not the same with other sports. Playing Madden or NBA 2K is an entirely different animal when you're leading your hometown team to the Super Bowl or championship or taking control over future Hall of Famers like Tom Brady and LeBron James. Or maybe it's NASCAR, where you're getting behind the wheel of a race car and tinkering with the mechanics.

Those are abilities the average person will never have! That's what gaming is all about! I mean, sure, I'll never shoot under par on the golf course, either. However, I will occasionally hit a shot that lands on the fairway or green after traveling some not-insignificant distance. For a fleeting moment, I can be an actual golfer.

Games like Mario Golf are awesome because they incorporate components central to the sport such as its rules, club selection, wind and lie. It's still a competitive experience, but the action is simplified and the mood lightened enough where anybody can pick it up and start enjoying themselves within minutes. You don't have to golf or even particularly like golf -- and if you do, there's usually enough depth where the game is not too silly or easy.

Sure, golf sims serve a purpose, too. Yet the Golden Tees of the world are for a very limited group who are only interested in experiencing the sport. The colorful arcade-style golf games of the world are inclusive of all gamers and, therefore, are superior.

Lead image credit: Nintendo

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