PGA Championship Golf 2000 is currently the unrivaled king of golf sims.
The predecessor to Sierra Sports' PGA Championship Golf 2000, PGA Championship Golf 1999 Edition, finally achieved what many other PC golf sims have tried to do for nearly ten years. By stripping away unrealistic golf-sim conventions such as aiming flags and shot arcs and replacing them with a more true-to-life shot-setup mode and a great mouse-swing system, PGA Championship Golf 1999 delivered what computer-golf fans crave most: a simulation that mimics the experience of actually hitting the links for a round of golf as closely as possible.
After the disappointing Links LS 2000 and Activision's decision to nix the Jack Nicklaus series, the stage was set for the next installment in the PGA Championship Golf series to assume the mantle of golf-sim champ - and PGA Championship Golf 2000 does precisely that. It's true that the game could stand a bit of polish in a few areas - its graphics are still a hairbreadth short of the visuals in Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Challenge. But make no mistake: PGA Championship Golf 2000 is currently the unrivaled king of golf sims.
So how is it possible that such a fantastic golf sim carries a low $29.99 sticker price? The reason may in fact be the consequence of one of the game's few weak points - instead of paying for licenses to use real-life courses, Sierra Sports opted to augment the existing lineup of courses from the 1999 edition with five courses that were designed through the use of the PGA 2000 Course Architect. The five courses, set in environments from cactus-filled deserts and breezy coastal peninsulas to gently rolling forests, feature their own unique and significant challenges. So it's hard to complain - especially when you consider that all the user-created courses available for the 1999 edition work with this new version and that more will be created through the use of the new Course Architect. Still, it would have been nice if Sierra had found a way to add at least one or two famous venues.
However, regardless of which courses you play, you'll continually appreciate the quality of the 3D-rendered terrain. Instead of the flat 2D trees typical of other golf sims, the trees in PGA 2000 appear so lifelike at higher resolutions that you might be tempted to walk over and take a rest under one. From the fairways to the roughs, most everything in PGA Championship 2000 looks like the real deal (though the authentic courses do look slightly better than the ones created with the Course Architect). Shadows from trees are also accurately rendered, though you'll notice that the trees, unlike the flags, never seem to move in the wind.
About the only aspect of the game's graphics that could stand a little work is in the rendering of water - compared to the reflective surfaces found in Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Challenge, the wet stuff in PGA Championship 2000 appears to be almost solid. You might also spot an occasional graphical glitch, such as the ball turning dark or even tiger-striped, but these are so sporadic (and usually remedied by simply exiting the game and restarting) that they're not worth mentioning at greater detail.
You won't find two dozen game types of a Links LS in PGA Championship Golf 2000, but all your favorite ways of playing are available, including stroke, match, skins, scramble, and a variety of best-ball variations. Length of rough, green speed, and wind conditions can all be adjusted, as can rules such as mulligans and gimmies. There's also a "readyplay" option that lets you go ahead and take your next shot regardless of who's farthest away or where your opponent (human or computer) is on the hole.