In the world of PC sports gaming, golf games are kind of like the royal family - first to arrive, cultured over time to a high level of sophistication, and currently resting on their laurels. Microsoft Golf is a perfect example. Using the exact same game engine and add-on courses as the terrific Links series from Access, this game is fun, challenging and easy to get into. It does not, however, bring anything particularly new to the table.
The question is, then, do we want anything new? As certain members of the British royal family has recently proven, doing something new (adultery, phone sex and divorce) may not be the best way to endear oneself to the public. Taking that lesson to heart, Microsoft Golf's designers focused on the elements of a great golf game without going overboard on the bells and whistles.
And as far as golf games go, this is one of the best. From the smooth interface and fast redraws to catchy voiceovers, putting grids, fly-bys and tips, Microsoft Golf will see to it that your round of golf is enjoyable, immersive, and, perhaps most important, quick. One minor problem: it's next to impossible to develop consistency when chipping from around the greens - but most golf pros will tell you chipping is one of the hardest parts of the game.
Replays from normal and reverse angles let you decide whether to play a mulligan or save the replay for later viewing. (See - now you've got a way to prove all those golf stories you've been telling.) You can play against a friend or the computer, or log onto the PlayerNet for long distance modem battles. And for those who crave variety, Microsoft Golf is one of the few golf simulations that comes complete with two different courses, both of which are very good.