The appearance of golf simulations on console systems - platforms normally associated with blood-splattering, bullet-train action games - is an interesting phenomenon. After hours of dismantling punks with a handcannon, does the average console gamer really want to load up a peaceful respite on the links? Apparently so. And the success of PGA Tour 96, one of the most popular golf games to travel through the fairway, is a testament to this fact. But it's tough to score a golf game, especially after you just eviscerated some dude on your screen. What is there to say about a golf game? I mean, it's golf. But when it comes down to it, video game golf (though it may yank you by your pale-yellow Polo collar back to the unbearable ennui of those sedated Sundays, leaning over a cylinder of Pringles in front of the TV), has an unexplainable air of intensity to it. The gameplay in PGA Tour 97, though a tad on the dull side at times, is still calming in the way you'd expect a golf game to be, and (like its predecessor) is fairly challenging. The graphics may not be as glassy-smooth as the Playstation version, but avid fans of console golf games will still wish they had a putter to crack over their knees when they miss that critical shot for par.
PGA Tour 97 is more or less an updated revisit to PGA Tour 96. At the start screen you choose a play mode and a player who's based on an amateur or professional personality. Two new championship courses are available to play through. Each of these has its own ambiance, from the woodsy Sawgrass to the shorelined Spanish Bay. Before commencing play on a particular hole, you have the option to view an aerial "fly-by" of the course, complete with commentated tips on what obstacles lie in wait.
As in PGA 96, you use the same "Target Arc" power bar interface (which now warns the player of the degree of risk a shot involves) to control the velocity and accuracy of each shot. Factors such as wind speed, ground curvature, and terrain type all must be taken into account when choosing a club, shot trajectory, and spin. The player also now has the option of getting a better view of the course by adjusting the camera angle.
Figuratively speaking, the main divots encountered in PGA Tour 97 are the golfer animations. The players sort of ride a bumpy road. More generally, the game doesn't represent anything terribly new - it's another golf game, though it's a good follow-up to PGA Tour 96. Although it essentially explores the same old turf, fans of PGA 96 (and even console gamers who yearn to tee-off for the first time), will probably be driven to buy this title.