PGA TOUR 2K23 (PS5) Review

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Developer: 2K
Publisher: 2K
Played On: PlayStation 5
Genre: Sports
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
MSRP: 89.99
Release Date: 11/10/2022

I am an avid golfer, or at least I used to be. For me there are few better experiences than being on a golf course first thing in the morning, hearing the birds and the quiet as I work my way around the course. Having not golfed in a few years, I need to get my fix elsewhere, and PGA TOUR 2K23 is a fantastic way to do so. With some interesting additions to the controls, and the ability to play as and against some of my favourite players from both the PGA and LPGA tours, PGA TOUR 2K23 surprised me in just how much fun I could have. 

As is the case with any other sports game, PGA TOUR 2K23 starts you off with some basic tutorials to show you the controls and how to play certain shots. This year you have a new method of swinging your clubs: 3-Click swing. In years past, to swing the club all you would have to do was draw the left or right sticks back and then quickly push them forward to simulate the golf swing.

3-Click swinging changes all of that by making you press and hold the X button (I played on PS5) for a set time, then press again at a specific point in the back swing to initiate the downswing, and then again at impact to determine if the club face is open or closed.  

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3-Click swinging can be very difficult to get used to at first, but once I got the hang of it, it became all about timing. If you’re too late on initiating the downswing, you lose power, and if you aren’t precise at the moment of impact, then the club face, being open or closed, will send the ball either left or right. The moments of a perfect swing were brilliant and the moments of an imperfect swing gave immediate feedback into what you did wrong, which is more than I can say for my regular golf swing in real life.  

I started PGA TOUR 2K23 with career mode. MyCareer allows you to choose what tour you want to start in, and if you want to play as your created player, or with an established Pro player like Tiger Woods or Collin Morikawa. From there, once you’ve chosen your tour (I started from the bottom in the Korn Ferry tour, to earn my way onto the PGA Tour), you’ll play in your first event. I customized my settings so that I needed to play 2 rounds per tournament instead of 4, made sure that my wind settings were such that I am not playing in a hurricane.  

“Having not golfed in a few years, I need to get my fix elsewhere, and PGA TOUR 2K23 is a fantastic way to do so.”

From here, MyCareer is a bit repetitive until you get to the PGA Tour. It’s just tournament after tournament until you either win three in a season and get automatically promoted to the PGA Tour, or you accumulate enough points to move to the next level. Thankfully, I was able to win three tournaments in a row and was on the PGA Tour taking on my first rival. As much as I enjoy taking on rivals and playing in real tournaments like The Player’s Championship and competing for the FedEx Cup, the game play isn’t any different from on the lower-level tour.  

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One of the best things about PGA TOUR 2K23, is the inclusion of female pro-players such as Lexi Thompson and fellow Canadian Brooke Henderson. They play in the same tournaments you do in MyCareer and I loved looking at the leaderboards in the middle of the round to see their names right there with the best of the field. I’ve followed both of the two I mentioned earlier for a long time and seeing them in the game now is sure to introduce it to a whole new demographic of players.  

Outside MyCareer, there are a few other game modes to take part in, such as Competitive, where you can play in custom seasons against other players; Casual, where you can play a local match against your friends or others online, or take part in training to practice shots and calibrate your Swing Stick; Designer, where you are able to design your very own golf course, and a new addition, TopGolf, where the player can take part in an arcade-type challenge at the TopGolf Las Vegas location.  

“One of the best things about PGA TOUR 2K23, is the inclusion of female pro-players such as Lexi Thompson and fellow Canadian Brooke Henderson.”

The TopGolf addition to PGA TOUR 2K23 intrigued me right away, as I do not live anywhere near one, but having seen them on TV and YouTube previously. The idea is very simple: you get 10 shots to hit various targets around the range, accumulating points. High score wins at the end of the 10 shots. You can play this locally with your friends or online against up to 4 strangers. It’s a really fun game mode, and can see it being played a lot by the player-base. 

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The course designer got some upgrades as well with an updated user interface and some enhanced visuals with new greenery and foliage. I did a little bit of stadium creation in MLB The Show 22, so I thought this would be relatively easy to get into. I was wrong. There is a staggering number of variables to adjust or choose from when creating your very own course. I may just not have the mind for this because I have seen some absolute beauties created by other players.  

Just like in real life, the game of golf in PGA TOUR 2K23 is unforgiving. Shots you think you lined up perfectly end up falling short, or catch a tiny bit of the rough and cause you to miss the green. 2K’s overhaul of flight and ground physics is far more realistic and forces the player to be smart about how they want to approach a shot. I can’t count the number of times I thought I had a putt lined up perfectly, only to have it roll just slightly below the hole because I judged the speed wrong. It seems my putting in the game is about as good as it is in real life.  

“I have a couple of issues with PGA TOUR 2K23, and they all stem from gameplay.”

In addition to the enhanced physics, PGA TOUR 2K23 also features several licensed courses (TPC Sawgrass and TPC Scottsdale, to name a couple), including some new locations such as Wilmington Country Club, The Renaissance Club, and the incredible St. George’s Golf and Country Club. I hopped into a casual match by myself to experience the island green on TPC Sawgrass almost immediately.  

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I have a couple of issues with PGA TOUR 2K23, and they all stem from gameplay. First, and foremost, there is not a way to practice a specific hole on a specific course. Say, for instance, that you are having an impossible time getting your ball to land and stay on the infamous 17th hole’s island green at TPC Sawgrass. Understandable, I’d say, as there are a myriad of pros that have the same issue, but you want to take some time to get your shot dialed in and perfected. Well, in order to do that, you have to load up the course and play the preceding 16 holes in order to get there! 

It baffles me that in PGA TOUR 2K23, there is no way to play a given hole any time you want. I realize that you can’t do that on a real golf course either, but this is a video game. This is the sort of thing that I wanted to practice, not just hitting balls mindlessly in the driving range section of the Casual menu. In Gran Turismo 7 I can load up any track I want, in any car I want, and do as many laps as I want. Why is this different? 

“Despite its shortcomings, I enjoyed my time with PGA TOUR 2K23, and will continue to play it simply because I love the game of golf.”

The other issue I have with PGA TOUR 2K23, is the lack of replayability, short of playing online. There are only three real game modes for playing the actual game of golf: MyCareer, Casual/Competitive, and TopGolf. I lumped Casual and Competitive in together as they are pretty much the same thing. I want challenges, or something to keep me coming back. 2K has put in a ClubHouse Pass as a sort of reward system for players who want to pay $13.49 CAD for 50 levels of rewards lasting almost three months, but there are no challenges for getting XP quicker, it’s just grinding rounds from day one.  

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Speaking of XP and levelling up, there are skill trees for your custom character to unlock by playing the game. The upgrades are done through Skill Points and you gain one skill point each time you level up. Different things affect the amount of XP you earn, such as the difficulty level you are playing on, so you may find yourself gaining levels quickly.

Each skill type has an activation and deactivation scenario. For example, the driver skill tree starts with the Trailblazer perk which activates when you miss 3 fairways in regulation (that is, when you miss the fairway from your tee shot), and deactivates when you hit a fairway in regulation.  

The whole purpose of XP is to gain levels for the Clubhouse Pass, but even on the free tier, you’ll still earn a few rewards for your time. The nice thing about Clubhouse Pass is that all the items you earn are cosmetic, meaning there is no Pay-To-Win mechanic at play here.  

Despite its shortcomings, I enjoyed my time with PGA TOUR 2K23, and will continue to play it simply because I love the game of golf. Are there things to improve upon? Of course there are, and I certainly hope they are improved upon. Golf, while it can be a grind in real life, should not be this big of a grind as a video game. 

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher. You can read more about CGMagazine reivew policies here.

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