PGA Tour 2K21 Review – Talk About A Hole In One

Sports games generally tend to be more arcadey than simulation, with easy-to-learn basic mechanics that make the experience breezy off the bat while also having enough depth to appeal to competitive players. HB Studios’ The Golf Club series has consistently defied that mantra by embracing the exacting challenges and unpredictability of golf since its debut title in 2014. With the 2K Games rebrand, I thought PGA Tour 2K21 might aim to be more like EA’s defunct golf series. Instead, what’s here is a refinement of The Golf Club 2019, with welcome new features and mechanical tweaks that make for a smoother experience on the course.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, PGA Tour 2K21 is technically the fourth entry in The Golf Club series that was originally self-published by HB Studios. It’s the second title to be published by 2K Games following The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA Tour, which 2K helped polish ahead of its release in 2018. The transition to the 2K Sports naming convention will likely garner more eyeballs, but for dedicated fans of The Golf Club like myself, you don’t have to worry about HB Studios messing with the formula too much.

PGA Tour 2K21’s major gameplay change comes with the motion you repeat over and over: your swing. HB Studios removed backswing tempo, which in turn promotes consistent, crisp ball-striking. Every golfer at all levels of play–including Tour pros–has different backswing timing, making this change quite welcome. Overall, I found it much easier to get “perfect” tempo swings. That’s not to say the analog stick swing mechanics are too easy now. You still have to make the transition to your downswing in one smooth turn to hit the golf ball on target; the removal of backswing timing merely tosses one unnecessary variable out of the equation, freeing you up to get into a nice groove. Solid swings have a cleaner and fluid look in PGA Tour 2K21, with speed feeling more in-step with real life.

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