The idea that golf is a good walk spoiled is rubbish. Hitting something with a stick is a timeless recipe for satisfaction – even cavemen couldn’t resist grunting the stone-age equivalent of “nice shot” after socking a saber tooth tiger in the jaws with a tree branch. No, the problem is with golf itself. And it’s here that video games can help.
The core mechanics of the sport are sound. But the rules and settings could certainly do with some adjustments to add that missing ingredient: Actual fun. So if the idea of separating a sand wedge from a pitching wedge leaves you keen to wedge them somewhere else entirely, fear not. These seven often ridiculous yet undeniably excellent golf games deliver an experience that everyone will find under par. Which we’re reliably told is a good thing when it comes to golf.
7 Great golf games for people who hate the sport
1. What The Golf
Don’t know the first thing about golf beyond the idea of swinging one thing to knock another thing towards a flag? You’re in good company, because neither did What The Golf’s developers. This increasingly absurd parody golf game will see you chipping your way through miniature physics-based puzzles.
The catch is that the ball is rarely the thing you’ll be striking. Humans, horses, houses and even the flag itself will need to be flung around as you figure out the individual rules to a given level. An ideal starting point for greenhorns on the green.
2. Dungeon Golf
Dungeons & Dragons is hot stuff right now, so what better way to boost Golf’s appeal with the kids than by swapping out rolling greens for a castle laden with traps and monsters. Dungeon Golf will see you taking out goblins and golems as you putt a path to victory in 3D arenas, all while being live commentated by the Dungeon Sports Network.
The game isn’t yet released, but there’s a quality Dungeon Golf demo available to download now on Steam. Did we mention you can play as a skeleton who uses his own leg as a golf club? We’re still probably 150 years or so from seeing that in the real sport.
3. Golf With Your Friends
Mini golf is as close as real life gets to making golf actually good, and that’s thanks in large part to the outlandish themes concocted for its courses. We’re just saying the Masters would be a lot more enjoyable to watch if it featured pirates and dinosaurs. Golf With Your Friends understands this perfectly, letting you putt together with your pals through a selection of weird and wonderful levels.
Unlike real life, however, Golf With Your Friends’ courses also include supernatural hazards like portals, speed boosts, and swinging mallets. There are loads of cheap DLC bundles to enjoy, and if you play on PC, you’ll have access to player-created custom maps too. Turn on player collision and jumping for a truly infuriating multiplayer golfing experience.
4. Walkabout Mini Golf VR
Own a VR headset and you can enjoy the physical aspects of golf while still removing the walking part entirely. Walkabout Mini Golf captures the feel and physics of precision putting perfectly, then smartly pairs that with courses that see you teleporting between holes in castles, Wild West towns, and scenic Scottish islands.
Whether enjoyed alone or with friends, it’s a phenomenally soothing experience. Though it’s one that does demand legitimate manual dexterity for the harder course variants. With a selection of DLC levels based on ancient wonders (and even, bizarrely, the 1986 film Labyrinth) added to the mix, Walkabout Mini Golf is by far the best reason to own a VR headset.
5. Mario Golf: Super Rush
The most insulting thing about Mario Golf: Super Rush is that it’s a genuinely great golfing sim. It lures you in with Mario and Peach, but before long you’ll find yourself factoring in wind and elevation to secure that perfect lie. The basic levels leave a bit to be desired, but inventive post-launch additions like the entirely three-par New Donk City map are havens for creative clubbing – even if they can be a little noisy.
Delve deeper into Super Rush’s systems and you’ll basically learn what golf would look like for superheros. Telepathy is typically frowned upon in the US Open, but the advanced clubs in this golf game will let you curve balls three different directions within a single flight path. And that’s all before factoring in special shots capable of freezing the ground solid or smothering it in obscuring fog. Don’t let the bold colors and characters fool you, there’s a wickedly deep sports sim to dive into here.
6. Cursed to Golf
If you hate golf then your idea of hell might be having to complete a single 18-hole course. Well, in Cursed To Golf that's basically what's happening, except it's just purgatory. Take too many strokes on a hole and you'll be struck down all over again, teeing off from the start in a macabre mulligan. You can use special Ace Cards to help you along the way, and there are boss battles, so it's full of plenty of excitement if the usual PGA tour format doesn't hold your attention but you still like to make ball go ping.
7. 100ft Robot Golf
For those seeking out a little more metal in their golfing career, how about a mech? Just a quick back 9 in a gundam? That's the self-explanatory promise of 100ft Robot Golf, which comes with the added bonus of the McElroy Brothers (of podcast fame) providing commentary to the tournament. The premise is wacky and outlandish, as is most of indie developer No Goblin's back catalogue, which is perfect for someone who likes the idea of golf, but not necessarily the form of it. Hit the greens (and any other parts of the destructible cityscape) in your mechanized golfer bod with up to three other robot-piloting friends.