The Golf Club is the new game developed by HB Studios available on the Xbox One and Steam and I got my hands on the Xbox One version of the game. I’ll tee this review off by admitting that I am not a fan of golf. On the rare occasions that I have found myself playing a round, my main goal is usually to get the ball through the windmill or in the Gorilla’s mouth. I have never been a keen follower of golf games either and HB Studio’s The Golf Club does very little to change my albeit low opinion of the genre.

The game itself feels incredibly thrown together, the menu system is basic to the point of looking like a game on Facebook and there is not any kind of tutorial. As a relative newcomer to the genre I find it staggering that a game that is all about precision can be so haphazard. There is a feature that allows you to create the golfer that you will play as, however saying that the customisation is skin deep would be overstating how much choice you have. The golfer’s physical attributes won’t change and the limit of your creativity will be picking male or female, what colour shirt, trousers and cap you want them to wear. It’s a big let-down as most sports games will allow at least some personalization and attribute disposition but it is entirely lacking in The Golf Club.

Let me take a second to talk about the visuals of HB studios new “simulator”. The graphics lack any kind of depth, trees look blocky and the grass (something that you may assume would be a large part of a golf game) looks like it has been painted on with a roller. Textures look incredibly bland and I found that I was never absorbed by the world, I was acutely aware that this may well have been a game I could have been playing on last gen consoles. It is unfortunate and it smacks of rushed deadlines or simply a “that’ll do” mentality. Even the animations of the golfer are blocky and the less said about the square ball the better.

I do like some of the commentary of your golfing buddy “John”, his sarcastic comments and borderline exasperation when I hit the ball into the rough was the only thing that kept me playing as long as I did. His performance is one of the only standout aspects of The Golf Club experience and even when I was being chastised for being seven over par his little quips held my attentions even though it didn’t negate the sheer frustration I frequently found myself dealing with.

This brings me to the elephant in the room, the one thing about The Golf Club that I just can’t bring myself to look past: the gameplay itself. There is no tutorial and no learning curve, there’s no explanation or advice. As gamers we have grown lazy and we usually need someone to hold our hands as we progress but for something that requires as much planning, finesse and precision as a golf simulator I simply would have thought it may have given some kind of advice on how to actually play the game. I found it totally frustrating and my game plan of tedious repetition to try and learn the nuances of the controls was a major turn off for me, in fact with the confusing, fiddley controls and no tutorial or guide it’s like trying to make love to a woman with the lights off while wearing oven mitts… or as I call it, a bank holiday Monday. Sadly both events are destined to be a very disappointing experience.

You have a choice of playing a single round, a tour or a tournament. It boils down to the same goal. Get the little ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. While some golf fans will surely love the repetition of this act I found that with no new experiences there was nothing to keep playing for. During one hole I did notice some rabbits hopping around near the green, this was a lovely touch and added a bit of life to the game until I unfortunately hit and apparently killed one of them with an ill-fated pitching wedge shot.

The Golf Club also boasts a Greg Norman Golf Course Designer. When I originally tried to create a course I had a lot of trouble, all I was able to choose were the levels of trees, water and hills that would be placed on the course, how many holes there would be and how difficult it was. The problem that I kept running into was that it wouldn’t let me progress past this stage of the building process and after two days of trying I lost patience with it. Since then feature is working and to HB’s credit there is a good level of detail in this mode. While it’s not intuitive, with a little trial and error I found I was starting to get the hang of tweaking the generated courses. It is a lovey addition to a rather bland game but the issues I had when trying to access it soured the experience for me.

While I didn’t get a great deal of use out of the social features on offer, The Golf Club does host a good selection of social media style activities that allows you to see how many of your friends have played each course and how they have progressed in doing so.

The final positive things about the game I will mention is the multiplayer. You can play with up to four people, each taking turns in trying their skills at any given course. It is not a quick game to learn or play but those who love everything about golf will inevitably enjoy this title and will be able to see past its many flaws.