There's nothing quite like a rousing round of golf to get the old Tourette's going. On the other hand, nothing else can get your fist pumping from a Hail Mary birdie putt or a line drive tee shot skillfully touching down between a sand bunker and a water hazard. The distances involved and the precision required in golf is the sporting equivalent of lobbing laser-guided cruise missiles into Al-Qaeda cave openings.
Teeing off a duff-shot debut is ProStroke Golf: World Tour 2007. Relying on realistic play mechanics, ProStroke slices simulator technicalities back into a genre flippant with arcade-style hooks. The titanium core of the gameplay certainly holds true to this promise. But when it comes to everything else on the scorecard, it ends up a few strokes above par. (Remember: That overbaked analogy is a golf analogy. A few strokes above par is bad.)
Immersion factor in ProStroke needs to take a Mulligan (that's a do-over for you rookies). The sparsely-shaded courses make the lay of the land difficult to survey, though the golfers anchor themselves tightly to the terrain. When you find yourself with sand wedge in hand from a steep-angled bunker, or taking the scenic route along the rough outer edge of the back nine, then you'll be pleased to find your cleats clinging like Velcro to the bland, sloping terrain. And -- except for a little stutter-stepping between a regular stance and a chipping stance -- the body movements, hand positioning, and shifting of weight are all convincingly captured from upswing to follow through.
ProStroke is so heavily nuanced with these features that the position of your lead foot will draw or fade the ball left or right. Add further shape to your shots by sliding the point-of-contact on the ball for greater control. Move the ball back further in your stance to give it some punch, shooting it onto a lower flight trajectory beneath high winds or low-lying tree branches, and creating what is affectionately referred to as a "Groundhog Killer." Do the opposite for a Sky Ball, should you require a short, high shot for some vertical take-off and landing onto the putting green.
If you're feeling intimidated right now, perhaps you should be. Golf isn't considered the world's most challenging sport for nothing. In fact, in America, golf is the unofficial sport of the business world. Several schools of business, including Stanford University, enact undergraduate and graduate-level courses that apply your hard-won subsidized loans toward learning "business golf." Spend the budget bin price for ProStroke Golf and you may just get the drop on your classmates' first couple weeks of homework.
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