What Video Games Taught Us About Playing Golf

What Video Games Taught Us About Playing Golf

Golf has long found its way into the video game industry and introduces countless players to the sport every year.

They generally do an excellent job educating the public on how to play golf. But, we wondered; Do the skills you learn playing a video game translate well to the golf course?

Generally, they get a lot of things right! But they also oversimply some aspects of the game.

Read more to learn what video games taught us about playing golf.

It’s All About The Tempo

If you’ve played PGA Tour 2K21, you know that tempo will make or break your shot. It affects both your distance and aim.

This is actually similar to real-life golf.

Tempo is the rhythm and speed with which you swing your club. Smooth tempo is defined as a swing that looks effortless but is actually very powerful.

Golf isn’t a game of brute strength. You use your body as a lever to generate clubhead speed, and a big biceps doesn’t do much for you on the course.

But similar to in video games, tempo is crucial for consistency. There isn’t one right way to swing a club, and you’ll have to test things out for yourself.


I wish you would be this easy. Just select the point on the Fairway, pick a distance, and swing your club.

Unfortunately, we don’t have scout cams available to us that go check out the landing area.

Most golfers pick a general direction or target and hope for the best. Good golfers will also aim for a miss so they’re still in a good spot if they don’t execute the shot as planned.

Unlike video games, we plan for the worst and hope for the best. Sometimes that means you aim directly at the hazard, bunker, or tree on the golf course.

As a tip, try aiming for something small instead of a general direction. You can aim for a leaf on a branch in a tree in the distance on the Tee Box.

This loosens you up end increase the chances to miss small.

The Lie

Something video games get quite right is how the lie affects your shot. Playing from the rough is very different than playing from the fairway.

The Tiger Woods PlayStation games often described the lie in percentages. Like, 80% of the ball is above the ground, for example.

What that means to you is that your clubface might not be able to make clean contact with the golf ball. You’ll have a hard time getting the ball out of the rough and need to adjust the way you swing and the club you choose.

Often, that means that you need to select the club with more loft and swing steeper. Most importantly, though, is that you make ball first contact.

The more grass there is between the ball and the clubface, the less distance and height you get from your shot.

Selecting Your Shot

In video games, you often have a wide range of shorts you can select from. For example:

  • Pitch
  • Flop
  • Stinger
  • High / Low
  • Punch

Each shot has its own uses. Unlike video games, we actually need to practice all of them extensively before we use them on the course.

Always choose your high-percentage shot. Consider the risk-reward ratio and only use difficult shots when you really have to.

As a beginner, the most helpful shot you can have in your toolbox is probably a pitch shot.  This shot gets you out of trouble, and it’s pretty easy to master.

You can use it whenever you are in the rough, underneath the tree, or generally need to advance the ball without creating too much height with your ball flight.

Course Management

Dog-leg left hit a draw. Dog-leg right hit a fade. Right?

See, again, it’s not that easy. Only because the shape of the hole goes to the left doesn’t mean you should hit a draw from The Tee Box.

You need to consider where the biggest landing area is on any hole you play. Plan your shot so if you miss it, you’ll still be in a good position.

Lots of Pros like to shape their shots away from a hazard. For example, if you have a lake to your right, you hit a fade and even aim left of the lake.

This way, you won’t put it in the drink, even if you miss your fade, and hit it straight instead.

Leave the magic to the video game heroes and play it save instead. Your wallet will thank you for not having to re-stock on golf balls every round.


It’s fair to say that video games did a whole lot for the golfing community. They attract new players to the game and highlight that golfing is not only for our senior community.

The challenge is to keep a game realistic without killing it’s fun. Golf is already hard enough.

Golf video games make for a great alternative on bad-weather days or if you just want to play like a pro without spending hours on the range every day.

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Aspiring ninja.

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