50 Words or Less
The GOLF+ VR golf simulator is an immersive golf game. Not a perfect translation of “real” golf, but not a pure video game either. Multiplayer is a fantastic way to connect.
Over the last few years, the golf landscape has changed rapidly. In the past, golf only meant golf, but now it includes things like Topgolf, simulator golf, and, yes, virtual reality golf. I recently had the opportunity to test the leading VR golf product, GOLF+, to see how this new addition will impact the future of the game.
Set Up & Ease of Use
I went into this review completely new to at-home VR. Getting started was remarkably easy. I unboxed my Meta Quest 2 headset and gave it a full charge. When I turned it on for the first time, I needed to connect to WiFi and go through a few set up menus, just as with any new device. Using the two controllers was impressively intuitive.
After a few minutes of set up, I launched into the main Meta interface. Anyone who regularly uses a smartphone will find the menus fairly comfortable. There are some specific paths and icons you’ll need to learn, but it all comes together without much difficulty.
Once I downloaded GOLF+ onto my device, getting started in the game was straightforward. The menus are clear, and it’s easy to undo a mistake. The in-game controls take a little time to become natural. I played about 27 holes before I felt like I was playing without thought. Again, the game’s designers did a good job of making sure you can always undo a mistake quickly.
Golf Simulation Accuracy
The first question I – and probably many of you – had when I loaded up GOLF+ was, “Is this a simulator or a video game?” The short answer is that, right now, it’s somewhere in the middle.
Let’s start with the controls. You can play with the standard controller or with one of many adapters (above). The adapter that I used made the game feel more like golf, but the weight and balance aren’t the same as a real club. When swinging the controller alone, the game feels a bit more like Wii Golf.
The major factor in how this game feels is the difficulty level. On novice, you’re going to hit a lot of 300 yard, fairway-splitting drives. Bump up to amateur and you’ll be expected to show some skill. On pro mode, there are no guard rails at all. I got to play with a very skilled GOLF+ player which was a great demonstration that there is a lot of skill in being good at this game. Does it translate 1:1 to being good at real golf? No, the company readily acknowledges it’s not a perfect simulation…yet. But a good real world golfer with a little time on GOLF+ will likely dominate a non-golfer.
One of the areas where GOLF+ is very close to the real thing is in the decision making. Elements like wind, elevation, and club selection all affect the results of shots like they do on the course. In this way, I can see GOLF+ being a great way for new golfers to learn the game before going to the course. It’s also a good tool for golfers who want to sharpen their decision making.
Ultimately, GOLF+ is, for now, one step “down” from simulator golf. There are a lot of similarities – things like taking into account “wind” that you can’t feel. Also developing a feel for the short game can seem like an entirely new skill. But if you want to make some swings and feel like you’re golfing, GOLF+ will definitely scratch the itch.
What GOLF+ may lack in simulation, it makes up for in fun. First, the experience is extremely immersive. The graphics aren’t lifelike 4K yet (that upgrade is coming), but you still feel like you’re in the game.
Second, there are tons of game modes. You can play a round of golf, go around wild putting courses, play Topgolf, or take on new weekly challenges. Also, with the speed of play, you can fit in whatever type of golf you want in virtually any amount of time.
Additionally, GOLF+ brings gamification to golf. As you play, you build up XP to level up your golfer and earn G+ credits. The credits can be used to customize your bag with real clubs from Callaway and TaylorMade. Just like in the real world, you can make your golf buddies drool when you pull out the new Stealth driver from the bag.
Finally, perhaps the best thing about GOLF+ is the multiplayer. It’s very easy to link up with friends all across the globe and play a quick nine. As you’re playing, you can talk to each other just as if you’re on the course together. The immersive nature of the experience is key because it locks you into the interaction. Even though you’re seeing their avatars, not their faces, you can’t simultaneously check your text messages, so it feels more connected than Zoom. If you have golf buddies you want to see more often, this is a great way to get together.
The GOLF+ game has a regular retail price of $29.99. Additional courses can be added for $8 each. Given the quality and fun – and comparing it to the cost of any other form of golf – $30 is a steal.
Of course, the bigger cost is the VR headset. I tested GOLF+ with the Meta Quest 2 headset which costs $399. That’s a substantial investment, especially if you don’t have other things you want to do in VR.
Finally, if you want to make your golf experience more realistic, you can add a controller adapter. These are made by a wide variety of companies and cost anywhere from $40-$80. My advice would be to make sure you enjoy the game before adding the adapter.
GOLF+ is a great way for players to scratch their itch when the weather turns sour or when time won’t permit a trip to the course. While nothing can truly replicate the feel of and skills required for a real round, this game gets a lot of things right and is only getting better.