What happened to all the golfing games? The Tiger Woods series used to be one of EA’s annual events, replaced by (just the one) Rory McIlroy PGA Tour in 2015. There’re some minigolf titles, or 100ft Robot Golf for VR, but the genre seems to be stuck in a sand trap.

Does this PlayStation franchise have the driving ambition to make a comeback, or is it just par for the course?

The Everybody’s Golf series started way back in 1997 for the first PlayStation, with sequels on PS2, PS3, PSP, and PS Vita. By dropping the numbering system on PS4, it’s clear that the new and shiny Everybody’s Golf is marking a fresh start for the series.

The game makes golf simple and intuitive. Small adjustments for direction, and proper club selection are the most technical elements, and good swings come down to properly timed button presses. Despite this, the game has highly detailed physics, and factors such as windspeed and grass elevation also determine the accuracy of your shots.

Besides playing with balls, you can create a character, outfit them with clothes and accessories, and develop their skills and abilities. You can also freely wander around the various courses or the hub world at your leisure to find collectibles, spectate other players, or even splash around in the water hazards. Why swimming would be added to a golf game is anyone’s guess, but you know what they say… different strokes for different folks.

During the online beta, players could practice the individual holes, or play a 9-hole game and compete on the leaderboards, and a team-based competitive mode called Turf War was also included. The final game promises more competitive modes and courses, additional skill development, and even splitscreen local multiplayer.

If the beta had any faults, it would be its presentation. It’s a pretty game for sure, with detailed environments contrasting the cartoonish characters, but the user interface is too busy. There are loads of menus, and status indicators, and rankings that hang around on screen, bombarding players at all times. If these were more contextual, popping up only when needed, then the game would benefit from that greatly. Furthermore, the constant, generic rock soundtrack clashes with the gameplay. Tweaking those elements would make for a more relaxing game.

All in all, the Everybody’s Golf beta left a good impression. The gameplay is easy to get into, but more difficult to master, and with some improvements could make for a fun way to unwind or compete with friends.

Everybody’s Golf tees off on PS4 on 30 August 2017.