Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf (Genesis)

Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf Box Art

Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf

System: Genesis

Release Date: October 1989

Developer: Sega R&D2

Publisher: Sega

Genre: Sports

Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf is Sega’s first attempt at golf in two years and boy is it an improvement over the Great Golf predecessor. Though you can play practice rounds with one or two players, the meat of Arnold Palmer comes in the 12 round tournament play. You start as a novice with the goal of finishing as high as you can in a 16 player field.

Each round takes place on one of three different courses. You play in the US, Japan, or Great Britain. You need to pick your clubs before each round. I am a fan of bringing the 2 iron, because it’s a great club. When you’re on the course, you’re given plenty of information before each swing. You see the wind speed, the lie of the ball, and you can set your stance for hooks and slices. Then you choose your club, where you’re aiming with the arrow, and a 3-click swing launches the ball. Getting a full power swing may take a few tries, but persistence makes perfect.

If you finish in the top eight, you can receive level ups in your power, skill, and caddy. The level 1 caddy is pretty useless, just giving you the distance to the hole. The level 2 caddy gives you information on distance to landmarks on the course. This is incredibly helpful, as you’re just guessing otherwise. As you move through the tournament rounds, you get better at understanding the distances and with the help of the instruction manual, which tells you the default distance of the clubs, you can make good decisions.

The short game is where I had my biggest issues. I felt putting power was inconsistent. I thought I’d be hitting it strong enough and it would be to weak. Then I thought I tapped it soft enough and it would overshoot the hole. I got better at it in later rounds, but it was tough. I was a lot happier when I could chip it in, which I did several times. Heck, I even have a hole-in-one to my name. After the 9th hole, you are treated to a little vignette starring Alex Kidd and Opa-Opa. They’re a humorous diversion, just like the Fantasy Zone minigame. If you shoot 100 on a hole, input the Konami Code for some shoot ‘em up action.

In round seven, you’re plopped into a match play tournament. I admit to taking some mulligans here, because the computer is just ridiculous. Halk was holing out long shots, chip shots, long putts, I didn’t have a chance. It was at this point that I decided that playing several more rounds of golf was not going to be productive use of my time and I stopped.

Graphics: 3.0

Everything looks nice. Not great, but better than any other golf game we’ve seen.

Sound: 3.0

There are four tunes to choose from when on the links. They are all good. I like all the music and the sounds are on point.

Gameplay: 3.5

This is a pretty great golf game with a lot of options. It’ll be hard to do better.

Difficulty: 3.0

It’s you versus the course. Once you learn the course, it’s pretty easy, but the computer players have godly skills.

Fun Factor: 3.5

Lots of fun is to be had in Arnold’s golf game.

Overall Grade: 3.2

Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf earns a B+. This is the best golf game of the 80s that I’ve played. Try it out and thank me later.