The biggest problem with golf videogames right now is that the games at the top of the heap are filled with gimmicks: comically effective "spin" buttons, and super-powered shots that'll drive the golf ball farther and faster than humanly possible. Even the Tiger Woods series, for all its visual authenticity, is far from realistic.
ProStroke Golf goes the other direction, concentrating more on the real-world dynamics of the golf swing and breaking it down to the basic level for the player. Though it feels a bit overwhelming at first, in no time flat you'll know how and why to do things like changing your stance, shifting your weight forward and back, and using the dual-analog swing technique in ProStroke to put the ball exactly where you want it to go.
Yeah, from a gameplay standpoint, ProStroke is a very nice little game of golf. It feels way more realistic and technical than any of the major games on the market today, but in a very good way. If there's one major complaint about the mechanics of ProStroke, it's that there's no good way to see how you're aiming the shot relative to an entire hole. In other words, there's no good bird's eye view that shows your aiming reticule or something.
So, gameplay is solid. It's too bad the bevy of shortcomings and bad design decisions everywhere else in the game work so hard to suck the fun out of the experience.
Graphically, ProStroke Golf is one ugly game. It doesn't even come close to the status quo for Xbox, PS2, or PC visuals. The smooth, green mass that's supposed to pass for grassy fairways and greens does nothing to help you understand the lie of your ball, or to please the senses in any way. The boring, repetitive commentary and sparse sound effects round out the disappointing presentation nicely.
Then there's career mode, where you're forced to play alongside a partner for each and every round. And you can't skip his turn... you're forced to watch him muddle his way through each hole, easily doubling the amount of time it takes to play through a tournament. Fun!
In this connected world, it's shocking to find out that the PS2 and Xbox versions of ProStroke feature absolutely no way to get online for some multiplayer. Even the PC's multiplayer modes are lacking. Sure, if you have four guys in your game room who happen to like golf, it's not a problem, but most of us have become used to reaching out across our broadband connections to find a little competition. It's a major oversight.
ProStroke Golf could have been a contender. But its solid play mechanics aren't enough to overcome the near-complete lack of licensed courses and golfers, or the various other oversights and issues that plague it.