Fore And After — I just can’t quit ‘Tiger Woods’


I bet you didn’t even know there is a new “Tiger Woods” golf game on the market. “Tiger” used to arrive with a roar every year. Now its arrival seems as quiet as a golf gallery.

But “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14” is pretty great — as long as you can put up with slow load times, a few weird hitches and a constant monetization.

“Tiger” looks excellent. But its greatness comes from the near-perfection of the game play.

You can portray Tiger and other classic golfers.

It’s far more fun to create a character from scratch, then take him or her on the amateur and pro tours — improving his or her golf skills with each tournament.

At the end of each tourney, you earn “Tiger” money. You spend that money to magically strengthen your golfer’s traits, such as “power,” “putting” and ball spin.

As tourneys progress, you unlock other abilities to use better drivers, irons and putters.

In other words, this “Tiger” feels like previous “Tigers” with some variations. (You can no longer buy “luck” as a character trait, for instance.)

So the thing that made “Tiger” remarkable in the past remains: It feels like golf.

So you must learn to thread the needle of narrow golf links — knocking your ball high in the air, in between trees, avoiding sand traps and so forth.

Once again, I feel real excitement playing a “Tiger” game, the same way I feel excitement when I practice yoga.

Yes, golf reminds me of yoga. If you look at yoga from the outside, you wonder, “Why are all those people sweating when they aren’t moving very fast?” Because yoga is intense.

Similarly, when you watch people play golf, you think, “They must be bored, because it looks so mellow.” But golf (real or virtual) is very emotive because you get so caught up in every swing.

I have had some troubles with “Tiger 14.”

Sometimes when I have putted, the game has lost its info gauges — the ones telling me where the ball is aimed, how fast the wind is blowing and how sloped the green is.

That flaw has damaged some otherwise superb tournaments for me.

And several times, my “Tiger” disc froze on me in the simplest of places, the game menu, and I had to quit “Tiger” and reboot.

Also, of course, this is an Electronic Arts game, so there is monetizing in “Tiger” — to the point where not all of the golf courses are available.

Yes, you heard me right. You can buy these other courses with your real money online, or earn them over a long period of playing in tournaments, even though you have the game disc in your possession.

But whatever. If you can overlook EA’s “Tiger” monetizing, you can play some spectacular golf here. It’s almost as if “Tiger” were young again, and you are Tiger. That’s pretty sweet.

(“Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14” by EA retails for $60 for PS 3 and Xbox 360 — Plays addictively fun. Looks excellent. Challenging. Rated “E.” Four out of four stars.)

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Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/doug-elfman. Write to Doug on Twitter at @VegasAnonymous.