It has long been argued that console golf games need a kick in the pants. Imagine a "Happy Gilmore" approach to the game where agro golfers beat up Bob Barker as they swiftly work through course upon course. Or Celebrity Golf, where you can pick from players like Michael Jordan, Bill Murray, Andrew Shue, Lemmy from Motorhead, or any of Hootie and the Blowfish. Any of these alter egos would probably prove to be more exciting choices than tour members Billy Andrade, Fuzzy Zoeller, or the 12 other professional golfers (sans Lee Travino, Jack Nicklaus, and other superstars) who appear in PGA Tour 97 for the Sony Playstation
First, let it be said that if you're buying your first golf game, PGA Tour 97 won't do you wrong. It has two courses (Sawgrass and Spanish Bay), real golfers (14 professional tour members), various camera angles and precise play control. The graphics are three-dimensional (although they aren't fully exploited), though the sound is average. Overall, PGA Tour 97 presents a complete golf package that updates 32-bit golfing as we know it, which began with Phillips CD-I golf in 1991. If you're itching to add a golf game to your video game library, this is a competent choice.
PGA Tour 97 doesn't suffer from many problems, except that it's almost the same as PGA Tour 96, which in turn was an update of the previous 16-bit versions of the game. While the play control has been updated slightly (adding a difficulty meter to the shot arc), this is still the same interface we've been dealing with for years. The full-motion video players against their texture mapped backgrounds look good, but graphically this game doesn't serve up anything that isn't already available on the Playstation. PGA Tour 97 plays a lean and lengthy two courses of golf, but isn't it about time we were introduced to something new? For example, the four-player mode could be improved to let all the players go at once, thus introducing a chaotic element that could prove interesting. This is a video game, after all....
With PGA Tour 97, EA Sports has released rehash. There should have been more characters, courses (two is not enough), and a range of new options. Given the recent preference for polygon based games all around, perhaps next year's version will up the ante graphically and add new players (like Tiger Woods) to finally add a "coolness factor." PGA Tour 97 is a solid, fun golf game, but it's really not much more than the latest in a dry series of console golf titles.