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A complete 18-hole golf course invites you for an exiting competition. Ideally, you will travel from the tee, across the fairway, and into the hole on the green. But, the ball is not always going to fly the right distance or in the right direction. Sometimes it loses its way in the challenges of the course. There are roughs (badly cut grass), bunkers (artificial hollows made of sand), weeds or water hazards which present problems the Golfer has to avoid.
The Beginner (Rabbit) is allowed to use just 7 different clubs (dice) to get the ball into the hole. However, game by game your handicap will be improved until you're using all 14 clubs. Also the stroke line (by using chips) will become more and more safe on your way to Golf Professional (GolfProfi). And on the way you will also learn the complete rules of Golf.
This is also a must for every golfer to avoid the passing of winter without playing a round of golf.
Players: 1 - 4
Time: 60 - 120 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Weight: 1,384 grams
Language Requirements: Game components are printed in multiple languages, including English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).
- 1 Golf-Course of 18 holes
- 2 x 14 Golf-Clubs as different forms of dice
- 4 Direction-Dice (for 1 to 4 players)
- 4 Golf-Balls in 4 different colors
- 2 spare Golf-Balls for each color
- 36 Chips
- 1 Figure to mark the hole on the green
- 2 spare figures
- 2 Plastic boxes for the parts
The latest game from AZA tackles the sport of golf. I have bought many golf games over the years and have yet to find one that feels like you are playing a game with decisions and outcomes that are not too dissimilar from the real thing. They tend to feature a good simulation, with an attractive board to provide the backdrop or the humorous side, such as Golf Mania from Fantasy Flight. Or they take a completely different tack and try to feature the physical side, with a miniature golfer moving a small ball over plastic bunkers and onto felt greens, such as in Golf Masters. The main problem is that they don't work as golf simulations and after a few plays are left to gather dust. Will GolfProfi join their ranks?
Albrecht Nolte's two previous games have been themed around the clever use of dice. Turfmaster also featured card movement, while Motorchamp was entirely about dice rolling and assessment of your position. I'm in the camp that enjoyed both games, though I know there are people who do not like Motorchamp for the same reasons that I like it.
As usual from AZA you get a splendid presentation. The board is double sided and features 3 holes on each side. The grid is hexagonal and each hole shows the standard aspects of golf clubs - teeing off areas, fairways, light rough, bunkers, woods, water, and of course greens. Each of these is coloured a different colour and so they are easy to distinguish. The holes are completely designed for the game, so there is no 'third hole at Carnoustie'. In order to play a round of golf, you play each hole three times, from different tee positions, which sounds daft, but isn't as the different distances bring bunkers and rough into play that did not feature when you played from the other tee positions.
Each hole has two teeing positions, so you can choose where you start from. Players then have to decide the direction that they are aiming in. This is along one of the 6 hex sides or along the hex spines. In practice this provides 3 choices as you are aiming to get closer to the hole than your starting position. Dice are rolled according to the type of terrain your ball is on with a die for direction. The red direction die is six sided and has 4 chances of going where you wanted and one left and one right. This all sounds pretty familiar and so if that was all there was to GolfProfi, it would be bland and destined for the gaming golf dump.
The actual play is an area which has been focused on. As the range of dice rolls have been carefully calculated to provide decisions about where a ball will end, the terrain has been tailored around these shots so that you feel that each shot is a considered option. This makes me think of Motorchamp, so if you liked this, I suspect you'll like GolfProfi too. The putting aspect has also been well handled. The greens are irregularly shaped, up to 8 hexes wide, by 6 hexes long. The pin can be placed anywhere on the green, providing for many options. When a player's ball reaches the green, the putting die is used. This is a six sided die, displaying two numbers on each face, such as 2/3. The numbers displayed can be used on their own or in combination and one diagonal bend is allowed in the direction that the ball travels. In practice, this means that the ball either reaches the hex where the hole is or is adjacent, which counts as a tap in. The system works well for all greens and feels about right too. This diagonal bend system also applies to shots played from the fairway, which feels like the ball going down a slope to bring it to the pin.
The new aspect added to golf games by GolfProfi is the handicapping system. You start at handicap 54, so every hole you play you get a 3 shot benefit so that you should make par for each hole. If you manage par, after this benefit, you score 2 points. This is according to the Stapleford handicapping system in real golf which has been used in GolfProfi. So after 18 holes at par you should score 36 points. If you manage a better score for a hole by beating par, you get more points. Three points are awarded for 1 under par, four for 2 under, while only 1 is given if you get 1 over par. When you compare your 18 hole score to 36 points, you may have more than 36. The difference is used to compute your new handicap, with a point improvement in handicap for each point you scored in excess of 36. (Later on this ratio worsens, so your handicap improves more slowly.) For your next game of GolfProfi, you will receive better game advantages. These come in two forms, better dice (clubs now provide you with a longer distance to travel), and some direction chits. These can be used to correct wayward direction dice when you through the red die and your ball is destined to travel away from the direction you wanted.
And this aspect is addictive! When I first got the game, I tried one round. My handicap improved and I had to play one more game, which maintained my handicap. I was frustrated, as going to the 18th hole, I only needed a par to improve slightly. Unfortunately, I hooked the ball badly and only managed a 1 over par. But I wanted another go as I wanted my handicap to get to the next club down. So I did, and 45 minutes later I had that club. If only the real game were so easy and fast! But the satisfaction from getting my handicap down more was real and thoroughly enjoyable.
If course this is a game and meant to be fun, so the handicapping system allows you to improve gradually, while several unpleasant sides of golf are not included, such as taking 7 puts on a green (frustrating and incompetent), the ball going down a slope that you didn't intend (hopeless playing). Which is just as well as you still have to contend with bunkers and woods where the ball can fly out two angles left (one of the red dice only applies in these places) and you might only go one hex forward.
I have played this solitaire and with one other person, but I suspect you could easily incorporate four balls, and many other versions of golf into GolfProfi, although you have to allow for more time with more players.
Overall, I have had my hopes confirmed from the brief look at Essen. The game plays well, has some good mechanisms and best of all feels right! This is the first golf game that feels like real golf, but is also a good gaming experience. And for those that were put off by the expensive earlier games from AZA, this one is about half the price. I can't wait for more boards to be designed to widen the options further. Roll on Essen 2003.