April 10, 2006 - While Phil Mickelson was busy trying to fit into his second green jacket on Sunday, I was winning a tournament of my own on Real World Golf. No, it wasn't against PGA golfers, nor was it on a licensed PGA course like Sawgrass or Scottsdale. It was on a fake, ugly course against fake, ugly golfers, and it was a real good time.

Real World Golf is not like any golf videogame you've played before. Instead of using an old-school button system or the new, hip right analog stick, you use your rickety golf swing, the same swing you use on the local course and forces you to spend large sums of cash on new golf balls to replace those you hit in the drink. So how does RWG pull this off without stealing Nintendo Revolution technology? The Mad Catz Gametrak controller.

RWG is not playable without the Gametrak, but that's the point. Using a pair of gloves, a pair of wires and a sophisticated motion capture sensor, the Gametrak effectively replicates your golf swing on screen. Grab the plastic mini-club included with RWG and move your wrists around and watch the avatar open and close the club face. Bring the club back a bit and watch your golfer bring the club back. There's no delay; your golfer will instantly mimic your movements. Then simply take a golf swing and witness the ensuing glory/despair. Be careful with the Gametrak when you hole it from distance; try not to tangle the wires with your victorious fist-pump.


Too bad the Gametrak can only re-create your swing.
As a videogame, RWG is not much to shake a stick at. Compare it to any other golf title and, in terms of graphics, sound, courses and golfers, RWG pales in comparison to the likes of Tiger Woods PGA Tour. But as a golf simulation, a golf tool and swing coach, RWG is closer to the pin than anything on the console market. Tiger takes you as far as you can possibly go with a right analog stick. But RWG isn't trying to be a cool videogame for ADD-riddled teenagers; it's trying to be the coolest Fathers' Day gift since a fresh three-pack of tighty-whities.

It would be something to see Phil Mil strap himself into the Gametrak and take a few hacks. Forget the image of the Gametrak's wires stretching around Hefty Lefty's gut. It would be a great test to see how accurate the Gametrak measure's the swing of the Masters champ. We tested the unit out last month at the Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco, bumped the difficulty level up to pro, and gave the game to one of the golf instructors there. Here's what he had to say:


Some fuzzy graphics that get the job done in the end.
"There are many different elements to a golf swing, but a few elements this game is measuring are posture movement and getting the club face square and the speed of the club at impact. These can be big problems for people, moving up and down as you swing, changing your posture during the swing. The game gives you a repeatable exercise that helps you with your posture and keeping the club face square.

I was very impressed. You're actually swinging a club instead of just pushing buttons. Of the few swings I made that felt good to me, they were good in the game. There weren't any bad swings I made that were good in the game, and there weren't any good swings I made that went bad. The feedback is very realistic."