I’m not going to say that the release of PGA Tour Golf Shootout (Free) right on the heels of Tiger Woods doing the late career hero thing and winning the Masters was planned, because these things need to be planned out well in advance. But man, that sure was some fortuitous timing.
In fact, there probably couldn’t be a better time for Concrete Software’s officially licensed PGA mobile game to drop. Now that it’s here, you undoubtedly want to know if it’ll let you live out your own Tiger fantasy on your phone or tablet, right?
And the answer is … definitely maybe. PGA Tour Golf Shootout allows you to play on some famous real world golf courses against other players, with game mechanics that are simple to learn yet still challenging to master. It’s also designed to give you that golf experience in bite-sized chunks, meaning a hole at a time instead of 18.
If that sounds pretty similar to other golf games already out there, you’re not wrong. The strength of PGA Tour Golf Shootout is almost going to have to be those real life holes, as well as whether Concrete can work more events into the mix that correspond to the PGA Tour schedule — not a crazy notion since the game has the FedEx Cup license too.
For now, though, let’s get out on the virtual links and see exactly how to start driving for show and putting for dough.
The interface for PGA Tour Golf Shootout is also very similar to some other mobile golf games already on the market, none of which I’ll name but some of which you probably have played a time or two. Before each shot, you’ll have a default club chosen for you, though you can tab on another club in your bag if you wish (though you shouldn’t until you know what you’re doing, as the default choice is basically always correct).
You’ll next see a close-up of your ball that looks like this:
To begin your shot, simply hold down and drag back on the ball. You’ll then see your view change to something like this:
This shows you exactly where your ball will go if you if you make perfect contact, which you do by stopping the cursor right on the circle as it goes from side to side. If not, you’ll hook or slice your shot accordingly. You can hit the ball further by dragging back more, but if you go too far, the cursor will speed way up and it will be hard to hit the shot accurately.
Bonus tip: Once you get the hang of hitting some shots, you can also control how the ball behaves by choosing where you initially touch the ball before dragging back. Touching up high will give the ball topspin, making it bounce and roll further once it lands. In contrast, starting your shot down low will give the ball backspin, tending to stop it from bouncing or even roll slightly backwards after it hits, depending on the terrain where it hits.
Putting is much the same, except you’ll see a line that shows you where the ball will roll with perfect contact, accounting for the characteristics of the green. If you manage to place the end of that line over the hole so that it glows, you can be assured that you’ll make your putt if you get the cursor timing down — though it’s also possible to overdo it on velocity, so only hit your putts just hard enough to get the glowing hole.
Along with practice making perfect and just getting better at the game mechanics, you can also shoot lower scores by improving your clubs. Every club, regardless of type, has three ratings, except putters which only have the first two:
- Power – Quite simply, a higher number here means you can hit the ball further, as well as allowing you to draw back a greater distance without causing the cursor to speed up.
- Accuracy – A higher score here means the cursor will move slower and make it easier to achieve perfect contact, plus minimize the effects of you missing it.
- Spin – More Spin means the effect of topspin and backspin will be more pronounced. According to the game’s own FAQ, Spin also effects how shots fly through the air, though less so for Drivers and Woods.
Though all clubs have their own baseline stats, you can improve them by leveling the club up. Doing that means finding multiple copies of that club’s card. Here’s where you can find more of those cards:
- Free daily packs – Every 24 hours, you’ll find a free pack on the game’s main screen that you can open immediately.
- Rewards from victories – If you win a match in the game’s main mode by beating your live opponent on a single hole, you’ll receive a reward pack. Each one will take a certain amount of time to open, and only one pack can be on its opening timer at any given time. Yes, this is very similar to about 80 percent of mobile games out right now in all kinds of genres.
- Buy some cards with coins – If you swipe all the way left from the main screen, you’ll find the in-game store. Among other things, you’ll see a selection of club cards you can buy with coins — won during gameplay — that changes daily. You can also purchase packs with gold, the premium currency, that will open immediately instead of being subject to the timers.
- Take advantage of free rewards – While you’re in the store, you’ll want to take note of the button at the bottom of the screen that says ‘Free Rewards.’ Tapping it will take you to a screen where you can choose to watch an ad for, well, free rewards, beginning with coins and progressing to a pack and gold if you watch all five. These reset every 24 hours as well.
Once you have enough copies of a given club, you’ll see a green meter beneath it and an ‘Upgrade Ready’ message if you tap on it. Then all you need is the proper number of coins and you can bump the club up to the next level. It probably goes without saying, but higher levels of clubs require more cards and more coins to upgrade.
Besides just being shiny and an excellent store of intrinsic value according to the commercials shown on any cable channel that caters to seniors, gold helps out a lot in PGA Tour Golf Shootout. For starters, it allows you to skip the pesky pack-opening timer if you just can’t wait. As we’ve discussed, it’s also good for buying more packs in the store.
You can buy more gold for real money, but where’s the fun in that? Nowhere, we say. Here’s how to get more gold for free:
- Find it in packs – We said this once already, but it bears repeating. Better packs offer higher chances for gold.
- Watch dem ads – Watching all five ads in the Free Rewards screen will yield you gold, but only for the fifth and final video.
- Advance in the FedEx Cup ranks – Playing and winning matches against other players will earn you points toward increasing your rank in the FedEx Cup, which you can track by tapping on its snazzy logo at the top of any of the primary menu screens. Every 10 ranks will improve the reward pack you receive when the season ends, with better packs paying out in more cards, coins, and gold. You can see how much time remains in the current season at the bottom of the screen.
So you’re well on your way to doing some things in PGA Tour Golf Shootout, but let’s help you do even more. Look out Tiger, here we come!
- Don’t give up after hitting a bad shot – It’s definitely possible to rally from a bad shot in this game, particularly if your opponent isn’t great either. And even tying on a hole isn’t bad, as you’ll earn Tie Tokens which increase the chances of your reward pack improving after future victories.
- Check out clubs’ special abilities – Along with their basic stats, clubs also have special abilities that can buff the stats of other clubs, improve shots under different conditions, and other neat tricks. Read these carefully and choose your clubs with them in mind. Even the position of the clubs in your bag can have positive effects.
- Consider saving multiple bags – After you have unlocked and upgraded a variety of clubs, you’ll have way more than you need. However, the game allows you to have two bag “loadouts,” if you will, and you can unlock even more with coins. It’s helpful to use them in case you are confronted by different kinds of holes. For instance, narrow par-3s might suit a Driver with lower power but more accuracy, while long par-5s call for the big guns across the board. Experiment but definitely take advantage of the option to have multiple bags.
- Don’t overlook solo challenges – While the meat and potatoes of this game is definitely match play against others, there are also solo challenges you’ll find at the top of the main menu or by tapping the ‘Solo’ icon at the bottom. Completing these can earn you some decent loot, and doing more unlocks additional challenges to boot. Hey, that rhymes.
- Wind matters – Yep, just like playing real golf, or so I’m told. Before you start each hole, you’ll get a brief flyover that tells you how hard and in which direction the wind is blowing. Take heed, because it will impact your shots.