Originally Published: June 22, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com), Lundberg.me, and Examiner.com

Right off the bat I’m going to admit that I’m not a golf aficionado to say the very least. In honor, though, of the conclusion of the U.S. Open, especially since it is being played in nearby Bethpage Golf Course in Farmingdale, NY, I am taking this time to review EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.

I sheepishly admit that I got addicted to this game for the entire weekend and for someone with as many games as I have to play, to devote an entire weekend to one game, shows how good this game is. It’s not going to dazzle you with graphics, but I think this is easily the best simulation for a sport there is right now, from mimicking the difficulty of sinking a 10 foot putt to trying to play in the rain at Bethpage.

I found myself wanting to throw my controller after every missed putt like I was actually living it. And this was on only the first hole of the Buick Invitational. The new putt-precision system is a nice addition and does make it a little easier for amateurs like myself, but for you pros out there with Tiger, you can simply up the difficulty for that more classic feel.

The putt-precision system though does need a little tweaking. Allowing only one look at how your ball will track is a little frustrating and can actually up the pressure if you see that your current path will send the ball spiraling into the fringe if your corrections aren’t enough to sink the putt. One thing, though, that can really push the casual player away is how the consequences for squandering a putt opportunity, as opposed to a normal shot, are extremely harsh and unforgiving.

If you have the Wii, these problems are a little less noticeable since with the inclusion of the 1:1 Motion Plus sensor with the game, you can judge your shots with a little more accuracy than with the analog stick on a Xbox 360 or PS3 controller making this the first preferred sports game for the Wii, at this point in time. Add in the lack of processing power needed for the simple graphics (grass is grass, whether in 480i or 1080p) and the Wii might be the best buy of the bunch for this particular game.

Along with an extensive career mode, that will lead you through every major as you try to up your stats to near-Tiger levels and became a tour de force, the game now includes a Tournament Challenge mode. In this mode, you can relive some of the most impressive performances in tour history at some of the most famous courses from Bay Hill to Sawgrass to help you unlock new and better clubs and louder and more interesting clothing apparel.

Include live, online tournaments, mini-games, and plenty of other multi-player options; if you are a golf fan, this game is your dream come true. Even if not a golf fan, you’re going to have a good time and find yourself mildly addicted if you’re anywhere near as competitive as someone like me. Just don’t go smashing too many controllers.

The only real knock on the game is as with most sports games that the commentary gets tired very fast and Scott Van Pelt is tired to begin with so you might want to grab your iPod or put a CD on to cover up the droll ramblings. Other than that, this is an early front-runner for sports simulation of the year. Of course, that could change very quickly with Fight Night Round 4 coming out shortly.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is out now for all systems.

Ratings are based on a score of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Graphics: 8.0: There aren’t a lot of knocks here in terms of graphics, but it doesn’t exactly push any system’s threshold either. There are only so many ways to make grass look good, especially when not supporting 1080i or 1080p.

Audio: 6.0: A generic music playlist is disappointing considering the lineups EA usually compiles, but it is a golf game. Coupled with repetitive, dry commentary (even for golf) and the audio is a clear weakness for this game.

Plot/Plot Development: N/A: It’s a sports simulation…

Gameplay: 9.0: Although the putting is frustrating to say the least, I think that it adds a level of difficulty that you would only see if you were playing on a real course so I can forgive it. Even having people in the crowd reacting from some shots that slice astray was a nice touch to this spectacular sports simulation.

Replay Value: 10.0: If you like golf, you’ll keep coming back to this game over and over again until next year’s release. Mini-games, online play, an extensive career mode, and now the Tournament Challenge mode along with tons of unlockable content will keep every golfer happy for a long time.

Overall: 9.0: (not an average) The putting system can be frustrating at times and the game doesn’t exactly stimulate the senses. Of course, it’s not like there is any competition for golf games out there since EA has the monopoly on the field like with their Madden franchise. The gameplay, though, is what makes this game and if the game of golf is what gets you pumped up then you’ll be all set for another year as Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 improves on their already high golf gaming standard.

-Ray Carsillo