PGA Tour Golf 96 for Windows 95


EA Sports

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On a cold and snowy January night in Canada, a night when the snow plow has reversed the last three hours work you've done shoveling your driveway, your may utter the words spoken by many a snow-bound soul... "I'd much rather be golfing".

A good get-away from those cold wintry nights is the latest in the PGA Tour series from Electronic Arts, PGA Tour 96. This golf simulation gives you the chance to play on the PGA Tour, with touring pros on two well known golf courses.

Building on past success

The people at Electronic Arts have turned the release of 'yearly update' games into an art form. Apart from PGA Tour, EA has been releasing yearly updates of NHL Hockey, FIFA Soccer and John Madden Football for years. With each successive release of the game, the player is given a few extra features, better graphics or sound and of course an update pro players. In the case of PGA Tour 96, I thought it would be interesting to review this game on two levels, one to rate this game as a stand-alone product and then to stack this game up against its own predecessors, in particular the original PGA Tour Golf which was released by EA in the early 90's.

Modes of Play

Let's first take a look at the game itself. As in previous versions of this golfing classic, you are given four different play options to choose; Practice, Stroke Play, Tournament Play and the Skins Game. In Practice and Stroke Play modes, you can choose which tees to start from; red being the easiest and black being the toughest. Mulligans (golf lingo for 'I screwed up and want to take my shot over without penalty') and tap-ins (also referred to as a 'gimme') are also allowed in these modes of play. In Tournament Play, your skills are matched against this year's PGA professionals in an 18, 36 or 72 hole tournament. As on the real PGA Tour, you must play a good enough round in order to 'make the cut' and be allowed to play in the next round. Making the cut means you have finished in the top 40 golfers. Generally speaking, you'll need to shoot at most two shots over par in order to make the cut. In Skins play, you are opposed by one to three other players (computer or human) on a hole-by-hole basis. That is, each hole is worth a certain amount of cash, or skin. Whomever manages to beat all the other golfers by at least one stroke wins the skin. If one or more players ties for the lead at a particular hole, the skin is 'halved', meaning the money is forwarded to the next hole.

One new mode of play is the Shootout mode. In this elimination style play, four players take to the course to play three consecutive holes on the course. The player who finishes last at the first hole is eliminated from further play. The same thing happens on the second hole and the third hole decides the winner. If two or more players are tied, the program will randomly place a ball off of the green, where each of the tied players are given the chance play the ball. Whoever makes the worst shot (i.e. his ball is furthest from the hole) is eliminated.

At this level, PGA Tour 96 manages only a minor improvement over previous versions of the game. That improvement being the Shootout mode.


PGA Tour 96 offers two courses to play; the first being the TPC at Avenel in Potomac, Maryland and the second is the Spyglass Hill in Pebble Beach, California. While one of the courses, TPC at Avenel, is the same course that was in the original PGA Tour Golf, you wouldn't think so by looking at it. If there's one thing that's changed in the five years since PGA Tour was first released, it's graphics quality. While the original offered decent, playable graphics, PGA Tour 96 really makes you feel like you're playing the course. The graphic quality on this and the Spyglass Hill course is simply breathtaking.

The TPC at Avenel course, for years the home of the Kemper Open, is the easier of the two courses to master and is likely the course the first time player will want to attack. That's not to say it's an easy course, the narrow doglegs and treacherous water hazards are enough to give even touring pros nightmares. However, the Spyglass Hill course, with it's picturesque views of the Pacific ocean is certainly much more challenging. Considered one of the toughest courses anywhere, Spyglass Hill is a challenge that players will appreciate.

Additional course disks are available separately from EA Sports.

Even though the original PGA Tour Golf came with three courses, PGA Tour 96 once again gets the nod at the course level thanks to its superb graphics and ability to add additional courses.

Game play

There really hasn't been much change to PGA Tour in terms of game play since it was first introduced. As always, the player controls the back- swing and wrist action of each shot with a click on the mouse. Click once and the 'power bar' starts moving from zero to 100% power. A second mouse click stops the power bar and begins the downswing of the club. A third click, done at precisely the right time controls the amount of wrist action you put on the swing. Too much wrist action (or too little) and you could find your ball slicing out of bounds.

The game also still includes the most realistic ball action of any game in the market. That is, if you put a backspin on the ball, it will draw back when it hits the ground.

In terms of game play, we're sorry to say that there really hasn't been any improvement over the original game, other than the increased pleasure of playing on nicer looking golf course. So, at this level, we've got to call it a draw.

Additional Features

Much like previous versions, PGA Tour 96 gives you the chance play in a tournament against actual PGA Tour professionals. While some of the names have changed, this isn't really a feature that offers anything new. Something that is new, however, is the ability to play against one of your friends via the EA Sports Net. What that means is you have the option to connect to your golf partner via a Local Area Network or via a modem connection.

Here is a situation where we have a new feature which may or may not be used by the average game players. If you are an avid golfer, and enjoy beating your friends by a few strokes, the modem play feature alone is probably worth the price of the game. If you're like this reviewer and usually play your simu-golf games alone, you probably could do without this feature. For this reason, we give PGA Tour 96 a slight advantage over its predecessors.


All in all, PGA Tour 96 is an excellent golf package. However, players of more recent versions of the game than the one used as a comparison here, say for example last year's PGA European Tour, should be warned that PGA Tour 96 doesn't offer any significant advantages.

For the first time purchases however, this reviewer recommends PGA Tour 96 wholeheartedly. It's superb graphics, realistic game play and expansion possibilities make it an excellent pickup for any golf fan.

Written by Mike McGrath

Click here for screen shots.



System Requirements:

DOS Configuration

MD-DOS 5.0 or later,
486 DX2-66Mhz or higher,
Min 8Mb memory,
Hard disk drive with 35Mb free,
SVGA 256-color graphic card with 1Mb memory,
Double-speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
Microsoft mouse or 100% compatibles,
Sound Blaster cards family, Gravis UltraSound supported.

Windows 95 Configuration

486 DX2-66Mhz or higher,
Min 8Mb memory,
Hard disk drive with 35Mb free,
VLB or PCI 256 colors video graphic card with 1Mb memory compatible with DirectX 2,
Double-speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
Microsoft mouse with driver version 6.0 or higer or 100% compatible,
Windows 95 and Direct X2 compatible sound card.

Multi-player options

IPX/SPX or TCP/IP compatible network for two to four players, 9600 BPS modem or higher for two players.

Developers & Publishers

In North America:

EA Sports,
1450 Fashion Island Blvd.,
San Mateo, CA 94404.

Technical Support:415-572-2787 Monday to Friday 8:30am-11:45am 1:00pm-4:30pm PST
Fax Support:415-286-5080 Monday to Friday 8:30am-4:30pm

Web site: EA Sports
Customer Support on the Internet: Customer Support

In Europe:

In UK:

Electronic Arts UK Ltd.,
P.O. Box 835,
Slough, Berkshire, SL3 8XU.

Technical Support:+44-(0)1753-546465

Internet Support: Electronic Arts UK

In France:

Electronic Arts France,
3 Rue Claude Chappe,
69771 Saint Didier au Mont D'or Cedex.

Internet Support: Electronic Arts France

In Germany:

Electronic Arts GmbH.,
Verler Str. 1,
333332 Gutersloth.

Internet Support: Electronic Arts Germany

In Sweden:

Electronic Arts,
Business Campus,
Johanneslundsvogen 2,
194 81 Upplandsvasby.

In Spain:

Electronic Arts Software S.A.,
Edificio Arcade,
Rufino Gonzalez 23 bis,
Planta 1a, Local 2,
28037 Madrid.

In Pacific:

In Australia:

Electronic Arts Pty. Ltd,
P.O. Box 432,
Southport, Qld 4215.

Technical Support:1-902-263-163 2.00 per min Seven days a week 8:30am to 10:30pm
Game play, hints and tips:1-902-262-062 1.00 per min

Internet Support: Electronic Arts Australia

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