Released in 1987, Great Golf was the only golf title released on the Master System here in the United States. While the game is far from terrible, it does little to live up to its name.
It supports match and stroke play and allows up to four players, which is generous compared to most NES golf games. Like many golf games of its age, it includes only one course. During play, the left half of the screen shows an overhead map of the hole, while the right side of the screen displays a view from behind the player. The map leaves you with no way to even estimate distances, making it basically useless.
To set up a shot, you choose a club, adjust your footing, and then set the direction in which the ball will be hit. The game does not employ a 3-click swing system, instead using a power meter that automatically rises and falls, requiring you to simply tap the button when the meter reaches its desired level. To putt, you have to look at a pair of cross-sections of the green to determine if the shot is uphill or down and which way the ball will break.
Before each shot, it takes a couple of seconds for the player view to be rendered on the screen which slows the game down a little bit. The graphics are a bit more detailed than the average NES game, but the poor animation makes it appear as though the ball slowly floats off the tee and drifts off into the distance some time after the golfer completes his swing. The unrealistic ball physics further detract from the game as even a mild breeze has a dramatic effect on the ball, making it feel like wiffle golf.
Great Golf does a poor job of recreating the feel of playing the game of golf, and it’s a shame that it’s the only option available on the Master System.