It would be fair to say that The Golf Club/PGA Tour 2K series picked up where EA SPORTS left their golf games. Prior to the release of EA SPORTS PGA TOUR, the last golf entry from EA was back in 2015 with Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, by which point The Golf Club had dipped their toe in and liked the sensation. Four games later from HB Studios and EA have come back swinging with their own golf game.
But which is best? Is it PGA Tour 2K23 or EA SPORTS PGA TOUR? Well, luckily for you, we are here to answer that question. Running against the criteria of courses, roster, features, gameplay and presentation, we are going to pit the two together and give you the ultimate answer. Let’s hit the links and find out.
Unlike say, a FIFA or a Madden game where their green bits play identical amongst stadiums, the courses that appear in a golf game can make or break it. It is one of the most crucial features, allowing players to play the courses of their dreams that may not be otherwise possible.
At launch, PGA Tour 2K23 launched with twenty-four courses, compared to EA SPORTS PGA TOUR’s thirty. Courses such as Torrey Pines, TPC Sawgrass and Pebble Beach feature across both but EA SPORTS’ title has arguably the two most famous courses in the world up its sleeve: The Old Course at St Andrews and Augusta National. The latter being playable in a golf game for the first time since Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14.
Whilst Augusta National alone is enough to give this round to EA SPORTS, PGA Tour 2K23 does technically boast an unlimited number of courses thanks to the course creator feature. However, in this instance it is quality over quantity, and the winner is EA.
Winner: EA SPORTS PGA TOUR
For years, Tiger Woods graced the cover of the annual EA SPORTS golf game. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when 2K got the rights for one of the greatest golfers of all-time that they would plaster him all over their front cover. But who else is included?
Once again there are crossovers with the likes of Xander Schuffele, Tony Finau and Lexi Thompson all appearing in both. EA SPORTS has a selection of golfers from both the PGA and LIV tours, whereas 2K has purely focused on the PGA roster. There are some big names on the LIV Tour, but it remains controversial, so think what you will of their inclusion.
EA SPORTS is also missing Jon Rahm who, after winning the latest Masters tournament and becoming world number one, is a big omission.
Both games feature a small handful of LPGA Tour golfers. The aforementioned Thompson plus Brooke Henderson and Lydia Ko for 2K, and Nelly and Jessica Korda, Jin Young Ko, Danielle Kang for EA. It is a start, but not enough compared to the men’s list.
But, once again 2K has an ace up its sleeve with playable characters away from the world of golfing. From launch they have had Steph Curry and Michael Jordan as playable characters, and have more recently added John Cena and the guys over at Barstool Golf as well. The former personalities are all from 2K making use of their various licenses in NBA 2K23 and WWE 2K23, and it’s this that has earned them the point here.
Winner: PGA Tour 2K23
Both games feature extensive single-player Career modes and for the majority of players, these will be the main focus. But what else is included to distract you from aiming for the FedEx Championship?
2K has the previously mentioned course creator which can easily take up a chunk of time for those who are of a creative persuasion. It also features Topgolf, playable in both local and online multiplayer. For those that don’t know, Topgolf is a social golf space set in various locations in the real world. Think of it as like a bowling alley but for golf; the emphasis is more on fun rather than skill.
EA hasn’t necessarily gone for ‘bloating the game with modes’ approach. There are challenges to undertake, along with live ones based on the current real-world major being played, but no exclusive modes. Instead, they have tried to make the most realistic looking golf game of all-time. And they really have: courses play drastically differently from one another and you can see how the shadows change as you progress on your round and the night draws in. EA have also painstakingly recreated these courses using custom Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology that is more realistic than public sources. For the layman out there, that basically means you can see the individual blades of grass.
Both games will feature post-release content as well, only increasing the amount on offer here, but for the sheer attention to detail, it has to go to EA on this round.
Winner: EA SPORTS PGA TOUR
PGA Tour 2K23 attempts to be much more of a simulation golf title, as opposed to EA SPORTS PGA TOUR simulation. The reason behind this is because EA’s offering is still rooted in the past with more arcade-inspired options, and I mean that in a good way. Being able to boost your shot power and adding spin after you have hit the ball are all present once again in EA PGA, but do somewhat dampen the simulation realism.
Also perhaps leaning towards the arcade style is 2K’s inclusion of a three-click system, reminiscent of some of the very early golf titles. The use of analog sticks is present in both, but the inclusion on 2K’s part at least attempts to bring newcomers in.
But once again, I am going to give this round to EA. It’s the sum of the parts; the huge variety of different shots, the pseudo-arcade/sim gameplay and the one feature that every single game needs, the Heartbeat Moments. Nothing beats the moment you hit a shot that is arrowed into the hole and the speed slows down, the camera focuses in and a beating heart comes out of the speakers. The first time you get a Heartbeat Moment, you know you’ve hit a special shot.
Winner: EA SPORTS PGA TOUR
Our final criteria is for presentation. Both games replicate golf well enough, but which one has those little extras? The touches that elevate the game from very good, to excellent?
First off, I will say that the fact that neither game has a licensed soundtrack feels like a trick missed. The intro to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 with Party Up by the late DMX blaring is iconic. And what music is present in these latest games isn’t the greatest.
The green and yellow of The Masters sets the tone for EA SPORTS PGA TOUR though. It is used in the main menus and also in the presentation when playing on Augusta. When not on that course, the UI is crisp and presents all the information you need. This is coupled with commentary that provides useful info for each hole and a wide variety of feedback based on performances in recent tournaments.
How does 2K hold up?
Well, one of my biggest gripes for PGA Tour 2K23 was in relation to the pretty lifeless courses. This, and the very long delays between loading up a replay really do pull you out of the moment of hitting a good shot. As a result, I think you know which way this point is heading again.
Winner: EA SPORTS PGA TOUR
So we get to the final score and are left with: PGA Tour 2K23 1 vs 4 EA SPORTS PGA TOUR
For 2K’s sake, it is a shame that this isn’t golf scoring where the lowest score wins. But the truth of the matter is that EA SPORTS PGA TOUR is night and day better than PGA Tour 2K23. In years gone by where there hasn’t been an EA offering, the 2K option has been the only real choice. And whilst it is a solid golf game in its own right, up against competition it is way behind. And sadly, not even Michael Jordan and John Cena can do much to improve it.
The winner, EA SPORTS PGA TOUR is out now for Xbox Series X|S from £69.99. The runner-up, PGA Tour 2K23 is available for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S priced from £59.99. I guess you could give another point to 2K for a cheaper game, but that £10 difference is worth it for the superior game.
Let us know how you feel about these golfing masterpieces by dropping into the comments. It feels like we may need to rewrite our best golfing games article…
I’ve just bought the 2K23 version for 22 quid. I’ve played a lot of PGA games, right back to Megadrive days, but not played any since Rory McIlroy on the Xbox. I wasn’t sure why there were two ‘new’ PGA games so I went for the cheap option without much research, I’ve barely scratched 2K23 but even the training got me frustrated. The timing of the stroke is something you must get right, yet there is no (that I’m aware of) method of knowing when to push the stick forward to get the sweet spot. I ended up hooking 90% of the training shots, slicing a few then without knowing how – hitting one in the right place to move on. I’ve downloaded the EA free trial now but will likely end up getting it as I miss the ‘spin’ and ‘power’ options. I don’t care if it’s real or not..it’s about fun for me.
I totally disagree. I stumped up 70 quid in a pre order for the EA game whilst playing 2K23. Couldn’t believe how bad it ended up compared to 2K23. I guess I just don’t like the arcade feeling. I think the perspective is too close to the player and there is no sense of space like on a real course. You can’t even see the ball a second or so after hitting so it switches to follow mode. 2K23 feels like you have loads of space and if you disable the automatic ball follow, you get a massive sense of satisfaction watching your ball from first person perspective. Smoking a perfect drive down the fairway still feels awesome after months of playing. If you play society games there are amazing course creators out there creating beautiful and interesting courses to play. I’ve ditched EA and gone back to 2K23.
Yes there are problems with 2K23 but by far the most enjoyable game for me.
You might disagree but 2k23 has very poor swing mechanics compared to EA. it’s doesn’t play or look like an authentic golf swing and why are you praising that course creator? Every fake course I’ve come across looks and plays horrible! if I am playing a PGA tour golf game, I want to play REAL pga courses! Not these made up rubbish ones. what is the point in 2k being in partnership with the pga tour if there game has a course creator? I HATE that feature.
There definitely ain’t no competition here EA Sports are the clear winners in this battle. Well let’s face it their competitor is a JOKE. the only thing 2k have got that is good is tiger woods. Hopefully he will see sense and go back to EA. 2k and HB studios know NOTHING about golf, there gameplay is embarrassing, not enough REAL pga tour courses, too many fake rubbish ones, what is the point of being in partnership with the pga tour if your only concern is that awful course creator. They might as well just make a golf game WITHOUT any deal with the pga tour. Just call golf 2k. so do us all a favour 2k and STOP making golf games! stick to Nba and Wwe.