I couldn’t wait to try out Pro Putt by Topgolf.
A few years ago, a well-meaning friend gave my husband and me a $50 gift card to a Topgolf driving range as a Christmas present. I love golf and often spend time at driving ranges, pitch-n-putts, and every once in a while, I’ll shell out the not-so-cheap greens fees to play on a real course. I was looking forward to going to the high-end Topgolf near us. As much as we wanted to go, after doing a little research, we realized a night out at Topgolf would cost us a lot more than $50 and knew we should wait until we had a little more disposable cash to throw around.
If you’ve never heard of it, Topgolf runs a franchise of different high end, multi-level driving ranges, and sports simulators. They’re paired with luxury style lounges that serve food and drinks and provide more of a group nightlife activity than sports outing. So when I heard that Topgolf created a VR mini-golf game for the Oculus Quest, I was first in line to review it…and I wasn’t disappointed.
The world Pro Putt creates is simple in design. The sky above you and all of your surroundings are low polygon cartoonish designs. The scenery around you is playful and unrealistic, and that appears to be a very conscious design choice. However, when you zero in on the detail, you can tell that the putting greens and the grass surrounding the holes are substantially more sophisticated. They’re also topographically as complex as any real mini-golf course I’ve seen.
Tutorial and features
The first time you open Pro Putt, you are walked through a simple tutorial to get you familiar with the controls. The tutorial is well designed and walks you through proper putting form. I appreciated the much-needed refresher. You are informed that you only are going to need one controller and to put the controller for your non-dominant hand away, which is good since it would be weird to use two controllers. You’re introduced and encouraged to practice other key features available to you. There’s a “giant mode,” which allows you to look at the course from high above as though you were…a giant. If you press the grip button at any point, your view will switch to a topographical layout of the putting green. The topographical layout will allow you to view you the slants, hills, and valleys of the particular green you’re on. I found this particular view very helpful in gauging how much force I needed for my swing.
The tutorial also informs you that when the ball is transparent, you can practice-swing through the ball until you hit the trigger button, which will make the ball live. The tutorial also walks you through a guiding feature that I wish existed in real life: if you have a direct path to the hole, you will see it as a yellow trail with arrows.
The objective of Campaign mode is to work your way around the three courses in beginner mode and then in pro mode. To progress from hole to hole, you have to score at or below par on that hole. If you go over the recommended number of strokes for a particular hole, you repeat that hole until you score at or below par. Only after you successfully play through an entire course are you allowed to unlock the next course, each successively harder than the last. Once you’ve unlocked a course, you can play it any time by selecting the “Play a Round” option in the main menu, without having to worry about your score. Once you play through the first three courses in campaign mode, you will unlock the Pro versions of these courses. The most notable difference in the Pro versions is that while pressing the grip button will still show you the topographical layout of the putting green, you will no longer be given a direct-path indicator to follow.
I really enjoyed the campaign mode in Pro Putt. As I played through the campaign mode, I heavily utilized the grip button to see the lay of the putting green. Again, I wish something like that existed in real life.
I also liked the unlockable features throughout the campaign mode, like custom golf balls that would pop up as treasure boxes for you to open as you achieved new milestones. The treasure boxes were a playful touch that completely charmed me.
Playing in campaign mode on these golf courses reminded me of playing rounds of golf on Wii Sports. I will say this was better simply because I wasn’t staring at a flat-screen and felt far more immersed. While the weight of the controller isn’t anywhere near the heft of a real putter, I found myself looking down and walking around the ball and studying the course as if it were the real thing. Even with the low polygon graphics, I still felt that somewhat relaxed feeling I get just by being outside.
The mechanics of the three golf courses are a little unrealistic, but not terrible. In real life, I have gotten an eagle exactly once in my lifetime on a golf course. I will remember that day forever, possibly due to the slack jaws of the men in my party. So far in Pro Putt, I’ve got an eagle (and even a few hole-in-ones!) on several holes in the beginner and pro versions, which I can’t imagine ever happening again in real life. My real-life mini-golf game might improve slightly from my practice in Pro Putt. The game mechanics are just realistic enough to encourage you to keep your head down, keep your eye on the ball, and swing using your body, rather than only your wrists. There is definitely a little aim assist (at least in the beginner modes) happening, and frankly, my fragile little ego is okay with that for now.
In multiplayer mode, you can choose from any of the available courses, whether or not you’ve unlocked them in campaign mode. You can choose to have a private match where you can invite someone from your friend’s list to play with, play against a random opponent, or play against a bot. The gameplay for all three is exactly the same, though you can’t socialize with a bot, and, with a bot, you can choose their skill level. If you decide to wait for a random person, you are transported to the practice green and can practice your aim while you wait to be paired.
Once you’re paired, your opponent is an invisible person, identified only by a baseball cap and their putter. You can’t choose your hat, but I didn’t mind that.
When in multiplayer, whoever putts their ball into the hole first wins the hole, regardless of how many shots it took. Once someone wins a hole (or when both players tie), you just move on to the next one. I wish this was how it worked in real life. I think back to those rounds of mini-golf, patiently waiting for the last person to finally sink their six-over-par ball…All while the next group of people loudly cough at the start waiting for us to finish up so they could finally play.
If there was one thing I wished Pro Putt had, it would be a local party mode. While passing a headset back and forth might be a little annoying, it would be really nice to play a round of mini-golf with my husband; especially now while lockdown orders are still in place in our state, and we’re not willing to go out and risk playing the real thing.
The Putt Lounge is set outdoors, under a starry night sky. A Low polygon fire dances next to you, and you hear low voices and chill music in the background. Behind you are a set of stairs and a set of low virtual couches. In front of you is a sort of driving range (putting range?) with goals painted on the green, set up for whichever one of the four mini-games you’ve chosen to play. There are four mini-games available in the Putt Lounge: Topgolf, Top Pressure, Quick Nine, and Quick Nine Pro. These mini-games are fast, challenging, and a lot of fun. They’re tough without being discouragingly difficult. I could have played for hours, and I will probably go back to these again and again. The only thing I found strange was that these mini-games, in a lounge that looked designed for socializing, had no multiplayer option.
Especially during this pandemic, I would love to challenge my husband to one of these quick matches as a part of a stay at home date. Even during normal circumstances, this would have been an excellent addition to a random game night with friends.
I might not have time for an entire round of golf with a friend over the internet during normal conditions, but mini-games in the putt lounge would have been a nice, quick way to socialize. I will also quickly note that the game mechanics in the putt lounge aren’t quite as good as they are on the courses. A little flick of my wrist and the ball went flying.
There are only three courses with two levels of difficulty and four mini-games in Pro Putt. You can play through every single aspect of this game within a few short hours. However, I still think this game has some great staying power. You may or may not get addicted to this game, but you’ll enjoy playing it. It’s just challenging enough that you’ll want to come back to it every once and awhile whenever you just need a quick break.
I could easily see myself popping in for a round of mini-golf with my VR buddies. As far as long-term playability goes, I think the developers of Pro Putt, Golf Scope Inc., missed a real opportunity by making the Putt Lounge a solo game. The Putt Lounge mini-games reminded me so much of nights spent in a college pub, playing shuffleboard and darts with my friends, that I found myself getting a little nostalgic. Adding Putt Lounge to the multiplayer options could have easily added some real staying power to this title. Despite that miss, I know I’ll be coming back again and again to the courses and the Putt Lounge to improve my score.
So, next time I go mini-golfing in real life, will I wow everyone with the mad putting skills I learned from Pro Putt? Sadly, no, I don’t think the game mechanics are realistic enough to have an impact on my real-world mini-golf game. I believe Pro Putt could be improved by adding a local party mode and adding the Putt Lounge to the games available in the multiplayer modes. But I’m okay with this game as is because right now, Pro Putt is precisely the game I needed. Every once in a while, we all need to escape real life for a few minutes, slow down and play a fun, wholesome, quick game of golf.
If you’re looking for Golf games on the Quest, you might also want to check out our CloudLands 2 review.