Gaming

Clap Hanz Golf review – virtual golf that’s fun for everybody


It doesn’t matter whether you like the sport or not; golf video games are universally appealing. The objective is obvious, the basic act of hitting a ball is tactile and satisfying, and there’s a clear path to mastery as you learn conditions and make better shot choices. Clap Hanz, the Japanese developer behind this new Apple Arcade title, has been making PlayStation games called Everybody’s Golf for 20 years. You will either love the wacky presentation or hate it – it’s all horn-rimmed grandmas, emo kids and tourists with comically high waistlines – but if you accept the silliness on its own terms, it pays you back in spades.

Everybody’s Golf relied on well-timed button presses to execute a perfect swing, but the transition to iOS brings touch controls. When you’ve chosen your club and pointed where you want the ball to go, you draw your finger back and then jerk it forward in a straight line to let rip. When you whip your digit clear of the screen, they lean into the follow-through, and the pair of you stare ahead to see whether you hit straight and true.

Clap Hanz Golf ... the busy-looking interface gives you everything you need to play well.
The busy-looking interface gives you everything you need to play well … Clap Hanz Golf. Photograph: Clap Hanz

Your finger obscures the little meter that shows the ideal backswing length, which can be slightly awkward, but otherwise it works brilliantly. After each swing, the game shows the line you drew across the swing meter, indicating at a glance why your ball went flying off to the left and ended up in a sand trap. Over many rounds, you get much better at drawing that line dead straight. Putting relies on a time-honoured web of contour lines on the surface of the green.

Clap Hanz discovered how to make the act of swinging a digital club satisfying many years ago, but keeping it interesting over time is harder. The answer offered here lies in exuberant presentation and a fast-moving conveyor belt of small challenges, rather than lengthy 18-hole marathons. Rounds are parcelled into three- or six-hole competitions, and while there’s a lot of repetition of the same holes, your characters are levelling up each time you play, gaining yards on their swing and reducing their errors. This means you can try for longer drives and riskier routing through complex terrain to shave shots from your scorecard.

Clap Hanz Golf is the culmination of many years’ refinement: from the well-explained tutorials to the finely tuned rate of progression, playing it is like watching a master carpenter hammering out their 50th dining table. Unless you truly have had your fill of these games, this really is everybody’s golf.



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