When you hear "World Golf Tour", unless you're a fan of golf your first response would probably be a big fat yawn. World Golf Tour Online, however, is something even non-fans would appreciate, as it is both easy to learn, and relaxing to play.
You start by painlessly setting up your account, for free, and picking your own avatar to represent you on the courses. You're then put into the game on your own in a tutorial of sorts, which you can opt out of any any point, where you learn how to putt and in turn put the lessons to practice. By your 18th hole you've already learned the gist of what to do, and all that's left is to fine-tune it.
As you play you also learn to factor in other things, such as wind strength and direction, how far your target is versus how far you can potentially hit the ball, and which club you should use. The game sets you up for each shot with the club it recommends, but you can always change it. Using a timed meter at the bottom of your screen, you must time your 'shot' as close to the target spot as you can in order to make the perfect shot.
The game is shown in the third person, with your avatar front and centre. If you want to see the course from different angles the choices are limited, but are available, via pre-designated camera angles you can choose on the map. These are extra handy for tricky shots, where you need to factor in slopes on the green to aim your shot well.
You earn XP (experience) for each shot you make, which unlocks various supplies and locations available to you, and you earn all the more for each medal you earn. Medals can include landing on the green, amongst others, which will cause your first few rounds to be full of earned medals of varying sorts. If you're terrible, or simply are taking shots without trying, the game will prompt you to become a 'better player' by offering a link to watch tutorial videos to improve your game. You can replay any course to improve on your previous scores; even tournaments have unlimited play, enabling limitless improvement on your game.
There are many types of games to choose from, including closest-to-the-hole, blitz, stroke play, match play, and alternate shot. Certain ones in certain maps aren't available until you unlock them with credits, however, there are plenty of others available that will leave you having a good time without having to unlock other courses You can create a game for others to play with you, join a game yourself, or simply play on your own for fun or practice. There are even tournaments where the winner can earn credits, new avatars or clubs, and in some cases an actual trip for the player to attend in real life.
Played in courses based on real-life locations, such as Kiawah Island and Bali Hai, this game has a lot of visual appeal. Golfers will be happy to 'play' on these familiar territories, and those who aren't familiar will still appreciate the detail applied to a game that is free for anyone to play.
You can 'shop' in the virtual 'store' to upgrade your virtual drivers, woods, irons, wedges, putters, even golf balls, represented by actual name brands such as Lynx and PING. Each item has a brief description of its attributes, complete with reviews from online users describing how and why they feel the way they do about them. Once you've decided on what you want, you can 'purchase' your choices using online credits. These credits are the only thing you actually pay for in the game (at $5 per 500 credits), though if you enter tournaments and win you can earn credits that way and not pay a cent. You can also take surveys, or shop online via third-parties to earn credits as well. Once you've purchased your virtual equipment, it is yours to keep for the duration of your stay at wgt.com. If you're not sure of what to get, or simply want to test it out, you can 'rent' what you'd like for a 24-hour period before you decide to buy.
The online community is ever-present on the site. Not only can you play online with strangers and friends on various courses, but you can join others in online tournaments, with people all over the world. You have access to your very own Facebook-like feel Profile Page to stay connected, complete with a Friend's List, blog, videos of replays you saved from epic rounds you've played, a summary of your score history and awards, and there's an Instant Message feature you can enable or disable as you wish.
While I'm personally not a fan of golf, I have to admit this was pretty fun to play. Even though you simply click and shoot, there's still a bit of problem-solving when you factor in hazards, wind, and your avatar's potential stroke distance. I felt accomplished whenever I successfully landed a difficult shot, and yet I didn't feel strained or stressed while I played; it was simply a relaxing day at the golf courses, all from the comfort of my home. When you consider the fact it's all for free, there isn't really anything to complain about.
World Golf Tour's WGT.com is already ready for play, from the comfort of your own home.