Golden Tee Golf
Golden Tee Golf (also known as Golden Tee) is a golf arcade game series by Incredible Technologies. The series started with the release of the original Golden Tee Golf in 1989. One of defining characteristics of the series is its use of a trackball to simulate a golf swing. Since the advent of the series, many sequels have been released adding various new features such as online multiplayer. The series has been considerably popular and tournaments of the game have been organized on a regular basis.
There are many versions of the game that have been created throughout the years, but a fairly consistent feature between them all is the availability of a variety of 18-hole courses with different themes and levels of difficulty. A common motif among many of these courses, especially in more recent versions, is the existence of shortcuts or trick shots to help cut strokes off the player's score. These shortcuts can often make it easier to birdie, eagle, or in rarer cases double eagle than in most golf video games and especially more than in a real round of golf. Another common feature among many of these courses is that the front 9 (first 9 holes) is set up to be easier than the back 9 (last 9 holes). The first couple of holes will normally have wide fairways, flat greens, and low wind speed. The last couple of holes will almost always have hard-to-reach fairways, high winds, and/or heavily-sloped greens.
Even though a player might replay the same course, they may notice some differences each time. The tee boxes may have moved, the winds may have shifted, the pin placements on the green may be different, it might no longer be raining, the water may have risen and the lake may have frozen over - creating a shortcut on a hole that wasn't there before. These changes occur each time a new game is started, creating a unique experience every round.
In addition, there have been many celebrity sound and video recordings that have been built into the game throughout the years. Sportscasters Pat Summerall and Jim Nantz along with professional golfers Peter Jacobsen, Gary Player, Chris DiMarco and Laura Diaz have all contributed advice, sarcastic remarks, and witty criticism to the many versions of the game. Former Golden Tee national champion Steven Sobe has been added to the LIVE versions of the game as a mentor for new players, showing them the basics of the game every time a game is played.
Finally, the creators of Golden Tee are also very fond of adding easter eggs into their games. Things such as aliens, bigfoot, dead bodies, and groundhogs holding Coca-Cola cans are just some of the things that Incredible Technologies has strategically programmed throughout the nooks and crannies of their virtual golf courses, normally when you decide to veer off the beaten path.
|Golden Tee Golf||1989|
|Golden Tee Golf II||1990|
|Golden Tee 3D Golf||1995|
|Golden Tee '97||1996|
|Golden Tee '98||1997|
|Golden Tee '99||1998|
|Golden Tee 2K||1999|
|Golden Tee Fore!||2000|
|Golden Tee Classic||2001|
|Golden Tee Fore! 2002||2001|
|Golden Tee Supreme Edition Tournament||2002|
|Golden Tee Fore! 2003||2002|
|Golden Tee Fore! 2004||2003|
|Golden Tee Fore! 2004 Extra||2003|
|Golden Tee Fore! 2005||2004|
|Golden Tee LIVE||2005|
|Golden Tee Fore! Complete||2005|
|Golden Tee LIVE 2007||2006|
|Golden Tee LIVE 2008||2007|
|Golden Tee 2008 Unplugged||2007|
|Golden Tee LIVE 2009||2008|
|Golden Tee 2009 Unplugged||2008|
|Golden Tee LIVE 2010||2009|
|Golden Tee 2010 Unplugged||2009|
|Golden Tee LIVE 2011||2010|
|Golden Tee 2011 Unplugged||2010|
|Golden Tee LIVE 2012||2011|
|Golden Tee LIVE 2013||2012|
|Golden Tee LIVE 2014||2013|
The original title "Golden Tee Golf" was introduced in 1989 as a 2-D video golf experience. The original title paved the way for Golden Tee 3D in 1995, which was released in a popular coin operated version before being ported to the PC. This was followed by Golden Tee Fore! in 2000. In 2005, Golden Tee LIVE was introduced.
Golden Tee Fore!
Golden Tee Fore! added features such as player identification, statistics tracking and online tournaments. Player identification was enabled through the use of the Golden Tee Card (a.k.a. Golden Tee Gold Card). Players could then use the card's ID number to create an online user account which could be used to track statistics such as average score and greens in regulation. The ID card also allowed the player to enter into weekly and monthly online tournaments which weren't held in real-time, but took the course of days or weeks to complete.
Golden Tee LIVE
The original version of Golden Tee LIVE debuted in 2005, and there have since been eight version updates; namely Golden Tee LIVE 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Along with an updated game engine and customization features, Golden Tee LIVE added the availability of secure updates via the wireless Sprint network or a broadband internet connection. The ability to communicate in real-time with the main player information databases allows for immediate tournament score updates, instant rewarding of prizes, and the ability for players to pay with their credit card.
In the U.S. versions of the game, 18-hole LIVE tournaments cost an additional $1 to play, beyond the normal cost to play 18 holes. When the option to "Play for Prizes" is selected, the player will be automatically entered in a 50-person tournament, where each person is playing the same course with the same teeboxes, wind speed and direction, pin placement and other conditions. These tournaments fill up in queues, of which there is one for each course available for LIVE play. When a new person or persons (up to 4 per machine) enters a queue, the system checks to see if there is room for them in an existing tournament for the course they have selected. If there is no room in an existing tournament, a new tournament is automatically generated behind the scenes, and they become the only person/people playing in that tournament until other players join. Upon completion of the 18-hole round by all 50 players, the tournament entry fees of $1 from each player, for a total of $50, is divided up between the top 20 spots as shown in the table below. In addition, the bottom 30 each receive one of the game's Virtual Balls as consolation.
|5th to 10th||$2|
|11th to 20th||$1|
|21st to 50th||Virtual Ball|
Gameplay and Controls
The game is scored the same way a real game of golf is scored, including penalty strokes given when the player finds a water hazard or hits past an out-of-bounds marker. The game's primary control feature is the requirement of the player to use a trackball, which determines the power and distance of each golf swing, as described in the section below. In most versions of the game, the player must also use the trackball and start button to navigate through the menus to select the course they wish to play, along with other play options. The player is given a choice of whether they want to play a full 18-hole round, a 9-hole round, or pay for 3 holes at a time. If the player chooses to play 9 holes, they will also get to decide whether they want to play the front 9 or the back 9 of the course they selected.
- Turn Left/Right - Before each swing, the player has the ability to turn the player left and right, which effectively changes the initial direction of the ball flight. This ability is controlled by two buttons, labeled "Turn Left" and "Turn Right", which can usually be found on the lower left portion of the console. Thirty-two turns in the same direction will land a player back to where they started.
- Fly By (GT Fore! and LIVE) - When tapped, used to view the "line" from ball lie to hole. Since GT Fore! 2004: when held down, gives the player a "heads-up" forward view from where their ball lies. In GT LIVE versions only: when held down, used in conjunction with "Turn Left" and "Turn Right" to control the volume level.
- Backspin (GT Fore! and LIVE)/Roll (GT LIVE)/Bite (GT LIVE 2012) - Before each swing, the player also has the ability to add backspin, roll or bite to their ball. The main effect of ball spin is to help control what the ball will do once it hits the ground after flight. In general, backspin will pull the ball toward the player, whereas roll will push the ball away from the player. Bite will make the ball stop rather quickly after its first bounce on the green. This action is controlled by a single button usually found on the lower right portion of the console, which did not exist on some of the earlier versions of the game. Instead of a simple button, earlier versions obtained backspin through a complicated understanding of wind, green, backswing, and the speed in which the trackball was struck.
- Changing Clubs - Before each swing, the player may choose to change to a different club than was defaulted to them by the game. To do this, the player must roll the trackball straight to the left for shorter-distance clubs, and to the right for longer-distance clubs.
- Backswing - Backswing involves rolling the trackball toward the player anywhere between the "A" and "C" designators that appear on the surface of the console below the trackball. In general, pulling to the "A" side will give the player a slice or fade effect (curve from left to right), while pulling to the "C" side will give the player a hook or draw effect (curve from right to left). In addition, the amount that is pulled back during the backswing will directly impact the ball's potential flight distance. Note that pulling back on the trackball is not required to "hit" a shot, and, if the trackball is hit firmly, a player's shot will get about the distance shown in the overview map on the lower left side of the screen (without factoring in the effect of the wind). Not pulling back on the trackball equates to a "180-degree shot": if you forward swing to half-way between the "1" and "2" designators, the effect of not pulling back would be the equivalent of pulling back to half-way between the "B" and "C" designators. Also note that putting is generally not affected by pulling back the trackball away from the "B" designator on the console, but only in respect to slice or hook.
- Forward Swing - Forward Swing involves rolling the trackball away from the player (toward the screen) anywhere between the "1" and "3" designators that appear on the console. In general, the initial direction of the ball flight corresponds to the direction of the forward swing, i.e. a swing toward "1" (which appears on the left side of the trackball) will result in the ball initially travelling to the left. Combined with the backswing direction/distance and the type of golf club used, a nearly-infinite array of possibilities is available with every shot.
- Camera Control - After a shot, and while the golf ball is moving, a player can control their view of where the golf ball is by using "Turn Left", "Turn Right", "Fly By" or "Backspin/Roll".
- Speed Up (GT LIVE 2009) - Pressing the yellow "Options" button when a ball is "in play (flight)" will cause the rest of the shot to appear on the screen at double speed without affecting where the ball ends up.
Golden Tee LIVE Options
- Changing Club Sets and Balls (only available to players before they "tee off" on hole number 1) - Once the player has chosen their play options and have selected their course, they can take the option to select which club set and golf balls they wish to use. If no selection is made, each player will be defaulted to the clubs and balls they ended their last game with. Club sets can be purchased for $2 per set and Virtual Balls can be purchased for $0.50 per dozen. The purchased balls increase or decrease features like ball spin, distance, and loft. The option to buy clubs and balls will be given only to those players who have swiped their ID card. Once purchased, the golf club sets are the player's to keep permanently, however the ball total decrements every time a ball goes out of bounds or is lost in a water hazard. Note that there is no requirement to ever purchase additional clubs or balls, as the Stock set of clubs is automatically granted to the player and have an infinite supply of Stock golf balls. Below is a brief synopsis of each type of club available:
- Stock - These clubs are granted to the player free when they first create their account. This is a well-rounded set of clubs for most situations.
- Buzzsaw (formerly Apex FTX) - These clubs are helpful with longer-distance courses due to the lower loft on a couple of clubs.
- Falcon - These clubs are aimed at helping the player get up, over, and around hilly terrain due to the higher-than-normal loft options available.
- Hawk "Hybrids" - This club set is designed to be a better set for rough terrain, and can also be a great set for some long-distance shots.
- Golden Tees (GT LIVE 2011) - Pressing the red "Start" button at the beginning of a hole whill allow you to place a tee anywhere within two club lengths of the tee markers and also allow you to select a "High", Medium" or "Low" tee height off the ground.
- Customizing Golfer Appearance - At any point during a game of Golden Tee, the player may change their appearance by changing their gender, face, and clothing - hats, shirts, pants, shoes. Although the player's look does not have any direct impact on actual gameplay, it allows the person to express themselves in their own unique way. The player's gender, face, and clothing selections will automatically save and carry over from game to game, assuming the same ID card is used. Note that this is only available to players who have swiped their ID card prior to the start of the game.
In the past twenty years, millions of people have played on over 100,000 units in bars and pubs of over a dozen different countries. The many versions of Golden Tee have picked up a variety of awards, including the 1998 AAMA award for "Most Played Video Game" and most recently, the 2004 AMOA Innovator Award for Golden Tee LIVE.
In recent years, there have been yearly regional tournaments in which the winners from the three Golden Tee regions (Midwest, West, and South) form the Team USA for the Golden Tee world. This team will then compete in the annual World Championship for large monetary prizes and pride. For 2008, the regional tournaments have been replaced with one Golden Tee World Championship Tournament. There are also many other tournaments that take place throughout the year, ranging from localized 8-person double-elimination bracket tournaments to organized two or three day tournaments with qualifying rounds that draw hundreds of players from around the U.S. and Canada.
- "What is Golden Tee?". Incredible Technologies.
- May, Scott A. (October 1998), "Golf: the action game?", Computer Gaming World (San Francisco, CA: Ziff-Davis) (171): 54
- "Golden Tee LIVE". Incredible Technologies.
- "Golden Tee LIVE 2008". Incredible Technologies.
- "Golden Tee LIVE Tournament Terms & Conditions". Incredible Technologies.
- "Golden Tee LIVE Tournament Prizes". Incredible Technologies.
- "Golden Tee LIVE Club Set and Virtual Ball Listing". Incredible Technologies.
- "Incredible Technologies' Awards Listing". Incredible Technologies.
- "Golden Tee Regionals - 2007 Information Page". Incredible Technologies.
- "Golden Tee World Championship - 2008 Overview Page". Incredible Technologies.