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Golf returns to the fore this August in PGA Tour 2K21

With Justin Thomas on the cover, HB Studios’ golf sim heads to consoles, PC, and Stadia

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The announcement trailer for 2K Sports’ PGA Tour 2K21.
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Golf events on the PGA Tour schedule have been pushed back into late spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s now a bright spot on the calendar for golf fans: PGA Tour 2K21 is scheduled to be released Aug. 21 on Google Stadia, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One, publisher 2K Sports announced Thursday.

The debut trailer for PGA Tour 2K21, which 2K published along with the first details about the game, introduces 2017 FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas as the game’s cover athlete. It also shows off a variety of golf courses — there will be 15 real-life courses from PGA Tour events in the game, “each of which was scanned using cutting-edge technology to bring the fairways, greens, bunkers, trees, lakes and ponds to life,” 2K said in a news release. That’s a significant increase from the six Players Championship courses that 2K’s previous golf title, The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA Tour, launched with in 2018.

While 2K’s news release did not name any of the courses in PGA Tour 2K21, here’s a list of the ones we could identify by scrubbing through the trailer, along with their accompanying PGA Tour events:

  • East Lake Golf Club (PGA Tour Championship)
  • Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club (Valspar Championship)
  • Riviera Country Club (Genesis Invitational)
  • TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic)
  • TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic)
  • TPC San Antonio (Valero Texas Open)
  • TPC Sawgrass (The Players Championship)
  • TPC Scottsdale (Waste Management Phoenix Open)
  • TPC Twin Cities (3M Open)

PGA Tour 2K21 is technically the fourth iteration of HB Studios’ The Golf Club franchise, and the first one since The Golf Club 2019. HB, an independent developer based in Nova Scotia, Canada, inked a publishing deal with 2K Sports for that game, and their partnership is continuing this year. The Golf Club 2019 was the first entry in HB’s series to carry the PGA Tour license, and just like that game, PGA Tour 2K21 will feature a PGA Tour-branded career mode. It’s also carrying over one of the main components of The Golf Club: a full-fledged course design mode that lets you create the golf paradise of your dreams.

In addition to Thomas, PGA Tour 2K21 will feature 11 real-life professional golfers. There aren’t yet any details on who those other athletes are, but 2K said that players will compete against them in the career mode; the pros won’t be playable themselves. Either way, it appears from the trailer that HB has worked to improve the graphics for PGA Tour 2K21: The visuals look markedly better than they did in The Golf Club 2019. The presentation upgrades don’t end there — 2K said the game will feature “dynamic cutscenes and a seamless replay system,” along with play-by-play commentary from Luke Elvy, a broadcaster and journalist, and Rich Beem, an analyst and former pro golfer.

“Our goal is to create the most authentic golf simulation experience ever, and HB Studios brings that authenticity in PGA TOUR 2K21, which is a true 2K game in every sense, incorporating realism, depth and fun that appeals to golf aficionados and casual fans alike,” said Chris Snyder, vice president of marketing for 2K.

PGA Tour 2K21 box art with Justin Thomas, wearing blue/black camo pants and a blue padded vest, completing a swing
Justin Thomas is the cover athlete for PGA Tour 2K21.
Image: HB Studios/2K Sports

Another element that will make PGA Tour 2K21 a “true 2K game” is microtransactions, like the ones in other sports titles from major publishers. 2K Sports toned down the presence of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K20, and it’s always been possible to unlock items by earning VC through play, but that doesn’t necessarily eliminate the social pressure to spend real money. (A suite of local and online multiplayer modes will be available in PGA Tour 2K21.)

Customization items for created MyPlayer golfers in PGA Tour 2K21 will include licensed apparel and equipment from brands such as Adidas, Polo Ralph Lauren, and TaylorMade Golf. Reached for comment, a 2K Sports representative told Polygon that VC can only be used to unlock cosmetic items; in other words, microtransactions won’t confer an advantage over other players.

PGA Tour 2K21 will be available for $59.99 on all platforms. 2K is also offering a Digital Deluxe Edition for $69.99 that comes with a bundle of 2,300 VC as well as two add-on packs of clothes, accessories, and golf clubs.

Correction: A previous version of this story indicated that PGA Tour 2K21 would allow people to play as the 12 real-life golfers in the game. That is not the case; a 2K Sports spokesperson clarified to Polygon that the pros will appear only as opponents in the career mode, and will not be playable. We’ve edited the article to reflect this.

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