We have to admit that we rather enjoyed the days when the most exciting things on the fairway were Seve's slacks and Brucie's syrup. But you can't stop progress and golf is now an incredibly fashionable sport featuring increasingly youthful players, glamorous pro/celeb tournaments and a clubhouse full of ultra-realistic video games. Who'd have thought it?
The trouble is, playing golf with a joypad is a bit like playing the guitar with a banana. That's why we're totally gobsmacked by Radica's Plug 'n' Play Real Swing Golf. Just like other self-contained plug 'n' play video games, Real Swing simply plugs into the AV sockets on your telly. The difference here is that the chic little unit contains an ultra responsive CMOS camera that detects the swing, speed and path of the special golf club that comes with the game.
The gorgeously realistic 18-hole course featured in Real Swing will transport you into a virtual world of greens, roughs, water hazards and doglegs - and you won't even have to tip your caddie or harrumph loudly at the doddering slowcoaches on the next hole.
The smaller-than-usual club takes a little getting used to, but once you get into the swing of things (see what we've done there?) you'll be whacking balls around like Ronnie Corbett on Red Bull. The camera/sensor secreted in the base unit is incredibly observant, detecting slices, hooks and total muffs, and the 18-hole course features variable wind conditions and four game modes, including Regular Play, Match Play, Tournament and Driving Range.
Each time you tee off you can use the buttons on the main unit to select difficulty levels and clubs, and you can even compensate for slices and hooks. A map within the screen tells you where you should be aiming, and information such as distance and hole number are also displayed. Any more realistic and you might be asked to replace divots and remove your hat in the clubhouse.
Radica's Plug 'n' Play Real Swing Golf is incredibly addictive and the fact that you have to swing to win makes it infinitely more playable than any joypad-controlled golf game. We've got it set up here at Firebox HQ and the queue to have a game is longer than Tarby's rap sheet of fairway fashion crimes.
Real Swing is ideal for any golf enthusiast, but it's also perfect for anyone who's ever fancied clubbing a ball around a professional course without having to hang about with a load of smarmy corporate-types in naff leisurewear. And that means you. Fore!