The Topgolf VR game is somehow more realistic than the real thing

Many VR games are about portraying impossible exaggerated versions of reality, whether it’s sci-fi table tennis or a shooting range with actual zombies. The new Topgolf-branded Oculus Quest game, however, goes in another direction: it’s actually more like real golf than Topgolf.

If you haven’t been to Topgolf before, it’s kind of what can be expected out of a VR golf game, only for real. You’re basically in a bar with a massive driving range, and you’re whacking microchipped balls at far-off colorful targets. Topgolf’s technology tracks the balls on video screens so you can see how accurate your shots were — or, more likely, weren’t. I went to the Las Vegas location with some Verge co-workers after CES this year, and it was a good time except for the fact that Sean O’Kane destroyed us all.

This VR game is called Pro Putt by Topgolf, which is your first clue that it isn’t quite aiming to re-create the Topgolf experience in full. This game is all about putting, not driving; developers Golf Scope had been working on it for some time before adding the Topgolf license. It’s just as well, then, that the putting mechanics are great.

I’m no golfer, as Sean will tell you, but Pro Putt’s controls are easy to pick up while feeling suitably realistic and satisfying. You play with two hands on a single Quest controller, with simple teleport controls to position yourself over the ball. Although the game is technically all about putting, you’ll find yourself needing to make much longer swings on the par-4 or -5 courses. There’s surely a fair bit of aim assist going on, and the optional guidelines definitely help — I started making eagles faster than I expected — but I think this game strikes the right balance between fun and authenticity. I felt like I was playing real golf more than I did when I was playing real Topgolf.

The bulk of the game’s content is based on a set of clean, low-poly courses that, in scope, lie somewhere between minigolf and actual golf. While the developers compare Pro Putt to Mario Golf and EA’s Tiger Woods games, I’d say it’s closer to Sony’s Everybody’s Golf series. It’s a chill, well-designed golf experience that doesn’t require much commitment. There isn’t a lot in the way of storyline or career; it’s just about performing well on the courses. There are also extensive multiplayer modes and leaderboards.

Topgolf’s involvement seemingly amounts to some extra optional modes that aren’t all that much like real Topgolf locations, but they do give Pro Putt some added variety. Basically, you’re still putting the ball rather than driving, but you’re racking up points by landing on the colored targets. I would have liked the option for a full-on driving range as well, though I can see how the smaller-scale experience is better suited for VR.

Pro Putt by Topgolf is really well-done. I’ve always dug golf games, from Golden Tee all the way to Everybody’s Golf, Wii Sports, and beyond, and this is one of the better ones I’ve played in recent times. At $19.99, it’s an easy recommendation for any Oculus Quest owners who are looking for a relaxing but realistic golf experience.