Whoa, Fighting Golf? So, like, you get to beat your opponents with golf clubs? A quick whack to the shin with a nine iron? Run people down with a golf cart? And it's on a Nintendo console? Wow, sign me up! You poor misguided soul. You're not getting a combination golf/beat 'em up. You're getting a standard video golf game that has nothing to do with fighting. In March 1988 SNK released the NES version of the arcade game Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf. Golf champ Lee Trevino licensed his name to this halfway decent golf simulator, and truth be told it's actually a pretty good little game. As for where they got the word "fighting" into the title, I have no clue. The Marketing department over at SNK might know, I think.

As for the game itself, first you're prompted to choose from one of four players: Pretty Amy, Big Jumbo, Miracle Chosuke, or Super Mex (aka Lee Trevino himself). Each character plays a little differently (much how each character races differently in the Super Mario Kart series). Pretty Amy is best for beginners; Big Jumbo is master of the long drive; Miracle Chosuke has better accuracy; and Super Mex is an all-around average guy. The golfers are by default right handed, although you can make them left handed by holding Left on the control pad during character selection. Once a character is chosen it's time to pick a course: Japan, USA, or Practice. Then it's off for eighteen holes of golf.

If you've ever played Mario Golf for Game Boy Color then you already know the play mechanics. An overhead map of the course is displayed and you must move a crosshair to the vicinity that the golf ball should land. Then the scene switches to a shot of your character ready to swing the club. Press A and the power meter begins to decrease. It's all a game of timing as you must push A again at the bottom of the meter (which causes the meter to begin rising towards a target zone). Press A one more time when the meter is in the target zone to swing. Doing this properly launches the ball towards the crosshair. A bad swing will result in a hook, slice, or whiff. The appropriate golf club is selected for you automatically, although you can change the selection with the control pad.

The available courses feature the usual golf hazards: sand trap, water hazard, rough, semi-rough, deep rough, and out of bounds. The object, of course, is to move the ball to the fairway and then the green to sink the ball in the cup within par. Standard golf scoring applies and the game will award birdies, eagles, etc. Two players can alternate turns and compete for the best score, or a single player can hit the links alone.

The graphics and sound are pretty basic for a late 1980's NES game, with the levels of fairway and rough being different shades of green and hitting a bunker causes a "clunk" sound. Simplistic background music plays throughout the game. The game was easy to come by back in its glory days, although nowadays it is near impossible to find. Don't expect a lot of flash or dazzle, though. Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf is a top-rate 1988esque golf simulator, but it clearly cannot compete with the glitziness of later golf titles.

The game was given to me as a gift in 1988.

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