Golf is a difficult game; above all it takes practice, perseverance and patience. The margins of error can be fine - it can lead to mistakes that may make you throw your clubs in the lake! But when you time it right, and hit the ball exactly how you intended, it can be some of the most satisfying feelings the game has to offer.
PGA TOUR 2K21 encompasses these emotions brilliantly, offering a genuinely fun golf-simulation experience from the comfort of your own home, whether you are playing on your own with others in one of the many multiplayer options.
One of the main features of the game is that it offers a balance between realism, "forgiveness" and challenge - straightforward enough to pick up if you have never played before, but detailed and stimulating enough to cater for the more seasoned golfer.
A strong element of the game is swing management - after all, this is fundamentally how to get the ball from tee to green, and inevitably, into the hole. A blend of skill, jeopardy, swing tempo and rhythm is required to hit that shot exactly where you want it to go.
However, just like in the real game of golf, perfect shots are possible but tricky - so when you do finally master the skill, you are filled with a satisfying sense of achievement. And thanks to the different types of matches available in the game, you will get the chance to practice a variety of shots.
But, what happens if you don’t hit the ball exactly right - what is the degree of forgiveness offered by the game?
What is Meant by the Term Forgiveness in PGA TOUR 2K21?
Forgiveness is how off-centre you can strike the face of the club and it still goes straight.
Golf clubs have what is called a ‘sweet spot’ - the part of the club that, upon contact with the ball in the downswing, should produce the ideal shot. Anything left, right, up or down of this spot will change the flight, distance and spin accuracy of the resulting shot.
A golf club is termed as being ‘forgiving’ if it provides acceptable distance and accuracy on a badly struck shot. On PGA TOUR 2K21, these clubs are usually assigned at the start of the game, to allow you to still hit decent shots even if you do not strike the ball as well as you could.
As you improve throughout the game, there is the option to invest in ‘better’ clubs that allow you to hit the ball further, but are perhaps less forgiving. The theory is, as you become a better golfer and more skilled, you do not require the level of forgiveness provided by the more basic clubs.
How to Control the Level of Forgiveness in PGA TOUR 2K21
One of the most important aspects of the game is timing.
In order for you to strike the ball as cleanly as possible, the analog stick must be pulled back perfectly straight and then moved up/forward in a straight motion - this is to mirror the action of the golf club going backwards and forwards.
Forgiveness is the downswing timing mechanics, which is represented by the arc above the circle. It represents the orientation of the golfer’s wrist in relation to the club head at contact. If the downswing timing is too fast, the wrists are ahead of the club head, resulting in a closed club face and a draw/hook depending on the severity.
The opposite is also true - wrists behind the club head at contact opens the club face, resulting in a fade/slice.
The principle of forgiveness is to expand the white bar for the left analog stick. This is because the L slider compares shaft lean at impacts to zero - in simple terms, it shows you how far off centre you can be to still hit a good shot.
So in this example here, there is very little forgiveness in this shot as the white bar is very narrow. Something quite important to have in mind when playing the 17 licensed PGA courses the game has to offer - all offer their own level of challenge in terms of accuracy and forgiveness.
How Does Speed Affect the Level of Forgiveness in PGA TOUR 2K21?
The speed at which you do the motion of pulling the analog stick back and forwards is also important.
Too fast and the ball will go to the left.
Too slow and the ball will go to the right.
And if you get the speed perfect, then it should stay on line.
You should be aiming to keep as close to the white line as possible on the display screen, in order to keep the ball as straight as possible.
What is Swing Timing and How Does it Affect Your Shots in PGA TOUR 2K21?
Downswing Timing is measured by the time it takes you to move the analog stick up after pulling it back.
As we’ve mentioned, if this motion is too slow or too fast, then it can cause the ball to behave differently to how you intend it to - causing unintentional shots such as hooks, slices or perhaps a different trajectory in ball flight.
In terms of swing timing, the arc above the circle indicates whether you are early, perfect or late with your shot. There is not a traditional meter in the sense of a visual cue to speed up or slow down, but there is a meter displaying your results.
You should use this to dial in your downswing timing.
Fortunately, there are ways in which you can improve your timing and prevent those destructive, very fast or very slow shots.
How to Improve your Downswing Timing
In order to improve your swing timing in PGA TOUR 2K21, you will need to do the following for your player profile:
- Go to the Training function in the game.
- Select ‘Swing Calibration’ in the menu.
- Take 10 swings of the club at the pace you would prefer.
In order to achieve maximum efficiency, you should move the analog stick forwards at the apex (peak) of your swing in a smooth motion.
This will allow you to assess your downswing timing and make it easier for you to hit the ball perfectly. If done with consistency, this will become ‘your’ swing in the game and, if replicated during gameplay, will become ‘your’ perfect swing.
Depending on the level of difficulty you select for gameplay, the more precise the replicated swing needs to be in order to hit a perfect shot.
What is a Swing Plane and How Does it Affect Your Shots?
Swing plane is the vertical angle between the ground and the circle that the club head travels on during the bottom portion of the swing arc.
To hit a straight shot, you must keep your swing input within the white section of the swing plane circle. The gray areas on either side of the white add some push or pull forgiveness to your shot.
The R-Stick slider allows you to change your angle of attack. In order to make this appear, you need to hold the shot shaper button (L1/LB/L shift).
By sliding the R-stick to the “-”, this allows you to hit down on the ball, adding spin to the shot without sacrificing distance.
Alternatively, by sliding the R-stick toward the “+”, you can hit up on the ball, reducing the amount of spin and adding more run out to your shot.
The L-stick slider allows you to loft/deloft your club by sliding the L-stick up/down respectively.
Adding loft increases the amount of spin and reduces distance, whilst reducing loft decreases the amount of spin, but has diminishing returns on adding distance.
Additionally, left/right on the L-stick slider adds draw/fade to the shot, whilst still maintaining your target. However, draw and fades will have an impact on carry distance.
All of this does increase the shot difficulty, which reduces the forgiveness zones for both the swing plane and the swing timing windows . By having a more forward leaning shaft, you will be able to swing with swag and take on the pros.
The contact point in the swing arc (i.e. the dotted line beneath the club) indicates that the ‘expert’ contact point is during the downward motion in the swing. The lower attack angle causes you to hit down on the ball like an expert golfer. This will increase the amount of spin and cause the ball to fly higher towards your target.
But be aware that this is a more complex element to your golf swing, and therefore requires greater accuracy in the backswing and through-swing.
Swing Timing Mechanics
One of the biggest issues that many players have to overcome is the swing speed mechanics of the game.
To begin with, this can be very unforgiving. But you can disable this option by:
- Heading to the settings menu in-game.
- Click on ‘Difficulty’ settings in the options
- Either change the ‘Swing difficulty’ level or turn ‘Swing timing’ to ‘off’
This will certainly help you to become more accustomed to the swing mechanics of the game. And once you have mastered this, you can then increase the difficulty or turn swing timing back on.
It is worth noting that in the online mode of PGA TOUR 2K21, the swing difficulty is automatically set to ‘pro’, and swing speed is enabled.
The mechanics and calibration of PGA TOUR 2K21 are quite wide and sophisticated. But once you understand how these principles work, and you practice, you will become more consistent and start to see improvements in your game.
These principles apply to driving, iron play and chipping, but also putting. Once you have learnt how to putt, you will soon see your scores coming down. As the old golfing saying goes, you drive for show, but putt for dough!
Not got a copy yet of the game? Click here to buy PGA TOUR 2K21 so you can start practicing your swing and compete with the best.
Best Clubs to Use in PGA TOUR 2K21
Do you want to hit more fairways and greens? Are you finding that you are regularly in trouble off the tee, or missing the greens in regulation?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’ then it might be time to revisit your club choices and what is in your golf bag.
There are lots of different clubs available and each of them have their pros and cons.
Each club has its own stats, and some are better than others in theory, but the simple answer as to which clubs are the best to use depends on your style of play and your swing.
When preparing to hit a shot, there are five features of the club that you need to consider before hitting the ball
- Distance: how far the ball will potentially travel - providing you hit it perfectly
- Shot Shaping: how much fade or draw you can apply to the shot
- Forgiveness: the swing timing bar
- Swing Plane: how straight you can swing the club within the swing line bar
- Distance Control: the transition point of the backswing to the downswing
Some clubs are more forgiving than others. Drivers and fairway woods tend to be more forgiving as it is common to miss the ‘sweet spot’ and there are some more forgiving irons available to choose from in the game.
How to Select Clubs that are Right for Me
The most important thing is that you select clubs that favor your swing.
In PGA TOUR 2K21 Career Mode, you have the option to fully customize and personalize your player, including what is in your golf bag.
If you are worried about your swing speed or accuracy of the swing plane, then you will likely need a club that has a higher level of forgiveness. Because these clubs have a larger sweet spot, even your mishits will still come off reasonably well. You might still end up around the green, rather than deep in the rough or miles short.
Go into your MyPlayer golf bag and you will see that each club has a rating for each of the five attributes previously mentioned.
It will also show you how this club compares to the one previously selected; green means how much better it is and red means how much worse it is.
By selecting a club with a higher forgiveness rating, this will mean you are less susceptible to a poorly-timed swing and will still hit a fairly decent shot.
For example, the default HBS Classic F01 has a fairly decent forgiveness level, though the TOUR B JGR is much easier to swing, despite offering less distance. However, if you’re struggling with shot timing, the reduced shot distance will be hardly noticeable compared to how much more forgiving the club will be.