Golf (series)

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Not to be confused with Mario Golf (series).
International logo for Golf on the Game Boy
First installment Golf (1984)
Latest installment Mobile Golf (2001)
Number of installments 8
Franchise Super Mario

The Golf series is a series of games by Nintendo based upon the sport of the same name. The player golfs through 18 holes in a course by using various clubs, taking stock of wind and grass type while avoiding hazards such as water and sand traps. The courses are generally based on real-world countries and regions, though the courses and holes themselves are fictional. Due to Mario's role as Nintendo's primary mascot, he is used as a player character in almost every game in the series, eventually leading to the Mario Golf subseries that focuses on him and his world rather than realistic holes.

Cover, original release, and system Synopsis
Boxart for Golf
Japan May 1, 1984
Nintendo's original golf game, programmed by Satoru Iwata, is a simple game of 18 holes. Along with its original releases on the Family Computer and Nintendo Entertainment System, it has been ported numerous times, including the Famicom Disk System, numerous Japanese personal computers, and the Nintendo PlayChoice-10. The character in it resembles a more realistic portrayal of Mario, wearing white and blue as Player 1 and red and black as Player 2, though he is sometimes identified as Mario and other times as a generic character nicknamed "Ossan." Unlike in most later games in the series, the holes lack any distinction between rough grass and fairway, while trees solely act as out-of-bounds areas.
Stroke & Match Golf
Front of Japanese VS. System flyer for VS. Golf and VS. Pinball. Published July 26, 1984.
Japan August 1984
VS. System
Stroke & Match Golf or VS. Golf is a variation of the original game on the VS. System series of arcade machines. It was released alongside VS. Pinball. Three versions were released, all with a randomly picked selection of 18 holes from a larger sample, which differs between each release. The sole Japanese version and one of the two overseas versions feature Mario with the same sprites as the original game, but the other overseas version features a female golfer instead. Since the game is an arcade game, a credit system is implemented, but how it works varies by region.
Golf: Japan Course
Japan February 21, 1987
This Japan-only game is a simple update to the 1984 original, albeit with new holes, different types of grasses added, and trees acting as solid obstacles. Mario is now in his normal proportions and outfit, while a palette swap Luigi is available for the second player. There is also a palette-swapped computer opponent that wears black and brown.

Japan Course was involved in a major contest. After finishing all the holes, players had an option of saving their score. If the score was good, the score could be recorded into a special blue disk that came with the game and sent via Disk Fax to Nintendo in Kyoto. 5,000 runners-up received the Professional Course golden Disk Card, which is much harder than the original. The top 100 scorers received a plaque with their names on it, as well as a Champions' Course golden Disk Card with their name and rank programmed onto the title screen, and an even more difficult set of holes.

Golf: U.S. Course
Golf: U.S. Course
Japan June 14, 1987
U.S. Course was released months later and is also a Japan-exclusive game. It is more open, and a bird's-eye view of the holes is not available during gameplay, making it a bit more challenging. In this game, Mario wears a blue shirt and red-and-white striped overalls. Luigi is not mentioned in the game or the instruction manual, but the second player is a green palette swap, while Player 3 is blue and Player 4 is orange. There is also a hidden female playable character that can be unlocked.

The game also had a contest similar to Japan Course in which the main prize was a trophy and a golden Punch-Out!! Famicom cartridge. An unannounced prize was the golden disk Golf: Prize Card, which contained the harder Special Course. It was given out during the same contest but likely as part of a lottery to a thousand players whose submissions included a hole-in-one.

Golf (Game Boy)
Golf cover
Japan November 28, 1989
Game Boy
Despite sharing a title with the original game, the Game Boy Golf has 36 holes spread across a Japan Course and a U.S.A. Course, similar to the previous separate Disk System games, which it is also otherwise more similar to. Unlike in the previous games, there is no "back view" of Mario, instead showing a heavily zoomed-in version of the bird's-eye map. Multiplayer is no longer done on a single controller in a turn-based fashion, instead requiring two Game Boys and a link cable.
NES Open Tournament Golf
North American box art for NES Open Tournament Golf
Japan September 20, 1991
This game was released in both America and Japan, featuring Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Princess Daisy, and acts as the beginning of the Mario Golf subseries. Various other humans appear as well, including Steve (beginner), Mark (amateur), Tony (semi-professional), and Billy (professional). In the original Japanese version, Mario Open Golf, there is no tournament mode and there are fewer NPC golfers but far more holes than in the American version; the soundtrack also differs between releases.

A version of the American release with the tournament and clubhouse modes removed was made for the Nintendo PlayChoice-10 in America, called Mario's Open Golf.

Box art for Golf* on the Virtual Boy, United States release
Japan August 11, 1995
Virtual Boy
This game was initially developed by T&E Soft and released in Japan as the unrelated T&E Virtual Golf, though it was localized as simply Golf* or as Nintendo Golf, giving it a connection to the earlier games. It features a generic human golfer (implicitly named "Duff" by the default name registry) in place of Mario and, due to the Virtual Boy's capabilities, has a course of 18 fully 3D holes with hills and slopes at the Papillion Golf & Country Club. Due to the different development history, it has several gameplay differences from the other games, though some of its mechanics are used in Mario Golf for the Nintendo 64.
Mobile Golf
Japan May 11, 2001
Game Boy Color
This Japan-only game is a spinoff of Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color and is very similar to its predecessor. Its main innovation was multiplayer games within a mobile phone network via a special adapter. Unlike in its predecessor, the holes are based on real locations, like in the earlier Golf games.


Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese ゴルフ