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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 Package Art
  EA Sports
  Electronic Arts

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003

Though EA's Tiger Woods has been appearing on other systems since 2001, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 is a first for the series on the Gamecube. Could it have come any sooner? Offering analog stick swing control over the traditional "tap-tap-tap" method, Tiger Woods Golf 2003 redefines control, adds a few new courses, and ends up with a final product that positively adds to any gamer's collection, sport enthusiast or not.


Graphically, TW: 2003 is above average. The courses are accurately depicted (when they should be) and the players’ motion captures are surprisingly evocative, especially when putting. There is a playful tone infused to all the characters that counterbalances the somewhat stuffy nature of golf in the first place. Be prepared to see all kinds of nasty-looking swings from Sumo Wrestlers, Scotsmen in kilts, and old geezers...and very nice swings from professionals like Mark O’Meara, Tiger, and some shapely women. This mixture of characters helps keep TW: 2003 from becoming just a simulation game (ala Golden Tee, which I love), giving it a streak of red in a golf world of white. And while I don’t care for the facial mapping of some of the characters in the game, I’ve never thought it added much to any game, really.


I’ve always thought EA Sports did a good job with their in-game music, and while I’ve never heard of Saliva, Paul Oakenfold, Ash, or 12 Stones, the guitar-heavy riffs keep this belief intact. The color commentary lives by the philosophy of “less is more” and is very rarely intrusive or bothersome (though phrases tend to repeat ad nauseam). I think the game really shines when the commentators share actual golf anecdotes during fly-bys of real PGA holes. In any case, I found myself enjoying the music more and more as I played the game, and you can even toggle the tracks in the options menu. Sweet.


Tiger Woods is fun to play. Bottom line. The swing is so intuitive, so simple, it’s a wonder it didn’t come along sooner: Pull back on the control stick to backswing, and slam it forward to follow through on your stroke. It mimics an actual golf swing the best way a controller can, and it’s a feature that really makes this game notable. It’s the type of game that anyone can pick up and start playing. Playing. Not winning.

But there are many other notable innovations in the game, as well. On particularly good shots or high-pressure situations, the camera zooms in for a close-up of your player’s face and/or the steady “lub-dub” sound of a heartbeat starts pounding, increasing the tension of the moment. While it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve made a great shot, it does mean you’ve done a decent job. Nice touch. There is a similar cutaway for more-powerful tee shots, but it’s slightly overused and becomes somewhat of an annoyance.

Overall, TW: 2003 makes putting the biggest and hardest part of the game. It’s based solely on a “Caddy Tip” consisting of two numbers indicating a distance left/right and short/long. By estimating the distance correctly, your player will sink the putt. Let me say that again. By estimating the distance correctly, your player will sink the putt. No putt can be taken for granted.

The many modes of play offered in TW: 2003 extend the replay quite a bit. Games like “T-I-G-E-R” mimic the old game of “HORSE” in which players must hit a better shot than their opponent or earn a letter. Speed Golf also challenges two players to play simultaneously, a very unique approach. Tournament, Skins, and a Skill Zone area round out the other available modes. You can also create profiles and earn money to increase your skills as you take on new opponents and situations (though it takes a 32-block bite out of the memory card). Replay potential out the wazoo.


This game was meant for four-somes, though it may take you just as long to play as it does the real thing. You have the ability to have four people use one controller, which is a very smart feature (and Wavebird-friendly). Overall, the mulitplayer is a very satisfying experience and just as good as the solo. The game will also toss in “situations”—such as Closest to the Pin or Longest Drive—to add to the competitive air. There’s nothing better than sitting down with a couple buds and playing The Predator course to separate the men from the boys.


Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 is a game that keeps the dust from collecting on your Cube, even more so if you have a few willing companions. It also happens to be very addictive and extremely challenging, without the long learning curve sometimes required of sports games. Tiger Woods PGA Tour is a franchise that will be around for quite some time. Put this one on your shelf.

final score 9.4/10

Staff Avatar Eric Gilkey
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"'Life is full of little surprises.' -- Pandora"

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