Producer David Woldman takes us on a tour of the Tiger Woods 2005 PGA title from EA Sports

By Michael Lafferty


“In Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005 we try to create a great entertainment experience, more than just a great sports game.”


It could be argued that the sport of golf is an adequate measuring stick for the advancements of the videogame industry. After all, it seems like the game has been around forever on one platform or another, and usually golf is the first to show off graphic rendering capabilities when it comes to artists lovingly recreating fabled courses.


Mark Twain was once quoted as saying that “golf is a good walk spoiled.” The videogame designers must have that stapled to the walls of their offices simply because the current market of videogames are producing the challenge and the beauty of golf without the legwork.


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EA Sports is one of the top publishers of sports titles worldwide and Tiger Woods is one of the most recognizable names in the sport. In September of 1998, Woods first attached his name to a PGA Tour game from EA and the partnership has blossomed. Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005 is gearing up for a mid-September release and EA Sports has added a host of new features, which will take the genre in exciting directions. What are they, you ask?


For the answer to that and other questions, talked with David Woldman, producer, from the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 team.


Question: When you think of golf, what is the first thing that pops into your head and you knew you had to incorporate into this title?


David: Golf is a game with a long and storied history.  This year in Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005, we’ve incorporated some of the most famous of golfers of all time.  For the first time ever take on the legends of golf; including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Gary Player and Ben Hogan.  By accepting the various challenges they have presented you, progress from Prodigy status and eventually become a Legend yourself.  We’ve built an entire game mode around our legends of golf entitled My Legend Pursuit.  As an expansion of the World Tour, this year you begin your pursuit to become a legend.  With each victory, you will earn cash and the new currency, Legend “Coins,” which you can use to customize the greatest courses in the world (see Tiger Proofing).  Build up your GameFace character by successfully completing challenges and events, working your way through the Legend Tour and Legend Scenarios until you ultimately take on Tiger and defeat him.  When you beat them all, you will earn your right to join them in the Hall of Legends.


Question: What is new or different about this next installment in the Tiger Woods game legacy? What courses will be offered in this installment?


David: The new additions of Tiger Proofing and the Legend Pursuit will be new for the returning players, and the industry leading GameFace II will wow both new and returning players.  If you’ve never played Tiger Woods PGA TOUR before we challenge you to give a try.  We always claim to be “all the golf for golfers and all the game for gamers.” 


Q: Golf games are nothing new to the videogame market. What makes the Tiger Woods brand stand out in your opinion?


David: In Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005 we try to create a great entertainment experience, more than just a great sports game.  It is our goal to appeal to all gamers and golfers by incorporating elements that will appeal to anyone who picks up the game.  Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005 has the best golf physics around which will appeal to the golf simulation fan, and we have an almost RPG like Legend Pursuit which should appeal to the gamer.   Each year we start from scratch in designing a new golf experience, building on what works while inventing new and fun modes of game play.


Q: One of the things I've noticed about this series is the excellent ball physics. Can you explain how you go about creating such realistic dynamics in the game?


David: In Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005 we spend a large amount of time trying to really duplicate the physics of golf.  From our Total Precision Swing system, which factors in everything from power to tempo, to the new ball physics, which react to both the upkeep of the terrain and the course conditions, everything within the golf environment is factored into the game.


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A fairway at Royal Troon before Tiger Proofing


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The same fairway after Tiger Proofing


Q: Will this game support multiplayer gaming? And if so, what modes will be available?


David: Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005 supports 2 – 4 player in all traditional golf game modes including:  Stroke Play, Match Play, Skins, Stableford, Alternate Shot, Bestball, Fourball. In addition, we also offer multiplayer arcade-style game modes like Battlegolf and our Skill Zones.  Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005 will also support online play for both the PS2 and XBOX live.


Q: What is the toughest element to actualize within the game?


David: Golf is inherently a difficult sport to play.  While we want to convey the challenge of the sport within our game, we do not want to frustrate the gamer.  It is a fine line we walk in creating a realistic golf experience, which is both challenging and fun to play.  The goal for Tiger Woods PGA TOUR is to make the game easy to learn, but difficult to master.


Q: How do you create the courses to look so realistic?


David: Each course in Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005 is realistically modeled from hundreds of reference photographs as well as real world GPS terrain data.  You can be sure that the nuances of each real-world golf course are reflected in the game world.  Our development team takes great pride in creating the best-looking golf environments in gaming.


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Q: In some respects golf can be a sedate sport (cursing and club throwing aside). How does that atmosphere translate into the sound elements of the game?


David: A golf course is more than just terrain and geography.  What you hear on a golf course is as important as what you see when you are trying to immerse the gamer into the golf environment.  From the impact sounds the club makes when it strikes the golf balls, to the late evening wildlife sounds like crickets and owls, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005 incorporates every element of the course sounds into the game. 


Q: What is your favorite aspect of this new edition of the Tiger Woods series?


David: I’d say Tiger Proofing.  For the first time ever, the courses fight back!  It’s a lot of fun taking on the role of head greens keeper to construct a course even Tiger will fear.  With similar slider functionality as in GameFace II, you have the same control over the course as you have for your character.  Augment the course conditions by narrowing and undulating the fairways and greens; dry out the hole to increase the speeds or water them down to alleviate roll.  Get creative with your mow patterns, sand colors and even cloud layers to name but a few of the options.  Give the course your signature touch by creating and adding logos to the pin flags or paint them into the fairway and tee boxes.  The game will ship with 14 courses (11 new, 3 returning) and along with Tiger Proofing there are seemingly infinite combinations ensuring the courses never play the same way twice.