Arcade golf games – my top 5

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A game of golf

I know you have been wondering what’s in store for the newest installment of My Top 5 Sports Arcade Games rankings list. The fun carries on today as I drive towards the green in the following list of the best arcade golf games of all time. All of them are up to par, but were any of them as epic as getting a hole in one? I hope you are ready because it is time to tee off.

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5. Sente Mini Golf (developed and published by Sente Technologies in 1985)

Sente Mini Golf for the arcade

Been mentioning a few trackball games lately… Interesting subject for a new arcade list 😉

It was 1985 when Sente’s title made its arcade debut in neighborhoods worldwide. This game is a horse of a different color since a mini-golf arcade game is rare and unique. A tweeting birdie serenades each miniature golf player during the commencement of a new game to motivate them to perform well. For added inspiration, Sente Mini Golf displays Jack and Arnies Hall of Fame showing the highest scores before you hit the course.

You can choose to play either a 1, 2, 3 or 4 player game. By pressing the “Tee-up” button, you will select your starting position. There is a trackball that is used to roll for you to shoot the ball before the timer runs out. The courses are cool, with obstacles like electrical currents you have to time your shot to get past, and a magnetic abyss style black hole that sucks your ball in. Sente’s Mini Golf is a cute game and has wonderful music.

4. The Irem Skins Game (developed and published by Irem in 1992)

The Irem Skins Game for the arcade

Fun fact: this one is called Major Title 2 outside of North America

Created in 1992 by the Irem America Corporation, TISG is still a popular golf arcade game. Since up to 4 players can play and you can select between a 1 to 4 player’s stroke play. There are also 4 other options to consider before getting going, and It is also possible to play 2-player matches and a 2-4 players skins game. Next, you will decide to play either the American Country Course or the European Woody Course.

Irem Skins is a realistic golf simulation that has 4 different characters as options to compete with. Power Player, Golf Pro, Magician, and Technician all have their game faces on and are urging you to pick them. Once you have 18 holes under your belt, it records your data and keeps track of your career stats.

2 gauges appear in the top left corner of the screen, they are your rest and drive gauges. The drive gauges measures the distance the shot travels and the rest gauges tracks the distance remaining to reach the hole. To select your club, direction, stance, and power, you hit the B button. Finally, there is a moving tee to your left that needs to be lined up with good timing to execute quality spin on your shot. This is a spectacular game with dazzling graphics.

3. Virtua Golf (developed and published by Sega in 2001)

Virtua Golf for the arcade

Every Sega’s Virtua series of 3D simulations is easily recognizable…

Arriving in arcades all around the globe in 2001, Virtua Golf – aka Dynamic Golf – is still a favorite among arcade gamers that are golf enthusiasts. Up to 4 players can compete at a time in either stroke play or 18-hole challenges. There are 4 different golfers to choose from and all have varying power and technical abilities to consider.

This is a challenging game that requires practicing to become skilled. 4 buttons and a rolling trackball are used as controls. The trackball is used to adjust the power of the shot by rolling it towards you. A shot is executed by rolling the trackball towards the monitor. You need to consider the course conditions, and the direction and strength of the wind to estimate the carry of your shot.

If you are not careful, a shot will easily sail into the trees and end up in the deep rough. When things get really out of hand, you will be penalized a stroke if the ball goes out of bounds. To avoid such problems, familiarizing yourself with putting back and topspin on your shots is necessary. The spinning on your shot can be fine-tuned immediately after shooting by rotating the trackball in different ways.

The first distinctive quality you will notice is the elegant and transcendent graphics. It is truly a virtual and dynamic game with the clear-cut 3D sprites worthy of amazement. Dynamic Golf’s music is good and the commentator adds an even more realistic element.

2. Peter Jacobsen’s Golden Tee 3D Golf (developed and published by Incredible Technologies in 1995)

Peter Jacobsen's Golden Tee 3D Golf for the arcade

Were you there in Chicago, in 1995? If so, please share your experience!

This game attracted a huge following and is part of Incredible Technologies series of Golden Tee Golf arcade games. The first Golden Tee Golf came out in 1989 and enjoyed significant success. Years later, Golden Tee 3D Golf sold so well it sparked a succession of annual releases of the title.

It was not until 1995 that this very episode became the first in the series to support online play. Tournaments were held across widespread regions, since the cabinets were connected to a central computer system for gamers to compete in. Comparing player’s scores from any cabinet is how champions were determined. The first tournament monitored 24 cabinets in Chicago, and the winner won a grand prize of $1,000.

There are 3 courses you can play (Oak Valley, Ocean Pointe, Cactus Canyon) and up to 4 players can play at a time. If you are playing a 2-4 player game, the Stroke Play or Skins Mode is available. A trackball is what the game controls are centered around. This was one of the first arcade games where you could “Hit Stuff”. If you misjudge the power of your shot and land in the water, your golfer will get angry and break the club in half.

Honorable Mention:

Top Player’s Golf (developed and published by SNK in 1990)

Top Player's Golf arcade version

If you read my Neo Geo Mini International review, you know that, fortunately, this little gem was included in its lineup…

It was a tough call to leave Top Player’s Golf on the outside looking in. Released to the arcade universe by SNK in 1990, this is also a giant title in the genre. The retro classic includes 4 golfers that can play courses set in 2 country clubs. Special contests appeared occasionally where players competed for the longest drive or getting closest to the pin. The graphics and sound effects are exceptional and memorable.

Ready to find out the king of the green? All you need to do is scroll down…

1. Neo Turf Masters (developed by Nazca Corporation, published by SNK in 1996)

Neo Turf Masters arcade version

Easy to play (hard to master lol), engaging, relaxing… You simply cannot help but get hooked to this all-time classic!

Everyone has their favorite arcade games of all time, and this is one of mine. Neo Turf Masters is a fabulous and exciting game produced and released by the Nazca Corporation in 1996. The classic game is a legend in the genre and includes 6 golfers. Young Hero, Technician, Veteran, Shot Maker, Power Golfer, or Putt Master are your options. Up to 4 players can play at a time in stroke play, 2-player match, or skins modes.

Neo Turf Masters has 4 18-hole courses that consist of Japan, Germany, U.S.A., and Australia. A joystick is what you use to select your club and execute your shot. You move the lever left/right to direct the shot and up/down to cycle through and choose a club. There is a power and height gauge in the bottom right corner of the screen you have to get acclimated with.

Your strategy is important because the wind can become a factor and alter the course of your shot. What I liked most about the game was making line drive shots that would skip across islands in the water hazards. You could also hook your shots around obtrusive trees. Something else I enjoyed was shouting “Get in there!” in unison with my golfer when the ball was approaching the hole.

The graphics in Neo Turf Masters are awesome and the music is excellent. Once you have sharpened your skills enough, your Eagle’s, Birdies, and even Hole in One’s will rocket your name up the leaderboard. Before you know it, you will be raising the Turf Master trophy in victory as the champion. Considered for the title of the greatest arcade game of all time by some gamers, this title is a blast.

This was a tough set of rankings to compile, because all of the games are so fun. Many of them are close in proximity regarding overall quality too, which made it more difficult. What it likely boils down to is a matter of preference to anoint 1 the greatest of all. Especially between the top 2 titles on this list due to the fact each of them is fantastic.

It is my genuine hope that you enjoyed this article, retro folks. If you loved going on this journey down memory lane with me, do not forget to subscribe (that red bell on the bottom-right corner of the screen 🙂 ). That way, you will be notified of more amazing rankings just like this one. Last but not least, what was your favorite golf arcade game? Be sure to let me know below in the comments section.

Till next retro journey!


About Andrew A.

Andrew is the founder and owner of RetroGamingLoft. He considers himself a natural-born gamer and is on a mission to keep our gaming memories alive through the medium of Retro Stories. His event recount includes hopes, dreams, broken joysticks, magic, nostalgia and another final boss defeated.

3 thoughts on “Arcade golf games – my top 5

  1. Ann

    Hi Andrew. I agree with you. The best arcade golf game is Neo Turf Masters. I was teen when this title was released. And I remember playing with my older brother and my younger sister. I liked going all the way through islands and landing on the other side and I do remember wind played a big role. I’ll share your post with my brother. He’ll like it too!

    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Ann and welcome to my retro gaming blog, I am glad my post resonates with you. 🙂
      Neo Turf is one of a kind, one of the best SNK sports games to ever grace an arcade (my top pick is Paddle Mania, for the record). Not surprised it brought you back memories.
      It is nice of you to want to share my post with your brother, hope he too takes time to read and say hi.
      Thanks again for your comment, hope you stay tuned for my next arcade sports game lists!

  2. JT

    I went searching on the internet to see if there were any arcade golf games that might be as good or better than my long time favorite. No surprises here, my favorite is your favorite too ! This is Nancy’s Report.


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