New EA Sports Tiger game offers dose of reality
Video: Tiger & Arnie in "The Rumble"
It is rare that you can tie in reality with fantasy, especially in the video game world.
So color me surprised when a whole lot of perspective was provided by my 8-year-old on Friday.
One of the perks of being in the golf business is that you get to meet some great people, and sometimes even get to bring a family member to join in on the fun.
On Friday in Bay Hill, my little man was a bit of a deer caught in headlights. He is beginning to understand golf, but really just knows one face: Tiger Woods. Not because he watches him on Sunday, but because his face graces the cover of a video game. Tiger Woods is cool to him. When daddy has had a couple of sit-downs with Tiger, I am king for the day (OK, maybe a couple of hours, but who is counting?).
While hanging out at the par-3 17th on Friday, we caught a glimpse of Arnold Palmer. I hurriedly ushered him over to get a look at the King. He really didn't understand why, as he only knew Palmer's name was on all the signs at the tournament.
We waited for a bit as Palmer did a meet-and-greet. About 15 minutes later, my little man scored his autograph and a priceless picture with one of the icons of sports, not just golf. A proud moment for me, but it hadn't set in just yet for my little guy.
We watched Tiger for a couple of holes and headed back home. I was thinking about how to provide the proper perspective of what had transpired, and finally figured it out on that 40-minute trek down the interstate.
When we got home, I told him to go into my work backpack, that I had a surprise for him. He reached in and pulled out the 2014 EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour '14 game, which has Palmer on the cover. His eyes lit up. "A new game!" he says. He then looks at the cover again: "Wait, didn't I meet Arnold Palmer today?"
"Yep!" I told him. "Now, can you meet Batman or Spiderman?" I asked.
He got it. He had me rip open the game. But he didn't want to play as Tiger in the game, he wanted to play as Arnie. He was cool to him now, too.
Sure, I can get into the techie mumbo jumbo about how cool the game is -- the Legends mode is a must-see, as is Night Golf -- but the part of the game that leaves me the most impressed is how the franchise has changed over time.
EA Sports' Tiger Woods '14: Lexi Thompson
In the first few years, it was just a golf video game. Cool to play, but you could shoot 46 and not really learn much about the game.
Now, you can play all four majors, play Augusta National, learn about the game's heroes, have a bit of fun playing in conditions that are normally reserved for pros and it actually takes work to break par.
Playing on the Xbox 360 Kinect is not easy: your swing must be pure, just like in real life. Now, I can cheat and play with a joystick, but even that has its penalties now.
Most importantly, this game acts as a history lesson. My son can learn from it and apply it to real life. Men such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Seve Ballesteros transcend golf. They are men who took their skills on the course to make a difference off of it.
From Palmer's hospitals and charities to Nicklaus' work worldwide to Woods' youth foundation -- these are actions that I want my son to emulate.
And he learned about all of them through a video game.
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For more coverage of the 2014 game release
• SHE'S IN THE GAME: Lexi Thompson grew up playing the EA Sports Tiger Woods video game franchise and didn't have much success against her brothers. Now she'll have a shot to beat them as herself in the 2014 version of the game. Story.
• NIGHT GOLF: Bud Cauley grew up sneaking out onto TPC Sawgrass at dusk. Now the PGA Tour sophomore has been added to the EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour '14 game and took to Sawgrass to promote the game's new night golf feature. Story. & Video