I’m not a big fan of sports games in general, but I’ve always had a soft spot for golf games and the NES golf, first published in 1984 in Japan and a year later in the US, while by far not the first of its kind, nailed the gameplay essentials you still see in modern golf games. I argue even these days, if you can overlook the graphics, it’s fun to play as the core gameplay is so timeless.
The smartest thing the game did and which differentiates it from the real thing is that hitting the golf ball is easy. While I like the early NES Tennis as well, hitting the ball over the net or actually hitting just the ball feels far more like chance or at least requires more ability than is worth it, you play a set and never touch it again. In golf on the other hand, hitting is easy, which makes the gameplay all about getting the ball from the start over the course to the hole, over all the obstacles from sand, water or trees. It’s far more strategic than most arcady sports games and yet it still has more action than just a sports manager.
And the 18 courses of the NES golf are truly enjoyable, ranging from the simplistic intro ones to get a feeling for the gameplay to the more preposterous ones, like the isle courses that would be far less fun if done in real life.