Back in the heady days of the Sega Genesis 32X Phoenix Game's Victor Alvarez was known as the Danny Noonan of "36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples." He was particularly fond of the original Genesis version which featured the occasional "Caddyshack" reference when you made a hole in one ('It's in the hole!')
In retrospect, those games were simplistic but endearing. They encouraged a Street Fighter-esque level of smack talk on a more refined scale. You enjoyed harassing your buddies when they shot a bogey, but no one got their feelings hurt.
Oh how things change. Phoenix Games doesn't know if it's them or the games, but the near-photorealistic qualities of new golf games seems to make the smack talk crisper as well. With limitless fine tuning at your fingertips and spot-on commentating by the best in snooty golf commentators, there's no end to the ways you and your friends can criticize each other while getting in 18.
Tiger Woods has done for serious golf games what Madden did for football, and the new "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09" is another fine installment in the series. Phoenix Games thought it would be difficult for EA to top last year's title - which was stellar. For the most part they were right. Unlike a football game that has rosters and endless player options to fine tune every year, golf is essentially golf year in and year out. The fact that EA has managed to convince us to buy a new golf game every year is a testament to their ability to change the game enough to make it worth your green to hit the greens.