Best iOS golf games for Dad

This week's collection of apps is all about playing a quick game of golf during downtime. If your dad likes golf or is an iOS gamer, grab one of these games as the perfect Father's Day app.

Does your dad like golf? With Father's Day this weekend and the summer finally hitting its stride, heading out to the links is probably on a lot of dads' minds. But why let your dad's golfing be limited to the weekend or the warm months of summer when you can bring the links to him on his iOS device?

This week's collection of apps is all about playing a quick game of golf during downtime. The first app lets you play through nine-hole courses in strange, multilevel fantasy 2D worlds. The second lets you join one of the best golfers around, in a more involved golf simulation, playing on real-world courses. The last, out this week, is the sequel to an excellent pick-up-and-play golf game, perfect for when you need a quick fix.

Super Stickman Golf
Play golf on strange worlds with interesting traps--you wouldn't want to fall down that hole on the left. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Super Stickman Golf (99 cents) is a 2D golf game that's really easy to pick up and play, with tons of fantastical themed courses, interesting power-ups, and excellent physics-based gameplay. Though the game has a huge number of arcadelike features, the goal is always the same: try to get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. The challenge is that it can be much harder than it looks.

Rather than your standard 3D layout as seen in many golf games, Super Stickman Golf offers up a 2D platformer experience. The courses often have multiple levels you'll need to reach and obstacles you'll need to avoid to finally get on the green.

The interface consists of arrows on the left to adjust the arc of your shot, a button in the middle for bringing in bonus items, and a "Go!" button you'll need to hit twice for each shot: once to start the swing, and a second time to adjust shot power.

Beyond the many themed courses that keep the game interesting, you also have some extra arcade elements to add some flavor. As you play, you'll unlock unique balls like the Sticky Ball, which sticks to surfaces after you hit the ball--great for courses where there are shafts you need to climb to get to the green. You also can unlock Super Clubs that make it so you can stop a ball in midair, or freeze water hazards, for example. Each of the arcade elements is well thought out and adds a unique twist to the game.

Overall, with more than 260 holes to play across several themed courses, unique obstacles, arcade elements, and local and online multiplayer, Super Stickman Golf has plenty to offer any arcade golf fan.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12
Switch clubs by hitting the club icon at the lower left. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 ($4.99) is the first golf simulation from the popular golf franchise on iOS since April 2009, and it's easy to see that this latest game is leaps and bounds beyond the original. The graphics on the iPhone 4 Retina Display are smooth, reminding us of console-level golf games. The controls have been fine-tuned as well, making it easy to adjust shot types and switch clubs depending on the situation.

You get the choice to play as Tiger Woods, alongside him, or as any one of several current pro male and female players. You can also create your own player and customize clothing, clothing color, and skin color. Later, when you earn some money for various challenges on the course, you'll be able to upgrade your equipment for more-powerful shots and better accuracy to help you improve your scores.

Rather than the standard three-touch hit method found in other golf games, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 uses a vertical swiping method for better precision--the down swipe determines shot power and on the up swipe you can slightly curve your swing for draw and fade shots. Even once the ball is in the air you can swipe repeatedly in any direction to put spin on the ball. All of these shot variables will come in handy in various situations, and we like that there are so many controls for shot precision.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 lets you play quick games, head-to-head matches against friends over Bluetooth or a local network, or Tiger challenges with unique requirements, or you can play through your own PGA Tour. You can also connect to Facebook and try to beat your friends' best shots (which you can watch) on specific holes. Sadly, there is no online multiplayer at this time, but it seems like a no-brainer that EA would add that functionality in a future version--we'll just have to wait and see.

Even without online multiplayer, with a streamlined control system, customizable players, and tons of challenging courses to play on, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is the golf game to beat on iOS. Anyone looking for a golf game that's closer to simulation than arcade will enjoy this title.

Flick Golf Extreme
The graphics in this game are excellent as you shoot from atop high skyscrapers. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Flick Golf Extreme ($2.99) is the sequel to Flick Golf (iPhone or iPad), a very well-made arcade golf game we've reviewed here in the past. But instead of the usual golfing experience of trying to work your way to the green in the smallest number of shots, in the Flick Golf games your goal is to get as close to the hole as possible in one shot--ideally with a hole in one. Flick Golf Extreme takes the game a step further by moving off the grassy links of traditional golf games into all sorts of strange environments.

The interface and controls in Flick Golf Extreme were made for the touch screen, and it shows. When you start a hole, check for wind speed before taking your shot (this is especially important in later levels). To send the ball toward the hole, simply flick your finger in a forward motion across the ball toward the pin. While the ball is in the air, flick the screen to guide the ball toward the hole. You'll also be able to apply spin to the ball as long as it is still bouncing--great for small adjustments to get extra points. Each hole is surrounded by concentric circles, each with a point value that increases the closer you are to the hole.

Flick Golf and Flick Golf Extreme share the same precise controls, but where Flick Golf Extreme really shines is in the environments. With beautiful 3D graphics, you'll be taking shots across deep canyons and, on another course, from rooftop to rooftop high atop skyscrapers. In one level, you'll actually need to take shots from a hovering helicopter onto an aircraft carrier. All of the environments are meticulously detailed, with gorgeous animations and excellent sound design (in one level you can see and hear a huge waterfall as you take your shots, for example). It's clear that the developers went to great lengths to make this game a striking visual experience to go along with the already great gameplay.

Flick Golf Extreme offers three game modes: Quickshot, in which you hit as many shots as possible within a time limit; World Tour, in which you'll need to achieve high enough scores to unlock each course; and--new to Extreme--a 5 Ball Challenge, in which you get five balls that you can only replenish by hitting holes in one. Each of the game types requires a different strategy, adding to the replay value of the game.

Overall, Flick Golf Extreme is a fun and addictive pick-up-and-play arcade golf game with excellent controls, strange and beautifully made courses, and plenty of replay value. If you liked Flick Golf or want a quick golf fix, Flick Golf Extreme is a must-download.

Do you have another golf game you would like to share? Let us all know in the comments!

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.