Fortnite got a huge patch yesterday for the start of Season Five. Among other things like the addition of portals and some changes to how challenges work, the game also got a new emote that effectively lets players golf. For now, the mini-game feels barebones and disorganized. You have to keep score yourself and you will probably get shot while playing. But, for precisely those reasons, it feels oddly riveting.
New seasons of Fortnite include new Battle Passes. By leveling up or spending extra money, players can collect new skins and other loot as they progress. The golf emote is the reward for reaching level 27 on the current Battle Pass. Using the emote conjures up an oversized golf ball, at which point the player’s character can strike it with their pickaxe.
On its own, the emote wouldn’t be as exciting, but the new season’s overhaul of Fortnite’s map has added a golf course called Lazy Links in the Northern part of the map, where Anarchy Acres used to be. Lazy Links has nine playable holes and is also home to golf carts, the game’s new vehicles. All of that adds up to people saying you can now golf in Fortnite. Having spent the morning doing it, I can confirm those people are right, if by “golfing” they mean a surreal fever dream of long-drives, missed putts, and getting shot in the back.
Season five removed Fortnite’s Playground Mode for non-competitive practice and chillaxing (and making Mario Kart courses). That means the only way to golf is to drop into a regular match, glide to Lazy Links, and pray you can get a few good holes in before the storm comes. You post up at one of the tees, use the emote, and then aim using the reticle during an animation that lasts a couple of seconds. If you look towards the ground while aiming, you’ll putt. If you look above the horizon, you’ll take a longer swing.
After the ball gets hit, it’ll stay on the map wherever it lands (after several gargantuan bounces) with a pink arrow marking its location in whatever tall grass or sand trap you knocked it into. After the first swing, you can’t hit the same ball again, but you can go line yourself up with it and deploy the emote again to hit a new one. Once your ball hits the base of a hole’s flagpole, an alert pops up in the match feed telling everyone the distance of the shot. It’s up to you to keep track of your number of strokes, though, and to find the next hole. You can play with as many or as few friends as you like because, like I said, there’s no in-game organization to it. The game gives you the course and the tools but leaves the rest of simulating a game of virtual golf up to you. Your ball might accidentally get hit into the pool, or more likely someone will drive up in a golf cart and light you up. To play golf in Fortnite is to struggle.
Battle Royales encourage thrill seeking and mayhem. Golf is the opposite. Trying to self-direct a game of the latter while the former rages on around you is surprisingly fun. Just about every real golf game you can buy is extremely methodical and pedantic in its recreation, placing you at each next shot, controlling the environment around you, and keeping a strict log of everything that happens. Fortnite golf lets you take your time, make tons of mistakes, and even cheat, just as you might do in real life with your friends on a golf course. Most of all, it offers a hilarious diversion from everything else going on around you. By making the mini-game an unstructured afterthought, Fortnite’s golfing actually ends up having a lot amount in common with the real-life pastime.