NES Open Tournament Golf
NES Open Tournament Golf

NES Open Tournament golf title screen

Release dates

Australia N/A
Europe June 18th, 1992
Japan September 20th, 1991
N.America September 1st, 1991


General information

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System

Developed by Nintendo R&D2

Published by Nintendo

Players: Multi-player

 on NES Open Tournament Golf on


Quick links: Overview / Gameplay & Controls / Playable Characters / Other Characters / Golf Courses / Videos - Gameplay, Trailers & Commercials / Reception & Sales / Trivia / Reference & Information / Media & Downloads




NES Open Golf Tournament (also known as Mario Open Golf in Japan) is a sports video game developed by Nintendo and released on the NES in 1991. It is not the first golf simulation game on the system, as we already had one huge game before this release (that game is guess it – Golf. It was released and developed in 1985, and it was made by Nintendo as well). There were also 2 additional golf-based games developed by Nintendo, but they were released in Japan only (they are: Family Computer Golf: Japan Course and Family Computer Golf: U.S. Course).

As the name implies, and like it is already stated, this game is a simulation of golf. The biggest difference compared to the previous mentioned releases is that, in this game, instead of the regular humanoid sprites, we get to see sprites of our dear Mario and other inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom. And this difference alone is possibly the best explanation why this game was much more popular than its predecessors. However, instead of the familiar setting of Mushroom Kingdom, in this game, Mario and his friends are stationed in the real world (and the locations where this game takes place are: Japan, Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States).

The game was considered as almost 100% identical to the Famicom version of the game (Mario Open Golf), because both the graphics and the gameplay are almost completely the same. The truth is that they are nowhere near 100% similar, and there are many differences between these two releases. For example, Mario Open Golf has 5 playable courses, while NES Open Golf Tournament has only 3. The background music of these two games is also slightly different (only a few themes were used in both of them). Mario Open Golf was also much tougher than NES Open Golf Tournament. Most holes that appear in the Famicom release are not seen in the NES game, although there are a couple of them that can be seen in both titles. Also, some obstacles from Mario Open Golf are removed in NES Open Golf Tournament, in order to make the game easier and more suitable for the western gamers (just remember the controversy about Doki Doki Panic! and Super Mario Bros. 2, and things will become even clearer). So, it should be concluded that, while they do run on the same engine, there are many differences between Mario Open Golf and NES Open Golf Tournament.

NES Open Tournament Golf was released for the 3DS Virtual Console in 2011 for ambassadors, and it was released in 2012, as a full version. Another thing that should also be mentioned is that Mario’s outfit from this game appears as an alternate costume for the same character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash. Bros. for Nintendo Wii U.


Gameplay & Controls


As this is a golf-based game, the objective is to make the ball enter the hole that is located on a particular distance. You are equipped with your club, and that is what you are using to hit the ball. Your success will depend on your skills, the type of the club, the angle from which you are hitting the ball (you can hit it high, low and in the middle, which is a standard hit), the way you are swinging your club (slow, fast or normal), as well as the weather conditions (in this game, the only factor that influences the gameplay is the wind, though). You can play the game either solo or against a rival (either the computer who takes control of one of the characters or a real-life player).


Mario swinging his golf clubs, with lots of smaller versions in different poses in the background

Artwork from the Japanese version of NES Open Tournament Golf featuring Mario in lots of poses.

What makes the game especially interesting and what makes it stand out from the other golf-based games are several different modes in which you can play the game. We are now going to describe each and every one of them:

Stroke Play
You must play this mode (not in a tournament) in order to be promoted to the next rank. In case you show the appropriate skills, the game will offer you the chance to advance to the next level (this typically requires playing two 18 hole rounds). You start playing as a beginner and then, depending on your progress, you can level up and play as an amateur, semi-professional and professional at the end. Your rank is displayed on the title screen.

Match Play
In this mode, the one who wins the most holes is the winner. In order to actually win a hole, you must get a lower score than your rival. If you and your opponent win the same number of holes, the duel ends as a tie. At the end of all 18 holes, the one who won the most of them wins this duel. In case of a tie, both players will be transferred to the first hole, and the duel will resume until the winner is known. In the single player mode your first rival is Luigi, and once you beat him you will get to play against 4 new characters: Steve (Beginner), Mark (Amateur), Tony (Semi-Professional) and Billy (professional).

An artwork of Mario playing golf from the U.S/European versions of NES Open Tournament Golf.

An artwork of Mario playing golf from the U.S/European versions of NES Open Tournament Golf.

In this mode you can play either the Stroke Play or the Match Play modes. Depending on your rank (it is ranged between 1st and 37th place) and the score of the particular round, you will earn prize money. Obviously, the higher the rank is, the more money you will earn. At the end of each round, the ranks are shown on the scoreboard. Prize money can be viewed in the Clubhouse, by selecting the Prize Money option. A record of your complete earnings is saved even after the system is turned off.

“Bet on 1 hole” is a sub-mode that can select if you choose Match Play. Right here you can play against the computer who takes control of one of the game’s characters, and he challenges you on a duel to one hole. As it was previously noted, the one who gets the lower score wins the duel. If you manage to win, you will earn prize money, as your reward, as well as the option to play the next hole for a bigger amount of money. In case of a draw, you can continue playing for the same amount of money from the previous hole. If you lose the hole, you will lose whatever amount of prize money that was set for the particular hole, and it’s Game Over.

In this mode you can choose between several different options and you can also view various game data. We are now going to list everything that Clubhouse has to offer:

- Register Name
- Choose Clubs
- Options
- Player Stats
- Prize Money
- Tournament Roster
- Training
- Hall of Fame Holes
- Clear Saved Data.


A Golf Ball not quite making it to the hole in NES Open Tournament Golf

So near, yet so far away.

The controls of this game are simple, basic and very easy to memorize. You can see them right here:

D-Pad Right – hit right
D-Pad Left – hit left
D-Pad Up – hit the ball high
D-Pad Down – hit the ball low
A – hit the ball
B – go back one screen, show lie
Start – pause the game
Select – options menu.


Playable Characters


As we said already, the game is based in the Mario universe, but with characters that are located in the real world, instead of the fictional and familiar setting of Mushroom Kingdom. As even from the first game we didn’t have Mario only as a playable character, it is not so hard to guess that in this, sort of a, spin-off title, it is the same case. So, along with our favorite plumber, we have other characters that we can play with as well, and in this section we will cover all playable characters in this game…

Mario & Peach, Luigi and Daisy

Do we need to say anything about him really? Everyone who came to this site knows who he is, just like all people who didn’t come here know as well. Come on, it’s Mario, goddamn it! Instead of writing his entire biography (that you know already), we will just say that, instead of having a regular daily routine of saving Princess Peach from Bowser, our hero decided to relax a little and play some golf. Video game heroes have soul as well you know.

Where there is Mario, there is Luigi as well. Mario’s younger and taller brother, and a regular side-kick just has to be there, otherwise it wouldn’t be a real Mario game. Just like his brother, he is one of the playable characters in this game as well.

This is a “new” character and he appears in the North American version of the game only. He has a cowboy-like appearance. He wears a black vest, black pants and he has a brown hat that covers his eyes. You can play against him in bet on 1 hole mode, in case you have $500.

Another new character. He is a red-haired boy who wears blue baseball clothes and the blue hat as well. He has a huge “1” printed on the back of his shirt. You can play against him in the match play.

Yet another new character and yet another character that you can play against in the match play mode. He is a semi-professional golfer and, after Billy, he is the second hardest character to beat. He has kind of a “nerdy” appearance. He wears a shirt with orange stripes, orange pants and black shoes. He also has a brown hair.

The last new character in the game and the hardest golfer to beat. Billy is a real professional and is a grown-up older male who wears a black shirt and white pants. He has a blue hair as well.

Other Characters


Along with the playable characters, the game consists of several non-playable ones as well, and we are going to introduce them straight away:

Princess Peach
Mario’s love interest just has to appear in this game. She isn’t a playable character in this title, but her cameo appearance is significant enough and it is worthy of a status that she is holding. In this game, both Mario and Luigi have their “fan girls” and Peach is, logically, Mario’s fan girl.

Princess Daisy
A female character that made her official debut in Super Mario Land ( a game released for the Game Boy) returns in this game. Just like Peach, she is another notable character with a cameo appearance, and she is portrayed as Luigi’s fan girl in this game (for the first time).

Donkey Kong
A giant humanoid monkey, who was originally seen in the arcade classic Donkey Kong, makes his appearance in this game as well. He has a different image though, and he is wearing his new white clothes. His role in this game is to tell you how much money you have.

Princess Peach’s protector and one of the standard allies of Mario and his friends makes his reappearance in this title as well. You can see him carrying a blue flag here, and informing you that you are “out of bounds”, as soon as the ball leaves the court.

Monty Mole
One of the common enemies in the Mario franchise. It made its first “major” role in the SNES classic Super Mario World. Monty Mole doesn’t appear in the game directly, but instead, it shows up on the box artwork of the game.


Golf Courses


Like we said already, the game takes place in the real world and, having said that, it is logical that it has a certain number of different courses that are located on various locations throughout the world.

Depending on which version of the game we are talking about, we have the following courses:

Japanese version (Mario Open Golf)
- Japan course
- Australia course
- France course
- Hawaii course
- UK course
- Extra course.

North American and European versions (NES Open Tournament Golf)
- US course
- Japan course
- UK course.

There is no particular visual difference between all these courses, except in the design of the court itself, the distance between the ball and the hole and the soundtrack. Of course, we musn’t mention that they are different in terms of difficulty as well.


Videos - Gameplay, Trailers & Commercials



A video showing the gameplay in various modes of NES Open Tournament Golf


Reception & Sales


NES Open Golf Tournament received mostly positive critics and it was very well received from the entire gaming community. It managed to outshine the original Golf from 1985, in terms of popularity. The Video Game Critic gave the game an A rating, stating that it is “one terrific golf game that was well ahead of its time”. IGN rated the game with a score of 7.5, and this is what they concluded: “Who knew that a top-notch plumber could also be a world-class golfer? In NES Open Golf Tournament, you can see just how good Mario really is, as you hit the links on three fantasy courses in the USA, UK, and Japan and try to win big money. You can challenge another player in Stroke (lowest overall score wins), Match (whoever wins the most holes is the victor), and Tournament play. Remember to keep an eye on the wind and distance to the hole when you select your club, or else you'll be racking up some high scores which is exactly what you don't want to do in this game! Whether you're a hacker or a hustler, NES Open Golf Tournament is perfect for those days when you just can't get to the local golf course”.

On the other hand, although GameSpot editor Aaron Thomas gave it a solid mark (6/10), this was his summary of the game: “NES Open Golf Tournament has aged better than a lot of old sports games, but with so many other golf games out there there’s little reason to buy this one”.

As of the end of October 2014, this game managed to sell 1 million units across the entire world. From that number: 41,4% (0,41 million) units were sold in North America, 10,1% (0,10 million) units were sold in Europe, 47,0% (0,47 million) units were sold in Japan and 1,6% (0,02 million) units were sold in the rest of the world.




As the game was very popular, and as it introduced some very new and interesting elements (to the Mario universe, in general), it managed to influence some of the later releases. In this section you can see which ones exactly…


  • WarioWare: Twisted! – A microgame that is based off of this game appears in this release

  • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U – One of Mario’s costumes is based on his clothing from this game.

Mario in his Mario Golf inspired outfit in Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U

Mario in his Mario Golf inspired outfit in Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U


Reference / Information



Media / Downloads


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