Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 Mobile

Change is always good, whether it involves clean underwear, toilet rolls or paying for a £1.50 coke with a fiver.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 is another one to add to the list. Along with the yearly updates to the FIFA franchise, Tiger's game is one of Electronic Arts' annually updated releases, and normally it would see as much evolution as his trademark red shirts. But this year's edition is different.

It's changed and evolved into a game that's markedly distinct from the 2005 outing, which, you might remember, we were quite impressed with. In that edition we liked the well-judged difficulty level and the entertaining challenge it provided.

But it wasn't perfect. There weren't enough courses, and the control method, whereby you set the power of your swing using a metre, was overly simplistic.

Both of these gripes have been addressed in Tiger Woods 06 and for the better. Firstly, there are up to five courses for you to tackle, depending upon your handset. And the developers have brought out the big guns, too – the Pebble Beach links make an appearance, as do the TPC courses at Sawgrass and Scottsdale.

You can see from the screenshots above how lovingly they've been replicated on your mobile phone – they're by far the best-looking courses we've had the pleasure of booking a virtual tee time on. In fact, they're not far short of Tiger's N-Gage game, which just goes to show how far mobile phone gaming has come.

This beauty isn't just a neatly-trimmed green deep either; the courses in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 will offer a stiff challenge to even the most seasoned of professionals. Teeing off for the first time, you'll rightly feel daunted.

It's a feeling that's not going to be eased by the new control method. Abandoning the power metre of yore, which saw you setting the strength of a shot by pressing a button as a marker moved up an increasing scale, Tiger Woods 06 requires you to literally swing the club with your thumb.

You start your backswing by pressing down on your handset's thumbpad and, when you're ready, swing forward and strike the ball by pressing up. The distance and power applied depends on the severity of your backswing – you can tonk it by coiling up Tiger like a spring – and your timing, and the combination of the two makes for a far more accurate representation of real-world golf than any swing-o-meter ever could. There's a real technique to be learnt here, and it's this which offers the greatest reward.

For the first few hours of play you'll be happy enough whacking every shot at as close to 100 per cent power as you can, and changing distance only by varying the club you use. But as you improve you'll become far more adept at judging the power of your swing, enabling you to get closer to the hole and so lowering your score.

There's plenty of fun to be had in the meantime, mind, with quick start and practice options that enable you to play 18 holes on any of the courses you've unlocked, as well as a neat challenge mode. With four challenges on offer per course, it's up to you to complete each one before unlocking the next. They range from completing three par-five holes one under par (that is, by playing all three in 14 shots or fewer) to beating a pro golfer over 18 holes. The latter pits you against the cigar-munching John Daly, PGA legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, and fellow golf-game headliner Vijay Singh.

All these changes serve to make Tiger Woods' mobile golfing effort the leader going into the clubhouse, at least after the opening days' round. And it'll likely stay there – Vijay's presence suggests he probably won't be reprising his starring role any time soon, and his game was the only one to challenge Tiger's dominance in 2005.

But we're not complaining, especially not when a game is this satisfying, involving and exhilarating. Just try the par three five at Pebble Beach if you don't believe a golf game can be exciting!

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 Mobile

Tiger's top of the tournament leaderboard with this pocket golfing grand slam