The game is, by necessity, something of a system hog and the technical performance can be a bit wobbly depending on what else your PC is doing at the time. It's inevitably frustrating to mess up a stroke because of a stutter caused by an incoming email or something similar, but you can alleviate such problems by closing all other programs, even if that rather goes against the point of a browser game. Get past that minor grumble and it looks and plays like a Tiger Woods game from four or five years ago, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. For many fans, that was when the series was at its best.
Right from the start, PGA Tour Online trails breadcrumbs before you to coax you into improving your game. Cash and XP bonuses are handed out for good performance, either as one-off Achievement-style rewards for hitting specific milestones (such as your first drive over 200ft) or repeatable handouts for consistent efficiency; reaching the green within regulation, landing a close approach, and so on. These are small amounts - 25 virtual dollars here, 30 XP there - but over repeated play it adds up and the better you play, the faster your bank balance and stats rise. It's a clever system and one that makes those eagles and birdies taste even sweeter, knowing that each chiming announcement carries an additional tangible benefit.
The big question for many will be how much you get for free, and the answer is "quite a lot". The biggest restriction is that only two courses are open to free players at any time, on a rota system. If you want to play a round on one of the locked courses, you have to pay a small greens fee of around 100 to 150 of the game's currency points. These are distinct from the virtual money you earn during the game, which is used to buy equipment and apparel, and are instead used to unlock access to game content.
You can stock up on these points using a credit card or PayPal, with 1000 points running at $10 up to 5500 points for $40. There's no Pound Sterling or Euro pricing, annoyingly [although EA did provide some details in a press release - Ed.]. Alternatively, you can take out an annual subscription for $60, which grants unrestricted access to all courses for twelve months, and there's a monthly subscription offer too.
For casual players, or anyone who isn't fussed about waiting for the different courses to take turns being free, it's perfectly possible to play for days without bumping into a pay wall. Any of the organised tournaments taking place on the designated free courses are also free to enter, you're able to create your own player group and there's even a decent spread of stuff in the Pro Shop that can be bought with your winnings without dipping into your real-life wallet.