"Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07" is the closest thing to actual golf available on the Nintendo Wii.

For indoor putters who've had enough of the rather simple golf game that comes with the console, this new E-rated, $49.99 title is a huge step forward for virtual golfers.

I'm not much of a golfer in real life. Never have been, never will be (other than a visit to the local putt-putt now and then).

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But I have played plenty of video-game golf over the years, from my first swing at "Links" for the PC in the early 1990s to those Golden Tee Golf machines you see in bars all over the place.

The Wii , of course, is the first console with a wireless motion-sensitive remote. This gives it an inherent advantage over other game systems, where golfing skill is generally dependent on your ability to click a mouse button or push a track ball at just the right time.

The Wii makes for a much more realistic experience — and a much greater, often frustrating, challenge.

As with the real thing, striking a balance between power and accuracy is the trick. Patience will be required, too, as I spent days developing a consistent, straight shot that didn't sail out of bounds or into a pond.

A big windup was generally a bad idea because it led to overpowered hooks and slices. Plus, any companions in my living room would be ducking for cover to avoid my swinging arms.

Instead, I found that a quick flick of the wrist gave me the best results. Best of all, I could sit down and still play — a couch-potato athlete's dream.

Putting, however, gave me problems no matter how much I practiced. Despite a convenient grid that shows the slope and elevation of the green, I found it way too easy to accidentally move my putter and nudge the ball off track. I had more triple bogeys that I could count because of this.

Tiger and a few dozen other professional golfers are available to play, but you can also create your own custom duffer.

The Wii version's emphasis on controls seems to have come at the expense of the graphics. The visuals here were bad, with some of the on-screen text so blurry that I could barely read it on my high-definition television. The courses, too, generally lacked any visual punch, with bland colors and sparse scenery.

The sounds effects — the drone of passing jetliners, chirping birds, hooting spectators (I even heard a flushing toilet at one point) — do help make for a realistic outdoor setting.

It's not a hole in one, but "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07" is a solid debut for the franchise on the Wii. Golfing gurus now definitely have something to do on a rainy day. With some patience and practice, the rest of us just might have a good time, too.

Two-and-a-half stars out of four.