Mario Golf: Complete Switch Controls Guide and Tips for Beginners

Here is your complete controls guide with tips for Mario Golf (N64), now part of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pass.


The hit classic Mario Golf in back in its original extravagance as it’s the newest addition to the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pass. The 1999 game brought a fun and silly yet still serious tone to golf, including an array of characters and unique courses.

The currently available library with Mario Golf on top and Yoshi’s Story on bottom. F-Zero X is another recent addition.

Remember that in golf, the aim is to have the lowest score by sinking the ball in as few shots as possible. A par three hole means you have three shots to break even, and sinking the ball after three shots results in a higher score which, again, is not what you want in golf. Generally, holes are between par three and par five.


Below, you will find complete controls for Mario Golf on the Switch. Following the controls will be gameplay tips geared at beginners to both the game and golf.

Mario Golf Nintendo Switch controls

  • Aim Shot: LS
  • Select Club: D-Pad Up and D-Pad Down
  • Change Swing Setting: B (Power or Approach; not always available)
  • Adjust Camera: X, Y, R, RS
  • Impact Point Adjustment: ZL or L + LS
  • Swing: A
  • Pause Menu: +
  • Suspend Menu:

Note that the left and right sticks are denoted as LS and RS, respectively. The right stick essentially functions as the C-Buttons on the original N64 controller.

1. Use the camera controls to determine the placement of your shot

To enter the various camera modes, hit X, Y, R, or the right stick. From there, use the left stick to move your shot and the right stick move the camera. From here, you can see where your ball will most likely land with a “Nice Shot!” where you hit A in time to hit the two grey bars on the shot meter. The first bar controls the power of the shot while the second controls the accuracy. However, there are a few things to consider when determining your shot.

First, as pictured, check the weather conditions. The pictured tenth hole has extreme winds and rain. This means that even with a “Nice Shot!” your ball will probably land both short of the max distance and blown further away from the landing spot. You can use the wind to your advantage, such as using it to blow the ball toward the hold on an approach, so keep an eye on the hole layout.


The grid also shows you the elevation and terrain details of the landing area or in the case of putts, the green. If there’s an incline or decline, think about how you can use those for premium ball placement. For example, if the green declines toward the hole, aim for where it begins to decline and hopefully have the ball roll close from the momentum.

Don’t forget to check for hazards! You always want to avoid landing in the rough and especially, the sand bunkers. Use the grid and weather conditions to determine your best strategy in approaching each hole.

2. Change clubs and use the impact point adjustment to create backspin and topspin

Landing a “Nice Shot!” by hitting A at the two grey bars.

To change clubs, use D-Pad Down or D-Pad Up. Each club will give you an indication on their max distance, such as 198 yards for the pictured 3 Wood. Keep in mind the “Rest” distance as this will give you the approximate distance to the pin.


At times, you may find that your goal is between the lengths of two clubs. One club may hit too short while another too long. This is where the impact point adjustment comes into play. To use the impact point adjustment, hold ZL (or L) and use the right stick to move the red dot on the ball (lower right). You must maintain the position as you swing! Otherwise, it will revert to the center of the ball.

If you aim the dot higher, the ball will go in more of a line and should have topspin, meaning it is likely to roll forward after landing. Depending on how high you place the dot, your distance may be hampered. If you place the dot lower, then you will hit more of an arching fly that should have backspin, meaning it is likely to roll backwards once it lands. Depending on how low you place the dot, your distance may be severely hampered.

A chip that landed just next to the hole for a “Nice Approach,” though chipping it in nets a “Chip In!”

If during your approach you encounter the above scenario, then go for topspin or backspin. However, beware of the hazards surrounding the green. Usually, there will be several bunkers and a bit of rough grass that can make a slight mistake in your shot turn into an extra stroke or two.

You can also change the setting of your swing from a normal one, an approach shot, a putt, or a power swing. Not all are available at all times. Speaking of…

3. Save your power shots for par fives

Landing a “Nice Shot!” power shot, indicative by the yellow-orange bar.

To change to a power shot, hit B as you’re preparing; this is also how you change to an approach shot, a putt, or a long putt (depending on the situation). You normally start with six power shots to use across 18 holes, an average of one for every three holes.

Each course will have a number of par five holes where you have five shots to make par (even). With these always being the longest holes on courses, it is prudent to save your power shots for teeing off on par fives. Particularly if your player doesn’t have as much drive strength as others – such as the pictured Princess Peach – then this will add a bit to your normal swing. You can expect, on average, an increase of 15-30 yards depending on the character. Those who already have long drives will benefit even more from power shots.

4. When putting, use the meter to gauge your power

Your main goal should be to birdie every hole (one stroke under par).

When you putt, you’ll notice the standard setting is 30 feet. Sometimes, this works fine, but if there’s an incline or the hole is more than 30 feet away, that can present issues (unless it’s downhill, of course). As you putt with A, use the meter to gauge the power. If the hole is ten feet away, then stop the bar halfway through so that it has enough power to reach the hole, but not enough to hit and go over.

Some greens will be especially large. If you land on the green, but find yourself over 30 feet away, press B to switch to a long putt. Here, the putting meter will increase to 100 feet (just over 33 yards). This is where you need to be careful as halfway is 50 feet rather than 15, meaning the ball will travel faster with the added strength. Use the grid to look at the layout of the green and determine the best path – and strength – for your putt.

5. Focus on Get Character to unlock all 14 characters

The first Get Character is Luigi and while there are 18 slots, the last four are only transferable through a Transfer Pak which is not yet available on the Switch Expansion Pass.

You begin with the four characters pictured, who are basically your all-around golfers. To add more, you must defeat them in a head-to-head match. In these matches, it’s hole-to-hole based on who scores the lowest. When you start, it’s the first to ten wins. However, if you tie on holes, then the number can drop. If you tie enough holes, then the number of holes needed to win will drop based on how many holes are remaining and how many have been won.

After teeing off, the person furthest from the hole will go next, following the same pattern through every hole. Once you get to the green, you’ll be notified of several things if your foe has already finished the hole. If they’re up on you, you’ll see a notice about missing and losing the hole. If you’re ahead, you’ll see “Sink to Win!” flash on the screen. For the former, if you miss, you lose the hole (obviously), and for the latter, if you sink the putt, you win the hole (obviously).

Here is the complete list of character in Mario Golf, the last 14 unlocked through Get Character battles:

  • Plum (Straight shot)
  • Charlie (Fade)
  • Princess Peach (Straight)
  • Baby Mario (Draw)
  • Luigi (Fade)
  • Yoshi (Straight)
  • Sonny (Draw)
  • Wario (Fade)
  • Harry (Draw)
  • Mario (Draw)
  • Maple (Straight)
  • Donkey Kong (Fade)
  • Bowser (Draw)
  • Metal Mario (Draw)

From Luigi down, that will be the order of Get Character battles. Plum, Charlie, Sonny, Harry, and Maple – as well as the four characters from the Transfer Pak – are humans not associated with Mario lore. Players like Wario, Donkey Kong, and Bowser will have much longer drives than players like Princess Peach, Baby Mario, and Yoshi. However, power isn’t everything, and some have severe draws (cuts to the left) or fades (slices to the right) in their shots.

A last tip: particularly when playing Get Character, create suspend points at each hole! Hit – (the minus symbol) to bring up the suspend menu and create a suspend point. This is a bit of gaming the system, but it will allow you to replay the hole – or shot(s) – so that you theoretically never lose a single hole. Since it’s available, why not make use of the feature?

Now you have some tips to revisit this classic. Who will you choose to become your own golfing legend – at least in the world of Mario?


Bruce L

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