While it's sad to see some new players slating the game, I think that the UI and lack of instructions is going to be partly to blame for people's frustrations and this will translate into bad reviews. It's difficult enough for people that have been around here forever to have the knowledge needed to setup and play a game correctly, or understand the differences from previous golf titles, but imagine a beginner trying to.
Where are the in-game tutorials explaining the myriad of settings? Where is the guide to explain the overswing and spin, or what the assists actually mean etc? These days many gamers are expecting a pick up and play experience and the UI in this game is far from perfect to enable them to do that easily. A lot of people will dismiss this game for 'faults' that can actually be corrected simply by something in the UI that they didn't realise was even possible, and a better UI and more instructions would have stopped this form happening, IMO.
Excellent summary of the situation. Little has changed, with regard to readily accessible info on the game, since I came over to EA PG from Links a few months back. Having been into golf games for many years, I knew not to get impatient during those first frustrating hours of play, got crucial advice early on from online players (thanks Modman!), and persevered to the point where I know my way around most of the game and can play a decent, enjoyable round. But if I had come into PG out of curiosity as a casual golf fan, I think I may also have given up after an hour or two, not realising that strange ball behaviour was due not to bugs but in-built features that I was not aware of. I too am surprised the game has gone mainstream before having a progressive tutorial mode in place like most other games. JNPG needs to attract a wide spectrum of players, not just hardcore, so an elitist approach - by intention or omission - could be damaging in the long run. Yes, some steam reviewers unhelpfully jump to a neg review based on very little gameplay, but imagine turning up for your first real golf lesson, being handed a bagful of clubs and a couple of balls, and told to work your way round a course in under 80 strokes or don't waste my time. Yes, there's the practice range, and Woodie's, and guide notes, but I think the game quickly needs a comprehensive, interactive tutorial mode to build confidence, just like real-life beginner lessons with a buddy or golf pro - driving, putting, chipping, bunker play, course management etc, gradually introducing the subtleties of the game stage by stage. Not a YouTube video tutorial but an in-game feature. Maybe this is in the works, and if so, I'd suggest it needs to get up and running asap.