If you're a fan of golf but don't necessarily want to drag a big heavy bag around 18 holes in the hot sun, we have a great alternative. Nintendo's Mario Golf: World Tour for the Nintendo 3DS provides plenty of fun around the links, whether you're challenging friends online or unlocking new courses in the Castle Club with your custom Mii character.

There are a few things you should know before hitting the links, so here are some tips that will put you on the green in no time.

Adjusting Between the Play Styles

There are two play styles you can select from in Mario Golf: World Tour – Easy and Manual. Easy is the best way to go if you're a rookie or younger player, as it automatically handles the accuracy of the swing for you. That way, all you need to worry about is how much power you're hitting the ball with, and you can see what percentage is best for your shot with an indicator arrow pointing out the distance.

If you prefer the true nuances of golf, however, we suggest getting into Manual. This requires you to accurately nail both power and accuracy, but it adds a number of fine tune options you can add to your swing, including where you will hit the ball (in case you need to go around obstacles or give it more oomph) as well as adding topspin and backspin.

Topspin and backspin can add or detract extra distance on your shot, and sometimes that can make all the difference. Applying topspin, for example, will allow you to roll further than you would on a regular shot; whereas backspin will slow it down, in case you're trying to get to an accurate point on the green.

The best thing about these two styles is that you can adjust between them at any time, either with the press of a button or the tap of the touchscreen. There's no penalty for switching between the two, so try them both and see what works best.

Adjusting for Wind and Special Shots

Before you swing, look at the wind meter, which appears in the upper right corner of the screen. (You won't have to worry about it that much on the underwater course.) Take note of the wind direction and adjust your shot so you don't end up in a sand trap. If it's moving forward, use it to gain extra distance on your shot without using items. 

When you first begin a round, you'll have several Power shots you can use. These add about 20 plus yards to your shot, so you'll want to save these for opening drives, or if you're trying to get on a green on a par 5 hole. Wasting them otherwise may cost you strokes in the long run, especially if you hit a water hazard.

Finally, Item Shots open up as you collect icons during challenges and special rounds. These provide a certain degree to your game depending how they're used. Some activate bouncy pads that help you get over large groups of water, while others, like the Bullet Bill, provide extra distance on a shot. Again, you'll want to use these sparingly, as you have only so many during a round.

Setting up an Online Tournament

When it comes to setting up an online tournament – and challenging others to take part – it's relatively easy. Once you begin a round, you'll get an access code to share with others. When they enter the game, all they need to do is enter it and they'll join you on a turn-based set-up to take part in the round.

This can take a little time, depending on when your friends are around to play, but stick with it. Eventually, you'll see plenty of challenges come down the line, bringing out the best in your golf game.

Welcome to the Castle Club

Finally, when it comes to starting the Castle Club, it can be a bit easy getting lost, since there's no map that guides you to where you want to go. It all depends on what you want to do.

If you feel like exploring, don't be afraid to take notes so you know where you need to go next time to purchase items or check what the locals are saying about your golf game. However, if you want to jump into a round, once you enter the hall, move all the way to the north, passing under the pPrincess' stained glass window. Here, you'll head outside, where there are several courses to choose from.

The keeper will ask that you practice and master a course before entering a tournament, but this is a good thing. You'll be able to understand each hole, and what shots to take before challenging others. Don't be afraid to hop in for some practice and get used to your swing, no matter which option you end up choosing.

Happy golfing!

Mario Golf: World Tour is available now for Nintendo 3DS via retail and download.