Defeat Means Playable: The Get Character Mode in the N64 version. Also how you unlock the champ characters in the handheld versions.
Dump Stat: Spin in the GBA handheld version. If you are planning to transfer your characters to the GameCube version however, it is preferable to put at least some points in Spin, but it is still the stat that decays the least out of all the stats in the game, meaning that you can ignore it to an extent and still end up with a decent spin if you level up correctly.
Game-Favored Gender: Toadstool Tour and Advance Tour favors a different gender each when it comes to character customizing, between Neil (male) and Ella (female). Ella in Advance Tour has a drive that naturally decays into a low height while Neil's "decays" into a high one. As the latter stages have very high wind, and obstacles never really get taller (Very much so if the characters are not transferred to Toadstool Tour), Neil is at a heavy disadvantage despite his slight power advantage. You can work around the wind, but it's still more effort than Ella has to make. However, Ella's low shot, while great in the GBA version, becomes a liability when imported into the Gamecube version with its 3D environments. With a very low shot, it is sometimes impossible to hit the ball up cliffs onto fairways above. This means that Neil gets the advantage in Toadstool Tour with his naturally high shot and powerful distance as he can take some really good shortcuts on top of it. Extra points if your Drive and Impact/Control are high enough to turn him into a Lightning Bruiser. You can work around the terrain sometimes, but it's still more effort than Neil has to make.
Lightning Bruiser: You have enough level up points (and distance boosting drinks) to make your character into one of these, completely overshadowing the other golfers, including Bowser, Metal Mario, and Petey.
Somewhat possible in the sequel, if multiple Advance Tour saves are loaded to Toadstool Tour, and stats are similar.
Mundane Made Awesome: As a result of letting Motoi Sakuraba (best known for battle themes making heavy use of electric guitar) compose for a golf game, the music is very peppy for a golf game. Combined with the standard casual ignorance of the laws of physics of a Mario title and the announcer, golf has never been so epic.
No Stat Atrophy: Averted in the GBC and GBA games, where not leveling a stats will make it fall.
One Game for the Price of Two: Both the GBC and the GBA versions allows you to transfer your Story Mode characters to the N64 and GC versions respectively. The GC version also get the GBA version's stat boosting clubs while the GBA version nets you more Star Courses and 4 Secret Characters: Luigi, Waluigi, Wario, and Bowser.
Original Generation: The N64, GBC, and GBA versions have this type of characters to serve as opponents, helpful advisors, playable Story Mode characters, and to provide a larger selection of awailable golfers in the N64 version. Some of the N64 golfers actually went on to become minor Ensemble Darkhorses which made their abscence from the GC version a little sad for some N64 Mario Golf veterans.
Palette Swap: Neil and Ella if multiple Advance Tour saves are loaded onto a Toadstool Tour game.
Rare Candy: Hunting these down is one of the main purposes in the overworld for the portable games.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Features in the playing styles of the Fade and the Draw hitters in the N64 version. Fade players (prominent ones include Luigi, Wario, and Donkey Kong) had low height, making them more unaffected by wind, but hitting the ball over trees and other obstacles would become a problem, meaning far less risky shots, and encouraging a safer more laid-back style of golfing. The Draw players (prominent ones include Harry, Mario, Bowser, and Metal Mario) hit the ball higher, allowing them to hit it over trees and other obstacles, and made it more affected by wind, resulting in the ball sometimes going way off target, encouraging a more risky, exciting, gambling playstyle. Straight hitting players had different types of height for each character allowing for a more versatile style between the two, depending on the character you choose. The GC version toned this down by making Mario into a straight shooter and Bowser into a mid-height hitter, and introducing more low Draw and high Fade characters, so that the style used were wholly dependent on the height of the character in question.
You saw a little of this with straight shooters as well. For example, Plum and Yoshi had low straight shots while Peach and Maple had higher straight shots.
Rubber Band A.I.: Very blatant in the doubles tournaments in Advance Tour. Your partner is insanely gifted if you are in a sandtrap, but an idiot if you are looking to come out well above par.
Secret Character: The N64 version was notable for having semi-secret characters (including, among others, Luigi and Mario) not be awailable in the 1-P Mode unless you defeated them in Get Character Mode. It also had true Secret Characters in Maple, Donkey Kong, Bowser, and Metal Mario. The handheld versions included the champion characters and some prominent Mario series characters (Luigi in the GBA version, Waluigi in the GBA version, Wario in both handhelds, and Bowser in the GBA version).
Connecting the GBC or GBA versions of Mario Golf to the N64 version for the former and the GBA version for the latter also adds four human characters to the N64 version, and the two human characters (male and female) to the GBA version: the characters that you go through the respective games' Story Mode with. As there is no current way of replacing the Transfer Pack method, you cannot unlock those characters in the VC version of the N64 game. Partially justified in that these characters stats depended on how you had leveled them up in the GBC versions. The GC version lets you add up to four versions of both the male and female character though, they will be differentiated through Palette Swaps.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Wario and Waluigi's antics(and failures) are what's most focused on in the opening of Toadstool Tour.
Unskilled, but Strong: Notable ones in the N64 version include Harry, Mario, Donkey Kong, Wario, Bowser and Metal Mario. In the GC version, the notable ones were Daisy, Shadow Mario, Mario, Donkey Kong, Bowser, and Petey Piranha. They tend to have long drives but a more extreme shot path, and low impact and control. Spin was usually on the high end though. Also, Star Characters in the GC/GBA versions are Unskilled, but Strong versions of Normal Characters that could be unlocked, trading impact for drive. They have the advantage on long Par 4 holes and Par 5 holes. The AI versions kind of subverted it a bit, despite their hard to control drives with pronounced draws and fades, they know how to work with them, get out of trouble areas, and seem to have gotten putting lessons from Phil Mickelson.
Weak, but Skilled: Notable ones in the N64 version include Plum, Charlie, Peach, Baby Mario, and Luigi. The GC version ones were Koopa, Peach, and Luigi. They have a short drive, but a not-so-extreme shot path, and they have good impact and control. Spin were usually on the weak side though. Also, Normal Characters in the GC/GBA versions is this when compared to their starred versions, trading drive for impact. They have the advantage on short Par 4 holes and Par 3 holes.
The Unfought: Many characters will show up in tournament results lists that will never be seen otherwise. Your "rivals" in Advance Tour are a prominent example.
Most of the names in the lists are an Easter Egg to other Nintendo franchises, such as Link and Fox.