World Tour Golf For The IBM PC
Requirements: IBM PC and compatible computers.
Despite the recent onslaught of golf simulations to hit the home computer market, I had never actually played one until I tried World Tour Golf (WTG) from Electronic Arts. Not being a golfer, I wondered what was so exciting about a sport that prompted Sir Winston Churchill to describe golf as "a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill designed for the purpose." After playing WTG, I am beginning to understand the golfer's passion for the game.
WTG is one of those addicting games you want to keep coming back to for just one more round. You can play a fast 18 holes in less than an hour, and this is an easy game to learn-at least, on a computer. You can play a round by yourself, against a computer opponent, or get together a few friends and make it a foursome.
As you boot up the program, you select from a number of options that configure the game to your liking. You can choose to play or practice your game, either on the driving range or the putting green. If there is a particular hole you'd like to practice, you have that option as well. You can also alter the attributes of your player to balance players of different abilities. Drive distance, accuracy, tendency to hook or slice the ball, and recovery skill are all under your control. You can set up your player to play as you do on the real links, or give yourself the edge you always wanted.
After your player is accepted, you then choose which world-famous course you want to play. There are 22 courses included with the program, including Pebble Beach, Augusta, Oakmont, and St. Andrews. Several of the courses are fictional, and one includes some of golfing's greatest holes. None of the courses I played were very easy, but they appear to be pretty accurate representations of the real thing.
Having chosen your course, you are first presented with the scorecard screen. This lists the par (target score), yardage, and handicap (relative difficulty) of each hole on the course. You can also handicap your players (handicap is a term also used to denote the number of strokes allotted to equalize scores). You return to this screen after each hole, and it can be printed out at any time.
The weather and speed of the greens are different each time you play. Sometimes the wind is particularly strong, so you'll have to compensate for it in your swing. Sometimes the greens are fast, and your putts will go 30 percent farther than normal. In any case, it's this extra touch that will make playing your favorite course different no matter how many times you play it.
It's time to tee up. The screen is divided into two sections: an overhead view of the hole and a golfer's-eye view, which also includes other important information such as wind strength and direction, par for the hole, number of strokes taken, and the type of club you are using. You have 14 clubs at your disposal: three woods, ten irons, and one putter. At tee-off, your caddy automatically hands you your driver, just as he gives you the putter when you're on the green. There are two ways to hit the ball. The easier of the two, if you're not in the mood for dexterity games, is to select a number in the range 1-5, each number corresponding to a percentage of the strength with which you hit the ball. You'll then hit the ball perfectly straight, and you don't have to worry much about hooking (making the ball curve to the left) or slicing (making it curve to the right). However, a wonderfully easy simulation of hitting the ball is available with the swing meter.
A split screen with two perspectives is one of
many outstanding features in World Tour Golf.
The swing meter duplicates three specific movements of the golf club. By pressing a key, you begin to swing the club (backswing). A second press begins the downswing and sets the strength of your swing. A third press determines the accuracy of your shot. This is all represented on a circle with a clock hand measuring the points when you press the key. If you want to hit the ball full strength, press the key when the swing meter reaches the 100-percent position. When putting, for example, press the key at the 10- or 20-percentstrength positions; otherwise you'll find yourself overshooting the hole. If you press the key too late when setting your accuracy, your shot will slice. Hit it too early and it will hook. It takes some practice to get your swing just right, but that's what the driving range is for.
There are a number of hazards on the courses, just as on real courses. Trees, hills, and water are the main barriers, but you also must deal with the "lie" of the ball. (The lie is the environment in which your ball rolls to a halt.) The ball can be sitting in sand or weeds, stuck in the mud, or totally unobscured. Different clubs are better for different lies, so choose your club carefully. If you don't, you run the risk of flubbing your shot and your ball will just dribble a few feet.
As I played hole after hole, I found myself cursing when I hit the ball in water or got stuck behind a tree. I cheered out loud when I chipped in a shot from 25 yards out and got an eagle on the seventeenth hole. World Tour Golf is an involving simulation, something many games promise but fail to deliver. The graphics are great (despite the purple trees and blue putting greens we're forced to endure on an IBM) and convey a real feel for the course you're playing. The fact is, I keep on coming back to WTG day after day, hoping to beat my best score at Pebble Beach.
A Golf Course Construction Set
There is one more feature included that makes WTG one of the best golf programs available and a great value for the money: You can create your own course or quickly modify existing courses. The construction of your own personalized course is actually pretty simple, considering the number of parameters you can affect. Drawing terrain, placing hazards, setting yardage, and creating dog-leg holes, par markers, green slopes, and so on, are all easily accessed and implemented. You can test out the hole and edit it to meet your specifications or remove a particularly pesky sand trap on the eleventh hole of Cypress Point. The course-editing routine is simply great. Electronic Arts pioneered the construction-set genre of programs, so you know this is a strong feature in WTG.
This is a great game for the novice and the expert-and one for which you won't have to invest in years of golf lessons to learn how to play, either.
World Tour Golf
1820 Gateway Dr.
San Mateo, CA 94404