1986
Sport: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

61
Jerry Muir
Chris Bourne

It's been a while since I've donned the plus fours and strolled out on to the greens of my Spectrum, but here comes Imagine, determined to prove that there's life in an old genre yet.

Golf simulations have been around since the start of home computing, but today's programs push their predecessors into the pitch-and-putt league.

Whereas once a round of ball-bashing consisted of nothing more than guessing the angle needed to connect Point A (the ball) to Point B (the hole), now you even get an animated golfer taking a swing.

As you might expect from a Konami conversion, Golf is strong on these graphic touches. Before you even leave the clubhouse you'd better realise that you're going to spend half an hour choosing all the variables before you can drive off into the undergrowth.

Everything is very smoothly run around the Konami course.

First thing to do is decide what sort of game you're going to play if you're on your own you're restricted to stroke play. That means that you'll try to beat the number of strokes that it should take to complete a hole - the par.

None of the hole ratings are impossible, but you'll need to play well to complete the course without at least a stroke or two too many.

Add an opponent and you have an alternative to taking on the course. Match play is a simple fight to the finish, with the player who takes fewest strokes winning the hole. Five holes give you the game.

First, take notice of the wind speed and direction. When you place the direction of your shot with the cross-hair cursor, you may need to compensate for the force nine gale that's blowing across the scene. At this stage you also choose whether to slice, swinging to the right, hook, curve to the left, or send the ball straight down the middle.

Pressing Fire takes you on to club selection. One advantage that micro golfers have over their real-life counterparts is an accurate measure of how far they are from the hole. Using the inlay card's guide to the average length of shot given by each club, you can ask your caddy for a number nine iron without fear of fits of laughter.

Finally, you have to make the shot, and its strength is controlled by the time honoured method of a bar, which expands and shrinks just fast enough to make selecting the right moment that bit tricky. Hit Fire and shout 'Fore!' it's the moment of truth as you watch your shot in 3D on the left and in a plan on the right When you finally make the green, the picture changes.

Instead of the scene you get an overview of the area, complete with grass to help you judge which way a stroke is likely to roll. Too weak and the result will be a puny embarrassment, but too much and you'll overshoot the hole.

There you have it in a nutshell. This is one of the smoothest golf games I've seen and it's ideal if you fancy a nice relaxing round of non-exercise from your armchair.

But I can't help wondering if the limited number of holes won't also limit its life.

Label: Imagine
Author: Choice
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Plus 2
Reviewer: Jerry Muir

*****

More attractive arcade-style than awesomely detailed, but for an undemanding game it can't be beaten.

5/5

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HINTS AND TIPS

At first just drive straight and take notice of the club strengths.

Only compensate for the wind if its speed is four mph or more.

On certain holes it may be better to go for a shorter first shot, rather than risking driving straight into a bunker.

On the green, too little is often better than too much.