Fore! There are some who say that golf is a boring game. And of course they're right. Jimmy Tarbuck has a lot to answer for. But if you're feeling a little under par, what better to cheer you up than a golf sim for the Speccy. And if we're talking golf sims, were really talking Leader Board. On the Commie (spit) and the Atari ST, it's already carried off more critical plaudits than Woody Allen. Now Speccy owners can see what all the fuss is about.
In fact, I've spent many rapturous hours carving away at Leader Board on my (gasp) Commodore 64 (You're fired! Ed), and to be honest I dreaded the Speccy conversion. It didn't seem possible that US Gold could fit in all that gameplay - the four different 18-hole courses, the three (very) different skill levels, the various methods of play. But, mash my niblicks, they have.
Just look at the simplicity and clarity of the screen display. No bushes or bunkers clogging up the memory - just a vast expanse of water! Saves on code, no doubt, though you're liable to lose the odd ball (or twenty). As you go through the four Leader Board courses, the islands get smaller and smaller and trickier and trickier, and you'll need pinpoint accuracy even on the novice level.
Teeing off is fairly easy, but keep your eye on the indicator on the left. Start the swing by pressing down fire, and set the power by releasing the fire button during the backswing. Time it just right and you'll hit it with full force. Each club hits the ball up to a certain distance, so if your timing's up to scratch and you pick the right club you'll usually get down to the green in two. Putting's harder, though. The borrow (slope to you) on the green is clearly marked, but you may find the power control difficult to handle, especially on the shorter shots.
Succeed as a novice and it's onto the Amateur level, where the horrors of hook and slice complicate matters a lot. Now, after setting the power, you must quickly press the button again to set the "snap". Snapping just as the club hits the ball will make it go straight, but be slightly early or late and the ball will go haring off to the left or right.
Later still you can graduate to Professional, where you now have wind to cope with (have you seen a doctor about that, madam?) Watch the wind indicator on the right of the screen - as with hook and slice you can sometimes use it to your advantage. Needless to say, Course 4 on the Professional level should be tried only by the most skilled or the deranged.
Leader Board is about as boffo a golf sim as you could ever wish for on the Spectrum. Even if you don't know your mashie from your niblick and you think a caddie's something to warm tea with (Isn't it? Ed) it's an essential purchase. As for me, I'll meet you at the 19th hole. Large G and T, barman...!
The third hole on the fourth and trickiest course is relatively straightforward. Take a 5 wood to the island on the right, and then an 8 or 9 iron to the green ('cos you're going clubbing!) The little pimple above your head isn't a bug, it's your aim. Use the joystick to get it just right.
611 shots later, here we are on the green. The indicator on the right shows you the slope, so I've aimed to compensate. Not that I got it in, of course - putting's not the strongest aspect of my game. Note the fab way you get to look back over the islands you've just swished and swooshed through (even though the backgrounds don't change!)