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Sarazen Links
by Gordon Martin & Steve Avery

Links Corner Course Database ID Number - 1500
Release Date CRZ Filesize Par Course Length
2004-11-05  54,120,448  bytes 72  7196 yards
Type Style CRZ Filename
FICTIONAL  LINKS  Sarazen_Links.crz.crz 
Course ID Course Key

What you have is a traditional links style course, following to within a metre or two the exact layout Gene Sarazen drew up. The St Andrews Bay Hotel dominates the centre of the course. St Andrews, and northeast Fife is the actual panorama used – you can just about make out the hangars at RAF Leuchars in the distance.
There are undulating fairways, subtle and not-so-subtle borrows on the greens, gorse bushes, dune grass and one of the most testing par 3’s I’ve played in Links (aptly it’s the 13th) and to cap it all, a wonderful cliff top finish.

To get the best from this course, set your sky to overcast, your wind speed high and your greens to fast – I hope you enjoy it!

To finish – a HUGE thank you to Steve Avery who took on what had become a dead duck and brought it to life. Without his input, Sarazen Links would never have been completed.

Gordon J. Martin



Reviewed by: Big Three

Designer Background: This is the third course designed by Gordon Martin, having previously released two 2K1 designs; Hillcrest in 2001 and GlenDevon in 2002. This is the fourth course released by Steve Avery. His previous releases are Twin Rivers Golf Club, the original version of Oakland Hills North and the recent 2K3 updated version. With this release, Mr. Avery has achieved an impressive record of winning Links Corner Recommended awards on all four of his designs. This is the first time that Gordon Martin and Steve Avery have collaborated on a design.

Course Overview: Sarazen Links is a unique design in the history of APCD design. It is a 7196 yard Par 72 fictional links style design. It has the standard arrangement of 4 Par 5’s and 4 Par 3’s. The word “fictional” is a bit misleading, in that the course is actually an accurate recreation of a course designed by Gene Sarazen. Unfortunately Sarazen passed away before the course could be built. After his death, a course designed by Sam Torrance was built in its’ place, bearing no similarity to the Sarazen design other than location. The story of how the course developed is quite interesting.

Gordon Martin works as a surveyor in Fife, Scotland and had access to most of the property plans in the area. The detailed plans for the Sarazen Course came into his office, which included the fairways, bunkers, greens etc., even the stonewall that you see throughout the course, making scanning it into the APCD a snap. He worked on the course off and on for about 4 years, before posting a request for some help. That is where Steve Avery came in. Mr. Avery updated the textures, did the planting, seam blending etc. Gordon gives Steve the credit for “bringing the course to life”. For all practical purposes, this is a “fictional” real course design.

Layout/Playability: Although not true “links” type land, being that the course is set on a cliff top next to the ocean, Sarazen Links is a links-style golf course. The look, feel and layout are definitely links style golf. The fairways have a lot of little swales, rolls and bumps, surrounded by a lot of tall grasses and bushes that translate to the appearance of the gorse infested planting that is a familiar site during The Open Championship (British Open). The course is nearly treeless with the exception of surrounding areas. Everything about the course says “links”.

The fairways are very generous, with lots of room to move the ball around off of the tee to set up for the best approach on the second shot. Most of the fairways meander back and forth from tee to green. It takes a poor swing to miss them, making the tee shot appear easy, although it is important to get to the correct part of the fairway on many holes. The bumps and swales in the fairway will give you many different looks in terms of the lie, although none that I would characterize as being unfair. The fairways are surrounded by a first cut of rough, followed by a “deepgrass” area – which also plays as rough. The penalty of the deepgrass area is that here is where the tall grass/gorse and shrubbery planting is located. In most areas there is a transition of deepgrass between the rough and the planting. Hitting a shot into the gorse areas will most likely cost you a stroke. There are some heavily planted “tall grass” areas as well, but most of these require a pretty poor shot to reach.

The course is a nice mixture of long, intermediate and short Par 4’s, calling on a variety of clubs for approach shots. All of the Par 5’s are reachable in certain conditions, although the 11th and the 18th would require a significant wind assist. A couple of the Par 4’s may be reachable in windy conditions. The Par 3’s are a variety of lengths, from about 160 yards up to the 239 yard downhill 13th, which features a large swale in the green. The 13th has already achieved some notoriety among Linksters.

The bunkers are not of the sod-walled type seen on many links courses, this being the main place where the course doesn’t appear like the proto-typical links venue. Instead, they are of the lipless variety, with a nice seam-blend giving them the ragged sand to grass appearance around the edges. They are strategically located, and many difficult pin locations require a shot around or over a protecting greenside trap.

The greens are very reminiscent of a links layout, with lots of little rolls and swales, although they actually are fairly easy to putt as long as you are inside 20 feet to the flag.

My favorite holes are the short Par 4 17th and the long Par 5 18th. Both are along the seaside cliff, offering a great view. The 18th is reminiscent in design and location of the 18th at Pebble Beach. Provided that you can keep the ball out of the ocean, these closing holes provide a late round opportunity for a couple of birdies.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my numerous rounds on this course. In moderate conditions, I found the course to be fairly easy to play. But this is a seaside links course, and moderate conditions are not what this course brings to mind. Crank up the wind and difficulty to truly enjoy this course. As suggested by Mr. Martin, set the sky to overcast and you will feel like you are playing in Scotland. Keep in mind that the design and layout are not the work of the designers. In a sense, this is a “real” design, being that the layout and elevation work are true to the original plans of Gene Sarazen.

Planting/Textures: As I said, the planting on this course is spot on. I think it is my favorite aspect of the course. Mr. Avery did an outstanding job with the planting and texture choices. The textures and the planting all have just a bit of that dry look to them, reminiscent of a links course. The planting is truly phenomenal. It is one of the best and most realistic jobs of capturing the gorse look alongside the fairways that I have seen. The tall grasses are populated with bushes and shrubbery and occasional wildflowers can be seen mixed in. The whitecap – foam texture along the rockbound coast is well done and adds a nice to touch to the view, although it looks just a bit too yellowish-green to me. The familiar red-bricked St. Andrews buildings are visible throughout the course, and since the course is located just south of St. Andrews and was intended to be part of the St. Andrews Bay development, are wholly appropriate and add to the overall look and feel of the design. The sounds used on the course are also an added plus. Crickets quietly chirp in the background on the interior holes, while the sounds of the ocean crashing on the rocks can be heard as you approach the seaside. You can hear the wind whipping around on two of the elevated Par 3 tees, while the occasional birdcall is evident a few times per round. Most importantly, the sounds are mixed perfectly in terms of volume and location. Having reviewed the previous course by Mr. Avery, I’ve come to really appreciate his talent in the planting of sounds.

APCD: The APCD work is very well done, as expected. All the work is tight and clean, with nothing looking out of place. The only flaw that I found was a section of the stonewall next to the 10th fairway being up in the air, although it is well out of play and is truly a minor issue.

Extras: All the extras that would be expected in a course of this caliber are there. Custom splash screen and cameo, tees and flags, to name a few, are among the included extras. Mr. Martin’s readme tells the interesting tale of the creation of this course - a journey which began back in 1999. The hole previews show a nice view of the hole layout from above with important distances marked, along with a nice inset showing the predominant slope of the green. Crowds and tournament objects are included for those looking for that tournament feel. There are some custom 2D objects included in the course.

Summary: With Sarazen Links, Gordon Martin and Steve Avery have created an excellent links-style course for us to enjoy. This course is easily a recommended download. Even those who only play real courses may want to give this one a look. As I said, this “true to the actual design” release makes this a real course in every sense of the word with the obvious exception that it was never built. Or, even if you are not a links course aficionado, you should download this beauty just to look at the magnificent planting. It provides a challenging round that is fun to play and great to look at. I look forward to (hopefully) further collaborations between Gordon and Steve … Kingsbarns perhaps? Thank you for an excellent design gentlemen.

This course was reviewed using Links v1.05 without Mod 1.06

CLIPNOTES by Ben Bateson (ousgg)

Fictional, links course
Concept  10/10
The course that never was. A truly brilliant and inspired use of the APCD, in order to create a course designed by Gene Sarazen shortly before his death, and one which was consequently never built. As near to a real course as you can get, this truly emanates authenticity, and it has to be said that the late Mr Sarazen would be utterly impressed with the efforts that these two boys have gone to in order to bring his course to life. As one would expect from a golf legend, hole design is first-class, being both accommodating and deceptively difficult at one and the same time.
Appearance  8/10
Suffers a little from Links Course Disease which means that, with all honesty, good views are at a premium. That’s not to say that the course hasn’t been constructed intelligently and with regards to lifelike landscape, because it most certainly has. Textures and blends are clean and the planting (always difficult for low-level grasses) is an absolute joy. Very well done indeed.
Playability  9/10
With impressive variety for a links-type course and some careful planning required on many holes, Sarazen will certainly eat up much of your time Particularly impressive are the bunkers which have meticulously designed both for challenge and escape. Not too penal, but hazardous without spoiling your round, the sand is probably the key element to a very enjoyable round.
Challenge  6/10
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was an easy course based on the first half-dozen holes, but the test stiffens up during the round. Nevertheless the greens are pretty easy (although links greens should be), and the Par 5s are obvious birdie opportunities. Even with the recommended difficult settings, you’d expect to go round under Par.
Technical  10/10
Very few flaws here: from the lovely planting, to the interesting and detailed combination of textures, this is a magnificent effort. Moreover, it’s a brilliant illustration in co-operation between an APCD rookie and an experienced designer 8,000 miles away. What more could you ask for?
Overall Among the best as far as design, playability and co-operation go. I can’t imagine anyone who would not enjoy this course. 43/50
Please remember that Clipnote reviews are the opinion of one person and do not constitute an 'Official' Links Corner review of the course.


 Votes cast
Ace30 %33
Eagle54 %59
Birdie9 %10
Par6 %7
Bogey or worse0 %0

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