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El Escorpion 2005
by Mike Jones

Release Date CRZ Filesize Par Course Length
2017-06-28  65,634,304  bytes 72  7121 yards
Type Style CRZ Filename
FICTIONAL  WOODLAND  ElEscorpion2005.crz 
Course ID Course Key

Re-released as a free download June 2017

From the Readme...
The recent release of the links modification brought the forefront the very sloping greens and under faster conditions the 2001 course was almost unplayable. This along with the many mails I have received over the last year enquiring when I would be updating the course prompted me to return to Escorpion and bring it up to the visual and playability standards that people have come to expect from my Links2003 courses.



Reviewed by Chris Gormley

Background Info:
I have spent quite a bit of time pondering if I wanted to try and describe Mike’s reputation around the Links Community and whether to mention the quality of his courses but I have decided that all that is stuff that everyone already knows so I will just be talking about El Escorpion during this review(or at least I will try and do that.) I do need to mention however that this is the 12th 2003 design (Augusta National 2005 included as he was part of the team that worked on it) released by Mike Jones and he also has some 2001 designs to his credit as well. If you have been around the Links Community for any length of time you will know his name and his previous master works so I will not mention them all here. Thirteen of his courses have earned the prestigious “Links Corner Recommended Course” Award, with five of those courses being chosen as “Players Choice” awards. Here is a little bit from the readme:
The course
Welcome to the readme file for El Escorpion. This fictional course is set on the sunny East coast of Spain where I now make my home. The sandy, rocky soil and wonderful mountain views make it a lovely place to play golf although in summer the heat really becomes too much and you almost feel like diving into the lakes to cool down as you play around the course!

When I originally conceived the course back in 2001 (it seems like a lifetime ago) I had the idea to make it the most strategic test of golf that I could, so that the thoughtful golfer would have a clear advantage. I may have been a little over zealous with some of the fairway narrowing and green slopes and although the course was very well received at the time (winning course of the month at Links Corner) I was never totally satisfied with the way it turned out. As my knowledge of course architecture has grown I decided to apply some of the things I had learned over the last few years to make the course play the way I had originally thought it might.

The recent release of the links modification brought the forefront the very sloping greens and under faster conditions the 2001 course was almost unplayable. This along with the many mails I have received over the last year enquiring when I would be updating the course prompted me to return to Escorpion and bring it up to the visual and playability standards that people have come to expect from my Links2003 courses.

The construction.
Having played many test rounds both alone and with trusted friends I began to make notes on which holes needed to change. The course was originally constructed using shape insertion techniques so the first thing that needed to be fixed was the mesh and elevations. I have improved the mesh course wide in the process smoothing out many of the unrealistic slopes and elevation changes that plagued the original course. All the greens were re elevated from scratch making the greens much fairer than before. That's not to say they are easy though!

Once the mesh and elevations were fixed I started to construct new bunkers and tees. Those familiar with the 2001 course will easily spot the changes the most substantial being the remodeled 10th hole. The hole is now shorter and instead of playing over a waste area to a very narrow green I have widened the fairway to allow a short iron to be played over a mammoth new fronting bunker to a green now much more receptive to good play. I used to hate the 10th hole but now I love it - I hope you do too!
Many new tees have been added around the course both to change playing angle and alter hole lengths and also to maximize variety from the forward tee locations. Most of the bunkers have been re-elevated and it goes without saying that they have the multiple texture blending features that have become one of my trademark features. The rest of the textures have been changed and updated from the dryer looking scrubland texture to the high resolution grass textures seen throughout the course. the totally new rough textures were once again made using digital photographs as their base. they give a more clumpy uneven look to the rough without tiling problems. I'm very pleased with them.Tees with divots, new custom fairway, fringe and green textures complete the overall look.
Planting has been updated with fine tuning to the already good planting (it has been said that the original El Escorpion had already had some of the best planting seen on a 2001 course) Dave Campbell has made the wonderful new hole previews and they will be an invaluable aid if you play the game at the higher difficulty settings with no top camera view.

The course is still instantly recognizable but with the new alterations and improvements it's a whole lot more fun to play. I wish you many happy rounds!

Overall Impressions:
As it is with all of Mikes other courses the course layout is some of the best we currently have in the Links Community, and El Escorpion is no different. The interesting and strategic layout of holes makes a player think first and shoot second. A player must use a little bit of course management with El Escorpion and not a grip and rip attitude if they want to score well. To much time and effort has been put into the hole designs by Mike Jones to challenge the player if they don’t. The course itself is visually stunning with many places where you can catch glimpses of the other holes on the course, thus making the course feel very lifelike. While playing a round at El Escorpion you really feel like you are in the hills in Spain playing your round. The elevation work all throughout the course is superbly done, which also adds to the “it could almost be real” effect that the course portrays. The seam blending done on the course is as usual for an MJ design top notch and ties all the different aspects of the course together into one cohesive work.

The fairways show that quite a bit of thought has been put into the course in regards to course management. The fairways are contoured to challenge a player no matter where their tee shot lands. A player will experience many different lies thought an 18 hole round at El Escorpion. The balance between risk/reward is a tightrope walk and Mike stays right on the rope all throughout the course. Even playing El Escorpion with WFF conditions and the MOD I could not find any places on the fairways that I would deem as unfair. The design gives the player many options off of the tee on where to land that first shot but remember, MJ is a master at course management, so some of those “obvious” places to land your first shot may not be the best place to start your quest for birdie on that particular hole.

The greens at El Escorpion are designed and contoured very well. Although some will be tough for the MOD at F/F settings they are not impossible. They just require that a player place their approach shots carefully. An example of this would be the green on Hole #11. If the pin is cut to the right side on the shelf of the green it will be an easy putt, but if you putt off of that shelf or your approach shot does not stay on the shelf it will be a much tough shot. Like I stated above MJ has done a very good job of rewarding players who make the shots and penalizing those that do not.

The hazards used throughout the course are placed very well and challenge a player at every turn. The hazards protect more parts of the course than the planting does because of the nature of the planting, which I believe to be very characteristic for the area that Mike has based this course on in Spain. The construction of the bunkers is very good, which is to be expected in every MJ design. Like I mentioned above when talking about fairways, remember MJ is a master at course management so just when you think that you have navigated the bunkers and water perfectly the fairway will be contoured just right so that you are still left with a challenging shot. This course is one of the best examples of how 2 parts of the overall design of the course should compliment each other. The fairways and the hazards work very well together and where one may seem easier to navigate the other is always there to challenge your shots.

The planting throughout the course is excellent, especially the underplanting, which is some of the best I think we have seen since Wayne Hewitt’s Wagga Wagga CC. Mike also sticks to the overall theme of the course as a “pseudo-desert/mountain course by using the smaller trees and planting that is closer to the ground. There are a couple of larger trees(Hole #8, Greenside) scattered throughout the course and these are always placed strategically to protect some part of the course from being exploited by the player. I have always felt that planting the course with vegetation is one of the hardest aspects of creating a design but Mike has made the process seem very simple with El Escorpion.

The textures used throughout the course compliment each other very well and are also very characteristic of the region the course is based on. I especially like the look of the fairway texture that is used in El Escorpion. It just gives the course the look and feel of the rough surroundings that the course is created in. It is no wonder that everyone always go to Mike for texture help when doing courses after seeing these textures.

Now let’s walk through some holes on the course:

Hole 9: This is a Par 5 hole that measures in at around 520+ yards. The drive off the tee will not be easy with water and sand protecting the landing area. And to complicate things even more the water is located in the area to where you might think you can carry it to reach the fairway on the other side to give your self a massive first shot and an easy 2nd shot. The only problem is the fairway on the greenside of the water is a bit higher than the other side therefore 9 times out of 10 your shot will hit that rise and bounce back into the water unless you hit a massive shot that carries this entirely. The approach to the green should not be a difficult one no matter where you choose to land your drive as the green is large and roomy. It is however protected by water and sand so make sure you are accurate with the shot. This green is also one of the more contoured ones throughout the course so try and get it as close as you can to the pin.

Hole 11: This is medium par 3 that measures in just under 168 yards. It is heavily protected by 4 bunkers just ready to gobble up any shots that go astray. This is a great green and will challenge a player to go for the stick and get it close otherwise a 2 or 3 putt might be in the works for this hole.

Hole 14: This is a Par 4 hole that comes in at around 414 yards. I think this is probably the prettiest hole I have seen in Links 2003 and it also happens to be one of the more challenging holes on the course. From the tee you are looking down towards the green and all you can see is water to the left and a fairway that slopes towards that water. There is also a bunker placed near the prime landing area just to keep you on your toes as if the water has not done that already. If you can keep your drive straight and aim carefully taking into account that the roll will always move towards the water hazard you can safely navigate this hole, at least the first shot of it. After you land your drive safely the danger is not done yet, because the green although itself not really challenging is protected by 3 large bunkers on all sides of the green. This green in not contoured to toughly and you should be able to score a birdie on this hole, that is if you can keep your shots in play and out of the hazards.

Closing comments:
El Escorpion was a great 2001 design and Mike Jones has taken an already great course and made it better with this update. This design has just about everything, it is pleasant to the eyes, is constructed well, and it makes a player think and use course management during a round. I highly recommend everyone to get this update as I believe that it is one of Mike Jones’s best course releases to date. I did use the mod while play testing this course to make sure things were MOD safe and after playing 5 or so rounds I could not find any really unfair spots anywhere on the course. Be aware though that using FF greens will give you a large challenge that you will need to be ready for as some of the greens are contoured pretty well, but not unfairly in my opinion.

CLIPNOTES by Ben Bateson (ousgg)

Fictional, heathland course.
Concept  8/10
With a name like this you’d expect a dry, desert course, but Mike Jones never fails to surprise. This is quite richly planted and features a jungle-like heavy rough which lies close to many a fairway. Most hole designs are good, although they do tend to the very straight and lack the inventiveness of the designer’s other courses. I’m not 100% convinced that the landscape is 100% Spanish, though: this could easy be set in a dozen other locarions.
Appearance  8/10
This is generally a good-looking course, although I spotted a rare hard edge which barely tarnishes the designer’s reputation. The heavy rough is a delight and is planted with various but natural-looking foliage. The panorama is understated and rarely spoils the view. There are better-looking courses around, but this was designed for playing, not looking at.
Playability  10/10
I could barely believe how fast 18 holes passed. Constantly trying to get around and on top of this course is a full-time occupation, and you will be made to work with every shot. Every par feels like an achievement; a birdie little short of a miracle. The Par 5s are particularly testing and offer a variety of ways to play them. You’ll never be stuck for a challenge at El Escorpion.
Challenge  7/10
This course is tricky without being too penal. The rough lies very close to the fairway, and there is very little leeway for those who do not hit their snaps. Bad lies will almost invariably cost you a shot at the green, so you need to take a variety of approach and recovery shots. At Champ level it’s very testing indeed.
Technical  9/10
As one would expect from this designer, the APCD has been worked to its full potential. Elevations and textures are a perfect fit and the planting is a joy. The tee boxes – notoriously a problem – are carried off with aplomb and look wonderful. The occasional hard edge, one would assume, is something of a clerical error.
Overall A brilliant creation. Perhaps not the archetypal Mike Jones visual course, but a subtle and challenging test of golf which is easy on the eye too. 42/50
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
Ace66 %75
Eagle21 %24
Birdie5 %6
Par4 %4
Bogey or worse4 %5

Click to see the user poll in our forum and register your own vote and opinion.
Click to see the user poll in our forum and register your own vote and opinion.

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