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Links Country Club

Spyglass Hill
by Eddie Schmidt

Links Corner Course Database ID Number - 1548
Release Date CRZ Filesize Par Course Length
2005-02-08  44,199,936  bytes 72  6862 yards
Type Style CRZ Filename
REAL  OCEAN  Spy2003.crz 
Course ID Course Key




The Basics: This is a remake of Eddie’s design of Spyglass Hill 2001 set in Monterrey California. Eddie Schmidt (a.k.a. “Golfzilla”) is a household name in the Links community. He is famous for recreating some of the finest designs in the business. From the impeccable recreation of the Country Club in Brookline, Mass. to the deceptively strategic Bull Run, Eddie has proven himself the master of a variety of course genres and established himself among the upper echelon of APCD course designers. Not surprisingly, Spyglass Hill 2003 is cut from that same cloth. Rather than completely running through the entire course again, I decided it best to include portions of Mike Nifong’s 2002 review of the prior version in addition to my comments on the upgrade -- immediately following Mike’s section. Mike captures the essence of the course perfectly and I would only be repeating things that he said.


From Mike Nifong’s Review of the 2001 Version:

Course type: This is a real course located on California’s Monterey Peninsula and operated (along with its sibling courses: Del Monte, Spanish Bay, and Pebble Beach - perhaps you have heard of some of them) by the Pebble Beach Company. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, and taking its name from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, the course is considered to be the toughest golf course in Northern California, and one of the toughest (and best) in the world.

First impressions: From the back tees on the par-5 595-yard first hole, you find yourself looking down an alley lined on either side by tall pine trees. More pine trees are visible straight ahead, since the fairway arcs around to the left toward a green that is hidden from your view by the wall of pines on that side. Through the trees to your right, about 130 yards in front of you, you can see the tee area of the practice facility (yes, it is playable – just pick up your ball and drag it over there). While you cannot see the ocean vistas yet, you can marvel at the meticulousness with which this course is maintained as you plan to drive the ball (following the advice of the hole preview) down the left side of the fairway to set yourself up to go for the green in two.

What comes next: If you did not recognize from the outset that you were on a very special course, that realization will dawn very soon. Perhaps it will be from the fairway on #1 when you first catch a glimpse of the ocean and hear the waves breaking on shore. Certainly it will be by the time you tee off on #2, with its sandy dunes mottled with the green of the ice plants . . . just one of the many special touches that contribute to its unique beauty. There are many others evident in the seaside holes (the course turns back into the forest at #6): the excellent ground level planting, the paths through the dunes, the houses along the beach, the sailboats on the ocean, even identifiable seagulls wheeling overhead (well, not really wheeling, since that is beyond the capability of the APCD, but you get the picture). The two par-3’s on the front nine, #3 and #5, play toward the ocean, and they are among the more attractive holes created thus far in Links. This would also probably be a good time to mention the pano (another Dlunatic design), which is splendid (actually, that is Eddie’s word, but it fit so well I borrowed it), as usual: it fits seamlessly into the design, looks perfectly natural, and never calls attention to itself – just what a pano should do.

Although the character of the course changes once it turns inland, the level of meticulousness does not. As was mentioned above, Eddie has some experience with courses set in pine forests, and it shows. The textures here are generally a little smoother, the colors a little less saturated than those used in Southern Pines, and they are exceptionally well chosen. Ground level planting is also, appropriately, sparser here. The bunkers are uniformly well done, among the best in Links.


My Impressions Of The Course: In 2002, I had the good fortune to play the real Spyglass Hill. Unless you have been there and seen this breed of golf course -- Spyglass, Pebble, Spanish Bay -- you cannot fully appreciate the different look and feel that they have when compared to others around the United States and the world. Eddie has accurately recreated that mystical feeling while maintaining the hard-nosed playability of what is one beast of a track. Spyglass Hill is not for the faint of heart. Although you can knock it on all of the par 5s and there are some short, almost reachable par 4s, the severe elevation changes play hard by the ocean and the chutes of trees as you turn away from the sea ensnare balls with an evil hollowness. Basically, if you intend to play well at Spyglass Hill, you better bring it. Because the course always does.

APCD Technique: Eddie’s technique requires little comment. It is nearly flawless. The textures are sharp and perfectly chosen for this Monterrey gem, the planting -- including the unique ice planting on the front nine -- are very well integrated into the surroundings and provide a beautiful backdrop upon which the players can test their skills against the twisting, turning fairways and sharply sloping greens.

The Upgrade: The differences between Spyglass 2001 and Spyglass 2003 are the only aspect of this project that I might take issue with. But frankly, that is difficult to do given the excellent result. The changes are minimal yet effective. Eddie (along with his wife who he indicates is learning her way around the APCD) upgraded the following:

(1) textures upgraded to higher resolution 512x512 quality;
(2) moved the sailboat away from the rock;
(3) tightened up the hole boundaries for more effective ANI play;
(4) reworked the tees;
(5) new splash screen and logo;
(6) added a bit of slope to the 2nd green; and
(7) slightly reworked the slopes and pins on the 9th green.

Not a major undertaking by any means, but the attention to detail is appreciated and the new textures add a nice level of depth to the course that takes it to the next level. The main thing that I and many others would have liked to see is seam blending throughout the course. But, as Eddie has stated, he never intended the course for a 2003 release. He and his wife worked on the “clean-up” (as he calls it) for personal use but later decided to release it to the public. We are all certainly glad that you chose to release it, Ed.

Overall Impression & Recommendation: I cannot recommend this course highly enough. Not only is it brilliantly constructed, but the course itself is a joy to play. It is simply one of the finest real course creations we have. At 43 MB, moreover, this is not only a steal; it is a must.

CLIPNOTES by Ben Bateson (ousgg)

Real, ocean course.
Concept  8/10
This is a fantastic re-creation of a fantastic course. After an amazing first six holes which literally play across the beach, the course enters dense coastal forest and the style of golf is perceptibly altered. The level of detail in this course is excellent and it really assists in giving a genuine sense of atmosphere and location. The hole design becomes a little hackneyed towards the end of the round and the 18th finishes with a whimper rather than a bang.
Appearance  9/10
The textures at Spyglass are unique and, although the seaweed-strewn beach takes some getting used to, very appropriate. The ocean looks amazing and the woodland is faithfully planting with clones hard to spot. Only a few hard transitions spoil the look of the course as a whole.
Playability  6/10
Spyglass starts off on a wave of fun, and the opening beach holes are rich in risk/reward options, but sadly, the thrill palls later on in the course as the woodland holes become a bit same-y. Still, there’s the brilliant potential acquired by playing a real course, the forest holes require some thought and shot-shaping off the tee, and that makes it a little easier to ignore some of the course’s (not the designer’s, I hasten to add) shortcomings.
Challenge  10/10
Unlike a lot of real course conversions, this brilliantly maintains the challenge present by the real-life versions. OB is a constant threat, and the longer holes are brilliantly laid out in order not to be a pushover. The green gradients are just sufficient to be challenging, without being unrealistic. This is a brilliant challenge for golfers of any skill level on any settings.
Technical  9/10
Although the texture blends are sometimes harsh, this is an immaculate piece of work in so many ways. The re-creation of a fine course is as near perfect as makes no difference, textures are brilliantly worked, and elevations are totally natural. Making the planting of the forests so natural is a work of art, no less.
Overall Easily among the best as far as real courses re-created for Links goes. Perhaps the course itself isn’t as vibrant as we’ve been led to believe, but the designer certainly shouldn’t be faulted. 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
Ace64 %91
Eagle29 %41
Birdie4 %6
Par2 %3
Bogey or worse1 %1

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