Willow Country Club
by John Lopez
|Links Corner Course Database ID Number - 1169
||Willow Country Club V1.0.crz
LINKS CORNER REVIEW
|Reviewed by Robert Rundel
Willow Country Club 2003 is Mr. Lopez' second Links Corner release. His first release, New Mexico State University, was released in March of this year, but, curiously, it was never officially reviewed, and has no user reviews. Willow CC was designed using the APCD 1.5, so it is playable only in Links 2003. I have played 2k3 since it's release, but I have not previously reviewed a course with it. I will try to comment in this review specifically about the 2k3 enhancements to this course.
The course is fictional, but loosely based on a real course. It is set in a dense woodland, but most of the holes are quite open. The trees don't press in on you as they do in some woodland courses. The trees are quite delightful! There are many kinds, both tall and short. The shadows, a major new feature in 2k3, add greatly to the realism and naturalness. All of the screenshots show the nice enhancement this brings to the Links experience. I particularly enjoyed the grove of birches by the 7th tee, the flowering trees behind the 9th green, and the gorgeous deep red trees behind the 10th green. There are also some beautifully done long grasses—the field of long yellow-brown grass beside the 14th fairway, and the long wild grass along the creek that runs through the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes. The textures that appear in APCD 1.5 courses in general are a really great improvement over those of previous versions. Screenshot 1 shows some good examples. Notice the difference in texture, as well as color, between the fairway, the rough, and the grass bordering the tee boxes. The wildflowers on the left, and the bushes on the right, also look very natural to me. After playing courses specifically designed for 2k3, it's hard to go back to an earlier version.
So, Willow CC is undoubtedly a very beautiful course. But so are most of the 2k3 courses I've played so far. As a group, they are all very well designed and quite lovely. Now let's consider Willow CC as a golfing experience, rather than a walk in the woods.
The front nine is rather undistinguished. All of the holes are flat and nearly straight, with only a few small bunkers. With the exception of the 1st green, they are all of average size and quite flat. I am glad to see hole handicaps are included, but many of them seem very strange to me. The 3 par 5 holes have the #1, 2, and 3 handicap ratings, although they are all reachable in two shots. The 1st hole, with its sharply tilted green, and the long par 4 10th holes seem much harder to me, although they are only the #7 and 8 handicap holes. It's hard to believe that these handicaps are based on actual play.
The back nine, to me, is a big improvement over the front. There are elevation changes, and several sharp doglegs. My favorite hole is the par 4 10th (screenshot 1). It's only 333 yards, but the drive goes uphill 24 yards to the top of the hill. Then the hole doglegs sharply to the left, with large trees at the inside of the dogleg. If your drive doesn't quite make it to the top of the hill, you may be screened from the green on your approach (screenshot 2).
The 14th hole, supposedly the #2 handicap hole, is a 522 yard par 5. It's a rather open straight fairway (screenshot 3). One large but meaningless bunker sits on the right of the fairway about 200 yards from the tee. Five small bunkers ring the green. A pretty field with long grass borders the fairway on the right. A 3-wood on the second shot should be sufficient to reach the green in 2. The green slopes up sharply from the front to a slight ridge, and then back down a bit. It's a hard hole to eagle because of the difficult green, but it's a pretty easy birdie. So much for the #2 handicap!
The 15th hole is quite unusual because of a fence which crosses the fairway in front of the green (screenshot 4). It's not clear just what the function of the fence may be.
The 17th hole is the most beautiful par 3, a short 152 yards with a 20 yard drop (screenshot 5). A creek fringed with wild grass flows behind the green, and the view of the forest from the tee is quite beautiful!
The 18th hole was a disappointment to me, a straight, level 381 yard par 4, with a flat green. It's generously rated the #10 handicap hole, but it's a pretty easy birdie. I'd like something a little more challenging for the final hole.
Now for a comment on the Links 2k3 golfing experience: I previously played with Arnold Palmer as my regular partner. Although he was excellent at chipping and putting, his longer shots sometimes strayed from perfect. Unfortunately, Arnold is not available in 2k3. L So I played this course with David Toms. Wow, is David ever good at this game! His shots rarely stray from perfect, and he finds 25 foot putts to be simple. David shot a 53 on this course, 18 under par. He had 2 eagles, 2 pars, and all the rest birdies. To me, he is way too perfect for the good of the game. To make matters worse, I find shotmaking in 2k3 to be noticeably more difficult. I'm a clicker, and 2k3 gives you so little margin for error on the snap that I find myself playing out of the rough a good deal more frequently.
Willow CC is a very beautiful course, but has little in the way of challenges. On the other hand, it's only a 35 Meg download, which is quite small for 2k3 courses. If you want an easy game, I recommend it.
Details: Fictional woodland 18-hole course, par 71, 6443 yards, 4 par 3s, 11 par 4s, 3 par 5s, 3 tees per hole. Readme file, a cameo and a splash screen with course pictures, hole handicaps, no hole previews, no hole signs, cart path, a few custom objects—ball washers and trash cans, fence, one small building.
|This course is available as a FREE download.
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