Southern Hills Country Club 2001
by Ross Mackenzie
|Links Corner Course Database ID Number - 1378
LINKS CORNER REVIEW
|Reviewed by Bill Bradley
Southern Hills is a rendition of a real course in Tulsa, USA. It is Ross' first course for Links Corner and, as the name suggests, is a Links 2001 course.
Length 7017 yards Par 70
4 par 3's (2 front, 2 back), 12 par 4's (6 and 6), 2 par 5's (1 and 1)
Longest hole 654 yards, shortest hole 173 yards
5 tees on most holes, but on some there are only 4 as the ladies tee is amalgamated with the front tee
69 Mb download
Included: Cameo, splash screen, 3 read me files which contain loads of info on the course, hole previews, crowds, a few tournament objects, custom flags, custom textures, custom pano and custom 2-.and 3-D (made from terrain) objects.
Not Included: Nothing that this reviewer noticed!
Difficulty: Quite difficult, extremely so if you are having a bad day!
The course is not locked.
Right from the start Southern Hills looks like a great course (screenshot 1). It is a real course and was used for the US Open Championship in 2001. I have no idea if it is a perfect rendition but am prepared to believe that it is very close. It is a very 'green' course with the custom textures being somewhat darker than the standard textures available and this seems to add to the effect of realism. Southern Hills is a very nice looking course with many bridges and walls around the course and also a few buildings, all of which add to the general ambience of the place. Perhaps the one drawback is the pano. Ross has made his own pano and, having read all of the read me files I was looking forward to seeing the Tulsa skyline from the first tee but said skyline is incredibly distant and very small and apart from that the pano simply consists of a flat densely forested landscape (and maybe that is what the pano is around Tulsa - I don't know), but it doesn't sit well with the beauty of the course.
Textures and Planting
The textures Ross has made are excellent. When playing it is difficult sometimes to believe that this is a 2001 course. I think he has made a magnificent job of them and those who still play 2001 are going to love it. For 2003 players, of course there is no seam blending, but I really did not miss it. I do think that Ross would have been better served using the hi-res 512x512 textures available in 2003, particularly with the heavy rough which has a look of thick carpet about it. I think perhaps some of the bunkers could have benefited from the 2003 seam-blending treatment, but for the most part they were very well done and nicely and evenly extruded. I particularly liked the ochre coloured sand (perhaps because I spent so much time in it!), but it did make a very nice change from the white sand that seems to be eternally popular these days (screenshot 4).
I guess it is because the rendition is meant to be the US Open 2001 version of the course, but the heavy rough does tend to get very close to both the fairways and the greens (screenshot 3) and landing in it can be disastrous. The stuff really holds onto the ball and landing a short way off the fairway will, as like as not, cost a shot - which can work out quite expensive if you are having an off day with the driver.
There are huge crowds (screenshot 5) - which can be a bit of a drawback on a slower machine, and some tournament objects on the early holes. Many of the trees seem to be custom objects and the tree planting is fantastic. There is no repetition. I am sure that not every tree on the course is different, but it certainly feels like that. I should mention whilst talking about trees, some of them are solid right up to the top and over most of their width which can be pretty frustrating if you are expecting to just skim the topmost branches and end up bouncing back in the same direction you came. I won't go into the details here, Ross, but I know there is a way to limit the amount of a tree that is completely solid - someone will be able to give you the low-down in the Designers Forum. The brick and stone walls and the brick bridges are fantastic! (screenshot 9) And watch out for the excellent clock tower which resides behind the 12th green and can be seen very nicely with the dynamic cam from the tee shot.
Hole Layouts and Elevations
For a real course Southern Hills is great to play on a computer. The risk/reward strategy situations are plentiful and if you take the risk and fail - well you only have yourself to blame (screenshots 6 [risk - cut the corner of the dog-leg by going over the trees] and 7 [reward - a short loft wedge onto the green]). The course is far from flat (screenshot 2) and Ross has worked his elevations remarkably well. There are no sharp edges anywhere, and despite a warning about extrusions possibly causing bad bounces on greens I did not find that to be the case. The greens are beautifully sloped and sculptured with some good thoughtful pin planting. (screenshot 8) Greens are not easy but neither are they so difficult that they make putting a chore. They are a challenge but a good player should be able to enjoy making some good putts here. The layout of the holes is excellent (screenshot 10) but I guess the original designer of the real course should have credit for that - credit which Ross does give in his read me files.
This was well done and never became intrusive.
This is the first Ross has designed for Links and he has shown himself to be an excellent designer. Southern Hills is a very impressive course and I would urge everyone to give it a go. Ross promises, in his read me files, that he will be creating a 2003 version of the course in the future - as far as I am concerned the sooner the better.
Many people, including myself if I am honest, prefer to see 2003 courses and I do think that this will be a drawback for some (despite my comments under Textures and Planting) and I find it difficult to give this course the highest possible rating because of that. When added to the problem of the trees and the less than interesting pano I find myself only able to give it a rating as top 25% course. I think the LC Recommended Award is well deserved but the course doesn't quite make it right to the top.
I will certainly be keeping this course and will be playing it regularly and I eagerly await the promised 2003 version of it. In my opinion if Ross produces the 2003 version he will be a cert to be gaining a Top 10% rating and I would not be at all surprised if that version carries off a Players Choice Award as well.
Well done Ross on an incredibly good first effort
CLIPNOTES by Ben Bateson (ousgg)
Please remember that Clipnote reviews are the opinion of one person and do not constitute an 'Official' Links Corner review of the course.
Real, parkland course.
Lush and impeccably manicured, Southern Hills is very austere in its
clipped presentation and rich landscape. It's first and foremost a real
tournament course, and is naturally best played in tournament mode.
Long, testing holes bring both woodland and bunkers heavily into play,
and there is the additional peril of water coming into play on the closing
holes. The lack of good trademark holes is a disappointment, though, as is
the general lack of strategic options. The whole thing has been ported to
APCD very well, and makes for compelling golf.
This is an APCD 1.1 design, although you'd barely believe it. The texture choices are such that transitions are never overtly noticeable,
although there are quite a few extrusion marks visible in many points. The main draw, though, is the excellent use of 3D and textures
to create buildings, flowerbeds and other course structures. It's the little things like these that keep the round interesting.
Southern Hills is a decent course, although the closeness of the heavy rough is likely to irritate those playing with difficult swing types,
and send scores rocketing accordingly. There's a lack of risk/reward and heroic shots, though; conservative golf is the way to go here,
and that inevitably won't appeal to everyone.
The heavy rough will inevitably cost strokes, and the trees are brought into play often. Thankfully, most of the fairways are
accommodatingly flat, although the same can't always be said for the greens. You'd be lucky to break par here.
On the large scale, this is a great technical effort using inferior design software. Sadly, close-to, just too many flaws start to appear.
There's a distinct lack of grass planting, which should be a must for disguising some untidy tree planting and water features. There's
quite a few hard edges to the 3D sculpture. The course's greatest achievement is the use of good textures in the early incarnation of
APCD; something quite a few predecessors found themselves unable to do.
||Southern Hills should be a front-runner for anybody's golf tournament. It's got the
challenge; it's got the lavishness; it's got the tenacity and consistency. Sadly, what
it doesn't have, is long-term playability.
|This course is available as a FREE download.
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