Meresbrook Forest G.C.
by Alan Toft
|Links Corner Course Database ID Number - 1482
||Meresbrook Forest G.C._locked.crz
LINKS CORNER REVIEW
|Reviewed by: Big Three
Designer Background: This is the fourth course released by Alan Toft. His previous releases have been Blackclough Forest, Culbeck Heath and Lagalochan Bay. Culbeck Heath and Lagalochan Bay both received Links Corner Recommended awards. Blackclough Forest was also well thought of by most members.
From the Readme: Meresbrook Forest G.C. is the fourth course I have designed for Links and I hope that you will see an improvement over my previous courses as I hope that my knowledge of the APCD is gradually starting to improve.
The course is a fictional course set in Central England and a lot of the inspiration for this course came from a few of the courses within a 15 mile radius of my home. The layout of the course and the design of the holes however are purely fictional and are not based on any actual holes at these courses.
I would like to say thanks to Mike Jones for the textures I have used on the course and also thanks to all that have offered help and suggestions with the many problems I have had during the months I have spent on this course. I am sure that the final course is now a lot better thanks to the help I have received. Hope you enjoy your golf at Meresbrook Forest G.C.
Course Overview: Meresbrook Forest Golf Club is a Fictional/Woodland course. It is a Par 72, 7245 yard course with 4 sets of tees. The course has the standard arrangement of four Par 5's / four Par 3's.
Layout/Playability: Let's get this out of the way right off the top; Meresbrook Forest is an excellent design both in playability and in design technique.
The course is a heavily wooded, challenging and fun design. Right from the first tee, you see that your drive appears as if it needs to be guided between trees. Get used to it, this challenge is presented on just about every hole. There is more room than it appears, but smacking a tree off of the tee is always in mind if not a reality. In my many practice rounds I never did hit one, but I thought I might several times. It is a great visual/psychological technique. You will probably find yourself moving the ball on a few tees depending on wind direction and your landing target in order to be assured of avoiding a collision.
The fairways also employ this same design philosophy. The heavily wooded areas surrounding the holes gives the appearance of narrow fairways, but in reality they are easily hit most times with room for slightly missed shots. But just hitting the fairway is not going to be enough. Many holes have a slight bend left or right to them, although only the 344 yard 2nd Hole is what I would call a severe dogleg. Because of the proximity of the trees, being on the left hand side of a fairway when the hole bends gently left can create tree problems on the approach. So proper placement in the fairway is needed to score well here. The great thing about this course is the various challenges, although always present, are never unfair. They just require strategic thinking and the player is never penalized when a good shot is hit. The fairways have a good bit of gentle swells and roll in many places, so approach shots will provide a variety of lies and require a little extra planning. Elevation changes from tee to fairway and fairway to green are mild, with none more than 25 to 30 feet.
The fairways are surrounded by a relatively small but fair amount of rough, followed by the deep grass wooded areas. Reaching the thickly wooded areas is going to be costly, as usually the lie is not going to be great, you will often have trees in your way, and you may have some type of grass or wild flower planting in front of you. The only helpful thing in the woods is that most of the trees are of the variety where the growth starts well above the ground, so recovery to the fairway is usually available, and sometimes a punch shot down the fairway is a possibility.
Nicely designed bunkers are strategically located to add challenge on many drives. The bunkers are mostly round and scooped out, usually leaving the player with a fair chance of escape. The lips are fairly high, but the bowl shaped design rarely leaves one up against them.
The greens are probably my favorite part of the course. They are filled with little rolls and swales so that a flat putt beyond 5 feet is seldom seen. The greens are among the best combinations of challenge and fairness that I have seen. No huge hogbacks or several foot climbs, no 10 foot putts with four feet of break in them, but rather a great mixture of dips and slight slants calling for precision and care on nearly every putt.
Water is more prevalent in the design on the back nine, coming into play on 6 of the last 9 holes, after being a slight issue on only two holes on the front nine. Scoring well here will usually consist of getting a score on the front nine and trying not to throw it away on the back nine. The Par 5's, all of which may or may not be reachable depending on wind direction, will also contribute to a good score. An eagle every round is always possible, which should help the wood or water related double bogey that is always lurking. All that being said, I found the course to be of medium to slightly above medium difficulty.
My favorite hole is the 566 yard Par 5 13th, although the entire stretch from the 13th through the 18th presents a great series of challenges. The 13th is a great risk/reward design. It is reachable most times, but it requires a shot of precision to do so. The fairway is straight away, but the green is offset to the right behind a lake that lines the right hand side of the fairway. The lake empties into a creek that defines the left side of the green. A pair of trees planted in the perfect location along the right-center of the fairway creates even more difficulty to a tough situation. To go for it, you need to choose your challenge; hit a fade around the trees - a risky shot with the lake and stream, try to clear the trees while hitting it long enough to clear the lake, or even threading the shot between the two trees and the rest of the woods on the right. It is truly a great hole design.
Planting/Textures: The combination of beautiful planting and textures borrowed from Mike Jones makes this course look as great as it plays. The planting, predominantly trees with high growth with a few pines mixed in, is very reminiscent of the central England area where Mr. Toft has located his fictional design. The under planting of the wooded areas is very well done. Thick planting of tall grasses with occasional stands of purple and yellow wild flowers mixed in creates an extremely realistic appearance. The texture set matches the overall look very well. The textures all have a base of muted green, giving them the appearance of being a bit on the dry side. The fairway, rough and green all have brown patches mixed in here and there, giving them that added look of realism. The treatment of the tee areas is also well done, looking crisp and attractive situated as they are in the midst of wild growth and trees. Each tee area features a nicely done cart path that leads to the beginning of the fairway. The cart path has a small wood rail fence along one side to highlight and offset it from the surrounding terrain. Water areas are planted well on the edges. The out of bounds along the border of the course is highlighted by a rail fence or stonewall and is a nice touch. All in all, the total package creates an excellent atmosphere the easily makes you feel that you are there and, with little imagination, you can easily think and feel as if you are playing the course in real life.
APCD: Very little to say here, other than the APCD work is as good as everything else mentioned above. The APCD work is on par with the best. A great example of what can be done when the APCD is used to its' fullest potential.
Extras: All the extras that would be expected in a course of this caliber are there. A nice custom splash screen of the 18th green and clubhouse, custom cameo and flag, hole handicaps etc are all available. The hole previews are attractive and informative. Each one features an overhead of the hole set over an in-game view from the tee. They include the necessary distance to bunkers and hazards. Seam blending is expertly done. Crowds are included with the course for those who like to use them, although the planting and views are so outstanding that I found them to seem out of place and distracting.
Summary: In short, if you have not downloaded this course yet, quit reading this and get on with it. I would recommend this course without hesitation. As fine as Mr. Toft's previous courses have been, he has taken a great leap forward in his design ability with Meresbrook Forest. Don't let his humbleness in the readme fool you, this course is expertly done. Meresbrook Forest attains the ultimate playability compliment for a fictional design - it could easily be a real course. Mr. Toft has achieved a fine balance throughout the course of challenge in all aspects of the game while maintaining fairness and realism. No tricked up holes; just good solid thoughtful strategic design. But beyond that, the entire package exudes realism, with great planting that creates an atmosphere of being there. This is one of those courses that will bring enjoyment over and over again. To top it off, for those on 56K, the download is a mere 40MB.
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.
Fictional, forest course
The readme says Central England without further clarifications
It's difficult to justify anything faster than S*/M*
Meresbrook is Alan's best work, a rich and deep forest course with two distinct halves. With a front half stifled by the trees, particularly the
greens which are often quite ingeniously protected, the second half opens out significantly, using water to a reasonable extent. Both
halves cohere very well and are reminiscent of a genuine layout. It's all backed up by first-class presentation, including beautiful hole
The forest has been very competently planted and under-planted and there is only the merest hint of cloning in the grasses. The textures
are sound, even if there are hints of straight edges in some of the shapes. But there are also some lovely little touches in the bunker lips
and the objects surrounding the tees, all of which add tone. The design has aged very well, and there are several moments of classiness
which stand up to close scrutiny.
Erratic swingers might find the opening half something of a trial when they invariably spend time hacking out of the woods. But it's also a
measure of the designer's thoroughness to observe that there are no inescapable lies. The first half provides a splendid introduction to the
more target-oriented second nine - if the two halves were switched, it would be a much worse round. The whole thing is backed up by
excellent sound planting, too.
As long as you don't mind using the slower green conditions, or are an expert putter, this course is set up very effectively. The trees do
much of the hazarding and bunkers are effectively placed for the over-ambitious or wayward. The water on the back nine is strategically
spot-on without being in-your-face. Much will come down to how fast you want the greens, but really that's a poor reason to hold a grudge
against a course.
The course planning and APCD work have held up very nicely in this creation, with perhaps only a few texture oddities being a flaw.
But I'd be surprised if anyone doesn't think much of this.
||An excellent 'storyline' course which shows genuine progression and imagination.
The designer's finest work.
|This course is available as a FREE download.
Please support Links Corner