The Links at Ballylecum Castle
by Jon Weinrieb
|Links Corner Course Database ID Number - 1612
LINKS CORNER REVIEW
|This is Jon's third course released to date, I'm sure you will of heard of his last one; Quidnet Golf Club which was received very well, gaining a Links Corner recommended award and also the prestigious Players Choice Award, The Links at Ballylecum Castle has also received the Links Corner Recommended and Players Choice awards, so I am looking forward to this one.
The Players Point Of View
The course itself when judged against most other courses is comparatively short, playing at just over 7000 yards, so first thoughts might be that this is going to be an easy course. I assure you it is not. This is a course that really has to be learned and you will not learn it by playing only a couple of rounds. You can get some wicked lies if you are not careful, sometimes the safe approach is the best bet, sometimes it is not. There are so many choices of club and how hard you hit the ball they are almost immeasurable, A different approach to the course can be taken each time it is played and will give many different results, you really have to mix things up here to shoot low.
Everything you see around the course will make you wonder, the superbly made pot bunkers (which have a very unique look to the blend between sand and sod wall), the meandering fairways which can be quite tight in places, the little changes in texture along the fairways making parts look worn and dry, the rings around the bunkers that really give them that extra realism, the worn look to parts of the tee areas, the divots on the par three tee boxes again in worn grass that blends beautifully into the greener parts of the tees, the greens which have been made with great care and attention to detail, you will need learn these too. Being on the wrong side of the flag can cause nightmares but get it right and you will be rewarded, there are subtle and not so subtle undulations everywhere around the course and some fairly big elevation changes can be found here and there, do you club up, club down, play the flop, play the chip or put from the fringe. This is thinking man's golf taken to the limit.
The scenery is stunning, different grasses, bushes, flowers, heather, gorse, you name it have all been blended together to give a realism that is unsurpassed, the look of the ocean in a multitude of blues to the breakers crashing against the granite like rocks; which by the way upon close inspection even have algae growing on them are so well done you might need to put on your waterproofs when you are close just in case you get wet.
There are also many custom built 3D buildings around the course, I didn't get the little group of houses in the middle of the course, they looked a bit out of place, but there is a superb castle that can be seen from many holes, the eighth and tenth giving the best views. Take a look inside the castle and you will be surprised, there are steps leading up to the ramparts, a well, and winches with ropes attached to the draw bridge all made from the terrain, why the designer put them inside the castle where most people will never see them I'm not sure but one thing I am sure of is you will never see a finer castle even if you pay to visit one in real life. Talk about going the extra mile.
I am not sure how to describe the panorama it does not fit the course as most panoramas do, it is so well made that it is actually part of the course and gives the player the feeling of vast open expanses that seem to go on forever this is realism beyond belief, even if the course didn't play well it is worth downloading just to stand in awe of the beautiful scenery. The course does however play extremely well with a good mixture of long, short and medium par 4s one of which is drivable albeit a dangerous drive over the sea, a cracking set of Par 3s that vary in elevation, difficulty and length and a superb variety of Par 5s one of which is a true par five playing at 590 yards and another that is very difficult but not impossible to reach in 2. there is a fantastic mixture of doglegs, shots over the ocean or skirting it, blind shots and simple shots that you find out were not as simple as you first thought very quickly, there are rocks placed in some of the fairways giving the player problems and choices, everything about this course screams true artistry, I am sure you will find things that you don't like but I do not think you will be able find anything wrong with Ballylecum Castle. This is only the designer's third release, it seems to me that quality rather than quantity is the aim here.
You will not find a more playable and enjoyable course anywhere, and even if you do have a bad round at least you can say that you have just played one of the most visually stunning courses around.
The Designers Point Of View.
This will probably be the shortest designer's view I will ever write.
I honestly can not find a single thing wrong with the design, there are blends everywhere and not just along and around the edges of things, all have a mastery to them that makes the transitions so lifelike it is untrue.
The cart paths have a light worn texture along the edge leading you from dirt to worn grass to rough, extremely time consuming but the effect it gives has been well worth the effort. There seems to be a custom alpha where the sand meets the sod wall in the bunkers it is very realistic and very unusual. Custom textures abound, they don't fit well; they fit... period, a superb choice. The 3d work is some of the best I have seen, every texture is mapped to perfection. The splash screens look like photographs of a real course and again are extremely well done and very atmospheric.
Every hump and bump has been placed with great consideration to the playability of the course, in fact everything the designer has done from the layout of the holes right up until the last clump of grass was planted seems to have been done with an attention to detail that defies belief.
The hole previews are very artistic and give the player a very good idea of what to expect, they even give the player tips on how to score low.
If I did have to pick one thing out, and it is a pet hate of mine; the streams have been extruded and a stone wall texture has been added to the extrusion, if the designer spent so much time adding the worn edge to the cart paths it's hard for me to believe with all the incredible detail he has put into the course he did not add a top to the wall, unless of course the intent was to make the grass look like it was growing over the top of the wall. I still think the walls would have looked better with a top though.
The course contains a cameo, 2 splash screens, crowds, tournament objects, custom flag, handicaps, custom 3d objects, custom 2d objects, one of the best panoramas you will ever see and hole previews; virtually everything.
At just over 84 meg this is a considerably sized download. Is it worth it? Definitely yes. I cannot recommend Ballylecum Castle enough, you really do need this one on your hard drive because if you don't have it you are missing out on one of the best golfing experiences around.
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, links course.
As impossible as it sounds, Ballylecum Castle is an almost perfect cross
between Royal Troon and Pebble Beach. Set along a deserted and
ramshackle Irish coastline, it features some of the best scenery and sound
effects seen on an APCD course. The moorland is brilliantly laid out and
the course urges you round, aiming for the next birdie, assisted by some
brilliant coastline holes, and the inspiring and beautiful sight of the castle
Wow. You can feel the ocean lap the shores, and the rough is almost as well planted as Kew Gardens. I doubt there has ever been a
course of any sort where so much attention has been paid to the non-golfing areas. Not that the in-play areas don't look fantastic too:
textures are well chosen and the pot-bunkers are rough and authentic. It's a superb-looking course all round.
With a lack of playing alternatives, small greens and some infuriatingly easy-to-hit hazards, it would be easy to believe that Ballylecum
is no fun at all. Surprisingly, and thankfully, this isn't true. The hole design is superb and, although you're turfed off the fairway more
often than not, you're so keen to play the course that a par score will result. It's not always a satisfying round of golf, and can be
downright awful under strong wind, but what could have been disastrous turns out unexpectedly good.
Ballylecum borders on the tough side of fair. With seemingly unhittable fairways, a lurking ocean, and deep pot bunkers, dropped shots
seem almost inevitable. But the greens and their surrounds are surprisingly accessible, and the most common score at Ballylecum is
'just scraped a par again'. It'll push you, but at the end of the day, it needn't punish you.
Simply immaculate. Any designer who can design the haunting castle, and blend the textures so skilfully is certainly worth his salt. The
elevation work keeps the course testing, and the planting is out of this world. All the perfect ingredients for a good-looking, greatplaying
||Quite simply one of the best Links courses out there. A brilliant creation which
offers a testing but spectacular round of golf.
|This course is available as a FREE download.
Please support Links Corner