The PGA Tour Replay Project 20 Years in the Making

Welcome to Links Corner, this Forum is to say Hello and have a General Chat about Golf/Links related subjects.
Post Reply
Big Sexy JC
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2022 8:10 am

The PGA Tour Replay Project 20 Years in the Making

Post by Big Sexy JC »

I'll warn everyone right away, this will probably be a VERY long post!!! Also, there is no other place on the planet that would be interested in any of what I'm about to type EXCEPT MAYBE on this forum, so here goes nothing.

Backstory

I started playing Links Golf as long ago as possible as I was playing Links: The Challenge of Golf back in the early 90s. However, I didn't really like golf and in all honesty, didn't really enjoy Links that well either. My uncle was an avid golfer and I was a PC/gaming geek so while I was visiting him we went to the local software shop near his house and bought Links to put on his PC. That was about it really.

Then, I finished college and my baseball career, got a real job and all of a sudden had time and money to spend. Coincidentally, that aligned with the beginning of Tiger Woods' career so for the first time ever, I actually noticed that golf was a sport played on more than just my uncle's PC. As Tiger had more success, my interest in golf grew and I started playing it on real courses and not just the PC.

That led to me starting to follow the PGA on TV so I could keep up with how Tiger was doing. I was a baseball, football, basketball and hockey guy so I was very familiar with teams playing out seasons, accumulating stats, having a playoff and crowning a champion. Following the standings, the stats and the teams of a 30-32 team league was easy for me and I enjoyed it. However, golf was very different and I found it awkward to follow. I didn't understand why the best players didn't play every week. I didn't understand how each tournament seemed to have a different field. I didn't understand how the PGA really crowned a champion and in all honesty thought it was all confusing and lacked excitement and build up like the other sports.

If You Want It Done Right, Do It Yourself

To give you a timeline on all of this, by this time it is very early 2000s and I'm in my mid to late 20s. Tiger is taking the golf world by storm, I'm playing golf multiple times a week and love it, but I absolutely still can't wrap my head around how the PGA Tour works. Quite frankly, the more I learned about it, the dumber I thought it was. There had to be a better way. Surely the PGA was aware of this nonsense? I knew I could come up with something more exciting and better if I were running things.

So, I did what any PC geek trying to make sense out of the PGA tour would do, I built 3 gaming PCs and installed Links on all of them. This is now around the time Links 2003 was coming out and there were a lot of courses available. So, I started tinkering with creating my own PGA golfers and modified attributes to match the golfer's abilities in real life and then built out a PGA Tour schedule using spreadsheets. I played seasons with different numbers of golfers, different numbers of tournaments, different Majors, different purses and played around with the computer golfer attributes trying to find the perfect mix for all of it.

For about 5 years (2004-2008) I replayed every season from 1995-2004-2008 seasons in all kinds of different ways trying to find the perfect solution that I felt solved the PGA Tours terrible season format. I eventually came up with what I thought was the perfect solution. Then........Life happened. I started coaching baseball in the early 2000s so that was making my hobby of "fixing" the PGA Tour a little tougher to focus much time on, but in 2008 my wife found out she was pregnant with twins. Obviously that spelled the end of my "I'm going to be the next commissioner of the PGA Tour" journey using Links Golf as the sandbox.

We All Know What Happened Next.....Right?

Those old PCs with the future of the PGA Tour on them got tucked away as I turned my focus on my baseball coaching career, being a father and my "real" job career. Life always gets in the way of all the fun right? My twins were born in Feb. of 2009 and for the next 11 years I did what most dads do. Went to football games, baseball games, hockey games, swim meets, gymnastics meets, volleyball games, started two different travel baseball organizations, and in all honesty, forgot that Links Golf on a PC even ever existed. Then in January of 2020 this thing called COVID happened, and like everyone, my life came to a screeching halt.

We had moved in late 2015, but it was the pandemic that gave my wife the opportunity to start "getting rid of stuff". Of course, she started in the closet with my old PCs and other electronic nostalgia. As I was going through it all I stumbled across the 3 PCs that I used back in the day for my "make the PGA Tour better" project. When my wife wasn't looking I snuck those bad boys into my office and fired them up. Much to my surprise, they still worked. Now at this point, I really hadn't even thought about my Links project as it had been about 12 years since I had done anything with that. BUT, as I was browsing around in Windows I stumbled upon the spreadsheets where I was keeping all of my findings from my PGA Tour season replays. I can't say all the words I used when I found those files and started looking at them, but to say I was excited to see they still existed just as I had left them over a decade ago would be an understatement.

Did I Predict That? Yes, yes I did

I spent several months going through those 3 machines and bringing them back to their glory days. These machines were loaded with games so I was like a nostalgia addict in complete overdose mode. After some of the glamour of those old games wore off I decided to circle back and fire up Links again. The old computer players still sitting on those hard drives with their real life attributes intrigued me. Do I dare try to pull this off again?

I had to refresh my memory on what all experimenting I had done previously to know where to pick up at, but after doing that I decided to use some of my old ideas on the 2009 season. There were some very important differences this time around that made this much more enjoyable all these years later. First and foremost, the readily available statistics on the PGA Tour website in 2021 vs the early 2000s was like night and day. This meant I no longer had to guess on player attributes and was able to make a more realistic representation of the PGA golfers.

So over the next several months I replayed the 2009-2013 seasons and had what I felt was a rock solid formula that finally was giving me the perfect results on my replays. What do I do next? Drumroll please!!!!!!!!! I tell my wife about all of this. She knew none of it. Not the old stuff, not the current stuff, none of it. It takes me over an hour to explain the whole story. While I'm explaining it she is searching the internet for divorce lawyers and therapists because she's convinced she's married a complete nut job. Who in the world would go to this effort to create a better PGA Tour using computer golfers and a computer golf game that nobody but me would ever know about? I want to remind everyone that I never played Links during any of these replays/simulations. These were computer golfers playing on PCs while I was busy doing other things with my life. I wasn't ACTUALLY PLAYING the game.

Here is the crazy part though. While I was explaining this all to my wife I told her that the PGA Tour should create an elite Tour with smaller fields, without cuts, with fewer rounds, more money, a points system with a playoff system that led to a match play tournament in the end to crown a champion. I was basically giving her an overview of what I had determined was the way the PGA Tour needed to run it's elite Tour in the future. It was essentially a separate tour that would run in conjunction with the bigger "normal" tour.

Now, if you are starting to think that this sounds a little like the LIV Tour you would be right. This was way before anything had ever been said about the LIV Tour. Nobody knew anything about it or knew it would eventually exist in the real world. I'll admit that what I came up with wasn't exactly what LIV is doing, but it's really damn close and it proves that I wasn't he only one that thought the PGA Tour needed some serious changes. The crazy thing is that I figured that out almost 20 years before LIV came to be.

Where Are Things Now?

In April of 2021 I started a journey that I'm currently on to re-create the history of the PGA Tour from 1980 to present using the formula that I came up with in my 2009-2013 test runs. I use the same 3 retro Windows 7 PCs and create a league of the top 24 golfers from each year (I would prefer to use 64 golfers, but I'm limited on PCs and time, but the formula would work just as well). I give each golfer life like attributes on the 6 categories that Links uses to rate computer golfers. I play 32 tourneys using real courses and an almost exact schedule from that year with 4 majors and a point system. There is an 8 man match play tourney at the end of each season to crown a champion and there is a player of the year named based on season stats. Sometimes the player of the year and the champ are the same, sometimes they aren't.

I created a hall of fame points system that grades the golfer with points over the course of their careers. I have spreadsheets with all kinds of stats on the golfers, the courses and all the pertinent season data. I'm currently in the year 2004 and am able to knock out a season in about 8-10 days. I project that I will be caught up with the current 2022 season by April.

Why Did I Post This?

Anyone that has read this far is crazy, but is also wondering why in the world I posted this on this forum at this time. There are a few reasons. First and foremost, to say thank you to all of those that created courses and player animations and anything else I've used for almost 20 years to make this project more enjoyable and realistic along the way. Second, to anyone willing to do anything even remotely close to what I've done, I'm willing to give any and all of my files to save a TON of work. This means golfer files, spreadsheets, player animation settings, etc.. Third, to beg and plead the talented people in this group to fill in some gaps with player animation files and courses. Let me preface that by saying, I will be able to get through 2022 without another course or player animation file being created, but having those of you update some of the courses and add to the player animation database would be HUGE and I would greatly appreciate it. I don't know the first thing about making a course or a player animation.

Lastly, anyone that has any interest in using Links as any type of a historical replay, I'm the guy that can help you out. I might be the only one on earth interested in doing that, but if I'm not then I'm here to help. I've tried it all at this point.

If anyone has read this and has anything they want to know about the process, the results or anything else that interests them just feel free to ask. Like I said before, this is the only place I felt like this would possibly be appreciated. Even if everyone thinks I'm completely insane, I've at least documented what I did somewhere for the world to see.
User avatar
Jimbo
Posts: 1136
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:55 am
Location: Victoria-but a Raven at heart!

Re: The PGA Tour Replay Project 20 Years in the Making

Post by Jimbo »

You remind me of me! I 'very working a project myself with Andy. That's all I'll until ! get my ÷@##=$/7€* running again I have the "techperts" trying to help- but right now I,,m getting really frustrated. Are there any "textperts" who live on Vancouv3r Island or thereabouts?
It was a lot easier when I lived in Toronto!

:wallbash:
Last edited by Jimbo on Sat Nov 26, 2022 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PinHi
Posts: 144
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:51 am

Re: The PGA Tour Replay Project 20 Years in the Making

Post by PinHi »

I learned something from all this. Keep life simple! Besides I`m too old to wonder what it`s all about. Have a good day! :tiphat: :yes:
Big Sexy JC
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2022 8:10 am

Re: The PGA Tour Replay Project 20 Years in the Making

Post by Big Sexy JC »

Was away for several days taking some vacation days from work and just getting a chance to get back to this. Was excited to see two replies, but I'm not sure I follow either.

Jimbo,

You are doing a replay similar to mine with Andy except that project is stalled due to PC having some issues? Or are you doing a different project using Links? I'd love to hear about any project using Links, but especially if anyone has tinkered with PGA Tour sims or replays.

PinHi,

I wasn't sure if your reply was to me or Jimbo. Keep life simple? Too old to wonder what it's all about? Not sure what you mean by either of those if they are replies to my original post.
User avatar
Adelade
Posts: 1099
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:24 am

Re: The PGA Tour Replay Project 20 Years in the Making

Post by Adelade »

I read the original post a few days ago, thought it was an enjoyable read. I dont think it is all that rare to have an interest in simulations themselves. I've actually done sort of similar things myself in other areas - though Ive never quite had the desire to do so with Links. I have a vague simulation of the PGA tour in Career Mode for Links, but whether it is as similar as possible to real life or not is a very low priority for me (I mostly just want it to have a good level of challenge for myself, and be immersive), and of course for me and with Links - me actively competing along with it is key. If I understood it correctly, you do it by having your AI players play rounds within Links?

Others have done other types of simulations for Links, with a varying degree of following real life as closely as possible and in different aspects. In the forum section "Links Career & Career Simulation Downloads" I believe you can find the Career Mode Seasons and Rosters which were designed to mimic the PGA Tour. Also the Excel simulations GreyBeard's Virtual Career and its spiritual successor LVT. Over on LSPN, some are running Tours/Leagues for online tournaments which attempt to follow the courses and conditions of real-life Tours. Others have made spreadsheets of in-Links player attributes corresponding to real-life PGA Tour players' stats. Perhaps none of those are what you primarily have in mind - I dont know - but I thought they could be mentioned.
Finished main APCD Projects: Amedal (own design), Nine Bridges (real course)
Other: Austin, Kauri Cliffs, Le Golf Nat. Updates: Whirlpool, Royal Lytham, Royal St George's, Chicago, Chambers Bay
Working on: 2 fictional courses + a couple things...
User avatar
Jimbo
Posts: 1136
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:55 am
Location: Victoria-but a Raven at heart!

Re: The PGA Tour Replay Project 20 Years in the Making

Post by Jimbo »

Hi Sexy: My project is different, but is something that golf fans might enjoy and our great designers might find useful.
Meanwhile I'm still trying o get the game to work on my old Windows 7. I've been getting suggestions from many in the community and I'm betting that we will prevail,,,eventually,,, in the meantime the Nitpicker is out of business. :scared:
Big Sexy JC
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2022 8:10 am

Re: The PGA Tour Replay Project 20 Years in the Making

Post by Big Sexy JC »

Well Jimbo,

I might be your guy. I have Links running beautifully on a Windows 10 laptop, 2 different Windows 7 desktops and a Windows XP Shuttle Box. I even have Links 386 floppy images that I installed for Dos Box that runs like a champ. Talk about nostalgia.

The biggest issue I found with trying to get any of the older games to work on the older OS is being able to find the drivers for the hardware. Luckily, I keep every motherboard box and driver CD that I've ever gotten so I was able to track all the drivers down. As I stated in my post, I was fortunate enough to find multiple PCs that were literally lost in time that still worked. That means old drivers for NVidia and ATI along with every patch I ever downloaded for any game I ever played.

Not sure what kind of hardware you have on that Win 7 machine, but I can upload some drivers and other files to a Google Drive share if it helps. I know with all the enjoyment this site has provided me over the years with player anis and courses, that's the least I could do. Just let me know.
User avatar
Jimbo
Posts: 1136
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:55 am
Location: Victoria-but a Raven at heart!

Re: The PGA Tour Replay Project 20 Years in the Making

Post by Jimbo »

Hi Sexy-I got it "up and Running" again and a just editing out duplicate courses.
As for my "other project" I'm still assembling it-but I think you'll find it interesting.
Post Reply