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Access Software’s ‘Links’ Shoots a Hole in One

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Access Software’s “Links” is an astounding game that faithfully and realistically re-creates play on actual golf courses. There’s not a bogie in the program.

“Links” is set at the famous Torrey Pines club in San Diego County, a world-class course that is best known for the PGA Tour’s Shearson Lehman Hutton Open. One new course update--Bountiful Municipal in Utah--has already been released, and the programmers promise more to come.

You may play “Links” by yourself or with other friends. You select your clubs and level of expertise, and the computer, like a great caddie, remembers them. Advanced players may adjust their stance, address and grip. You are represented by an animated golfer, whom you control with your mouse.

But the most remarkable achievement of “Links” is the graphics. They are a far cry from what computer nerds are calling “virtual reality,” but the versatility and quality of the pictures beat just about anything this side of a Stealth fighter’s cockpit.

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The memory-gorging program (VGA graphics are required) is capable of producing a 360-degree golfer’s eye view of the course from any spot along the way. There is also an overhead view of the entire course, and two instant-replay views of every shot.

We’re not talking about photographic realism, nor does the program exactly re-create every tree, bush, sand trap and vista of the courses. But the game does accurately portray the bucolic feel of any well-designed golf course, as well as the layouts of the real courses.

We’re not golfers, but we found “Links” fascinating. We played it with some golfing friends, and they found it addicting.


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