Crusaders Games

Fictional Course Designs

The Arnold Palmer Course Designer allowed designers to use their own creativity to reproduce some fantastic fictional courses to play with in Links 2003. This features a top 10 list of fictional venues carefully designed that you really must have to play out of those that are available. Selections to this list are based upon the design quality, visuals and playability, alongside a requirement for a balanced list of course types.

1. Tall Pines Estates – Wayne Hewitt                     (ranked 2nd last year)

Tall Pines Estate is breathtaking in its beauty, immaculate in its attention to detail, and strategically impressive. The course is set within a US pine forest location, its best real life comparison must be the immaculately planted and well kept Augusta National course. You know that the groundsmen have done their job to perfection, as patches of coloured flowers border the fringes of the holes, or a covering of wild grass extends into the shaded pine forested areas. Smooth paths wind through the trees, benches and hole signs stand to the side of tee areas, and even the lilliepads on the lake contain pink flowers. The views across the course are often amazing as you can peek through the trees to see other fairways or natural features. Points of interest include the lovely stone bridge at the 16th, the river creek at the 14th which is a reachable par 4, and the superb custom clubhouse at the back of the 18th. The par 3’s really do shine out as beautiful set pieces and this is the most beautiful fictional course of all time.

 

2. Crystal Pines – Mike Jones                                  (ranked 3rd last year)

Crystal Pines is a fir tree forest course, backed by the snow capped mountains, and remeniscent in style of many Canadian mountain locations. The textures are a soft green and lakes are abundant around the fairways and greens. There are beautiful splashes of colour in the planting. The elevation is amongst the best ever as down the back nine as you rise up into the hills to give spectacular views. Bunkers will shield many of the approach shots, and there is the lovely clubhouse building at the back of the 8th hole. Mike Jones always likes to try something never before seen, this time it is the lakeside bunkers at the 3rd and 7th holes, and they are remarkable, complete with a wet sand texture edge. The par 3’s are all stunning with the crystal clear lakeside 2nd a signature hole. and a 160 yard 11th to a green set on a plateau which slopes away down to the left, just awesome. There are split fairways, greens wrapping around lakes and a superb view at the finishing hole. The attention to detail throughout is amazing, with even aged bare trees in key places for effect. A stunning visual treat but with great strategic course lay out too.

 

3. Burn’s Old Links – Mike Jones                             (ranked 1st last year)

Burn’s Old Links is a traditional ‘old’ style Scottish links course, moulded amongst the coastal dunes, and situated close to an old town. Its roots lie in the famous courses of St Andrews and Prestwick, and it becomes a close simulation of links golf. Features include magnificant wooden faced bunkers guarding the green, the ‘Bunning’ burn which splits the fairway at the 8th and 12th holes, and the old town in the distance. The design is awesome, the course simply flows around the landscape and hazards, with dips and valleys, dune peaks, and greens that perfectly follow the contours of the surrounding fairways and rough. The texturing was both outstanding and groundbreaking, with dry ground, worn patches, sand speckles, humps and bumps all blended seemlessly together. Planting is lower key here, formed by natural low level bushes and grasses, and looking realistic and natural, but the real beauty here is more in the rolling landscape of textures than bold colours. In lay out terms this is the closest course seen in style to St Andrews, with wide open views and many route choices to the flags, it is a course to learn and admire and i feel certainly best played without aiming using the top camera view.

 

4. Pacific Breaks – Mike Jones                               (ranked 4th last year)

Pacific Breaks is set on the US pacific coastline in the style of Pebble Beach and Cypress Point. This was yet another innovative and ground breaking design from Mike Jones, with groundbreaking coastline sea taking on the most realistic beauty ever seen at the time, complete with superb cliffside edges and white surf on the waters. Adding to this is the most amazingly realistic planting, and the designers artistic abilities should not be underestimated. You start off inland until you gimpse the sea in the distance at the back of the 5th hole, and your heart will beat faster. The 6th tee and your eyes will fill with wonder at the view over the cliffs to the par 3 green. The last few holes play as some of the hardest challenges and avoiding disaster down the cliffside stretch home from 15th will make you breathe a sigh of relief. This design pushed the boundaries of what the original apcd could achieve, visually and at times strategically there is once again little to beat this course, it is just beautiful and fantastic to play.

 

5. Las Joyas – Mike Jones                                        (ranked 13th last year)

Las Joyas is a European mediterranean course located in Spain with a manicured and lush but slightly dry feel and is known as ‘The Jewels’. This design uses the deeper woodland feel, with trees tightly enclosing the holes, and very much in play at times. The key distinguishing features are the excellent lakes and creeks, and bunkers that are surrounded by a yellowy brown bermunda grass textures which sets it apart. There are quant wooden conveniences, beautiful bridges and the amazing log clubhouse. A building site is also included backing the 12th hole complete with corrugated structures and a digger. The beautiful par 3’s are amongst the best you will see on any course. Las Joyas is a thinking man’s course, and it cannot be simply overwhelmed by power and you will really need to play clever to out-manouevre the various traps. It is a tough course, however it is not unfair, more that wayward shots can lead to compounded errors if you are not careful, so choose your route wisely. This is an exceptional European style design, certainly one of the very best in terms of quality and a real challenge to play well.

 

6. Wellington Point – Gus Green                                (ranked 8th last year)

Wellington Point is astounding in many regards, a combination of a variety of styles it is located in a sea location based on the tropical East Coast of Australia. Wellington Point visually is one of the most lovely designs I have come across, it is stunningly beautiful to look at, captivating to play, and has an amazing attention to detail everywhere. The variety within the course will continually produce unexpected views ranging across a sandy bay with stunning sea and surf, a rock cliff face complete with a guarding white lighthouse, reed covered ponds, and swampy ground, all unbelievably well done. Everything looks realistic, and is full of ingenious planning to bring out the best visual effects it can. A custom clubhouse complete with tennis courts is to be seen, and the panorama is superb. The strategy of the course can almost be overlooked as you take in the views, but this aspect also works well too, playing fairly and naturally, and it is not overly hard. A well made course with a tropical feel is still relatively rare within this game, and this course is a gem.

 

7. Shadlowlands – Mike Jones                                 (ranked 7th last year)

Shadowlands is a lake and scrubland course described as having elements of Pine Valley, Royal Melbourne and Sunningdale as its inspiration. The quality of the hole lay outs provide excellent strategy mixed with fair risk versus reward situations. The planting is realistic in its design, and the grass is thick interspersed with red, orange and white flowers for flower colour. Trees are mixed in species which work well together as a tree lined course, and shadows are enhanced to provide an excellent feature well used for effect. At ground level the dry patchy dirt areas and new worn grass textures took a step forward in designing at the time. The island 10th is a memorable hole along with the 16th set in a hollow. Strategically around the course you’ll have to overcome a tricky lakeside series around the turn. All the little additions are there with rope fences and a slate path. The 2010 HD update has a darker grass textures that lifted this course, making it look more natural and visually better and the back tees were been extended slightly. I have played this course a whole lot and i love the lakes along with the strategic variety it brings.

 

8. Cara Brae – Mike Jones                                        (ranked 9th last year)

Cara Brae is an Irish coastal links course whose name roughly translated from gaelic means ‘friendly cliffs’. It is another beautiful cliffside design which uses an amazing coastline to form dramatic hazards. Inland the course is bordered by impressive pine trees, with yellow gorse and wild grass bordering the rolling fairways. The aggressive player who is on his game will reap rich rewards as he takes huge chances off the tee threading his way in between and over the rugged, windswept bunkers, slopes and tall grasses. For the more cautious player though, guile and cunning is also rewarded with good angles and opportunities to run the ball onto the greens avoiding the deep overgrown bunkers. In many ways this course is a culmination of Mike’s skills containing the ocean views of Pacific Breaks, the wild bunkering of Rugged Dunes, and the rolling lay-out of Burn’s Old Links. The stone clubhouse perfectly fits the scene, bunkers even contain seagull footprints, and the cabbage laden field is an extremely delicate touch. Favourite holes include the par 3 5th hole elevated over the cliffs, and the superb 15th is a nice split par 5. This one may edge home as the best all round apcd course design.

 

9. Crooked Creek – Wayne Hewitt                          (ranked 6th last year)

Crooked Creek is an Australian sandbelt syle course like Melbourne set within pine forests. Its Australian feel is definately captured being, both beautiful to look at and engaging to play with winding or split fairways a feature. The course features overgrown bunker work, and large dusty sandbelt and waste ground areas, with plenty of lakes around to keep you on your toes. The pine trees look fabulous, and the planting is just about as most realistic as you will ever see. The tee views create stunning set pieces complete with small stone water dispensers, the elevations are superb and the lay out calls for thoughtful play and offers a lot of choice. A wonderful clubhouse overlooks the course perched on small hillock, and the panorama adds extra depth with a small village in the distance and a neat craggy outcrop becoming distinguishing features of the course. Two features holes are the 11th which is surrounded by sandy wasteland, and the short par 4 which is reachable off the tee over a lake. This is a stunning design and alongside Shadowlands is the best sand belt course you could choose to play. I would like a more standard desert style course on the list, but at the moment its hard not to feel that this is a better option.

 

10. Babylon Ridge – Mike Jones                            (new entry)

Babylon Ridge is a Canadian lakeside course set beneath the Rocky Mountains. This has seen a recent rise up my favourite lists, mainly as i have been re-assessing my requirement for a favourite lakeside complex course. This course design meanders around a lake series with three quarters of the holes featuring water hazards as a key component. A number of greens either wrap around a lake, or probe out into the water, adding a lot of tension to your shots. That said this course is not overly long at just over 6,500 yards, and is much more about strategic positioning to play it well. The ground level planting is lovely, with wild grasses framing the fairways and a deep rough texture if you stray too far. The farmland areas and a white manor house are spotlights around the course to help you get your bearings, and a distinguishing feature of the course it its grey panelled bulkheads which i really like. This woodland course is lovely to look around and very natural looking and is great to play as long as you stay out of the water.