Almost as many people hate watching golf on television as hate snooker, but nearly every- one has dabbled on the greens at one time or another - and all of us have made complete fools of our- selves when the ball dribbles off towards the right for approximately four feet. It looks dead simple - just bash the ball as hard as you can towards the green - but you usually end up digging up most of the fairway when you miss the ball completely. lt's all a little bit simpler with Microprose Golf.
Golf attempts to be the ultimate simulator. There are 11 sorts of game, ranging from Skins (where you play each hole for money) and Tournament (the standard 18, 36 or 72 hole game) to Threeball and Head-to-Head. Some of these are only accessible to players with no handicap, so just as in real life you need to win plenty of tournaments before you can play against the pros. Up to four people can play, including eight ranked computer opponents with customisable playing styles - if you're awful at putting for instance, you can make your opponent even worse.
Instead of showing you the ball and the green and expecting you to get the one on to the other by any means possible, the game gives you the option of changing every fine detail to polish up your shot. If you think the default club isn't suitable, change it. Tee heights and even the way you stand affect a shot in real golf, and the same applies here. And all the time you must allow for the wind blowing your ball off course.
The graphics certainly pass ''good'' and could almost be described as ''stunning.'' The fairways are covered with contours and show very clearly the changing ground height, particularly when the ''camera'' is following the ball across rolling hills and rivers. A Replay option enables you to view each shot from several camera angled and save the most impressive straight to a disk. Because all the courses - and the objects on them, excluding the player - are actual 3D objects, they can be viewed from any angle without needing sprites for each view, giving you some very realistic vistas.
There is, of course, a problem with this non-sprite-based approach: the objects, especially the trees, don't have all the detail they could - since they're constructed of polygons the little detail there is in the trees only appears when the ball stops moving. One other minor graphical gripe is that the golfer sprite is a little shoddy and badly animated, as if it has been added as an afterthought. The ball moves and bounces just as you would expect it to, though.
Surprisingly for a game with very little audio potential, effective samples have been used throughout - the thwack of the club meeting the ball, a splosh when you land in water and the swish of branches when you hit a tree.
VERDICT: There's very little to find fault with in Microprose Golf - so here's the very little. First, six courses seems like plenty to begin with but you soon need more. Further data disks are doubtless planned, possibly with some simulations of real courses. Second, £35 is a lot of money for a game. Unfortunately it seems increasingly to be the case that you have to pay "pre- mium'' prices for good games.
These reservations aside, Golf is a real gem. It easily takes the award for best golf sim for the ST - there's just nothing to touch it for detail, ease of use and impressive graphics. Most of all, it's fun - a feature which could easily have been lost amid the wealth of detail.
If you have even a slight passing interest in golf get this and you'll be addicted for weeks. All told, it's better than the real thing - you don't have to leave your chair for this. (There! Not a golfing pun in sight.)