Faldo tees off. It's a nice drive, straight up the fairway. Pity about the crosswind: it's blown him a little to the right, veering towards the light rough at the fairway's edge. No problem for a pro though, I tee off to follow the master and it looks equally promising. Then my slice kicks in and I end up in a bunker on the second hole to the right. In computer golf, you can make the graphics more clearly defined, more colourful or more convincing.
You can add sound that stretches the imagination until the player can close his eyes and be on the course. You can add wind and weather, effects of slope and gradient, length of grass and angle of club face until the ball reacts just like it would on the course.
Taking this all a step further, you could take a camera out for digitising graphics and a microphone out for sampled sound. But in the end there's one part of golf that no game has managed to capture to date. No matter how long a golf game is in development, no matter who the company pay for the privilege of printing their face and name on the box and no matter how wonderful the audio and visual effects are, the missing element is skill.
With computer golf, you pick up the joystick or mouse, go out onto the graphically superb course with the miracle grass that's always the right length, and play out of your skin every time.
Within a degree or two, you're always aiming in the right place, you're always hitting the ball, it always travels as far as you thought it should and (at the press of a button) you can check on just how far that will be according to your selected club. You always know how far the hole is from you too.
Challenge Golf is without a doubt one of the best golf games yet to grace on the Amiga. You may tee off with one to four players at any one of three skill levels. The skill levels affect the power of the wind only, so budding Faldos get veritable tornados. Be honest and the worst you'll get is a slight breeze. You can play with mouse or joystick: I found the mouse to be the better option. As with all computer golf games, there is a pause between holes while the data for the new hole is loaded in and processed. Before each hole begins you are treated to an overhead view of its map in excellent colourful and detailed graphics.
Then there is a pause - something in the region of twenty seconds - while the view from the tee is processed and drawn. This is annoying to say the least. Thankfully the pause between shots is not nearly so long. It's mostly standard stuff. You get the view of the hole, dominating the screen, and boxes for various options. A large red arrow demonstrates the direction of aim for the current shot. The computer selects a club (often a dodgy selection which you could probably better) and this is displayed at the top centre of the screen.
You can re-select using the option box at the left of the screen. This calls up another box showing which club you've selected and how far its range is. When you're happy with the line of aim and your club selection (having taken the wind into consideration) you can begin your shot.
Press fire or click on the golfer. A power bar appears and a line begins to run up it. Click on the bar when you have the level of power required for the shot. There's a red zone at the end of the bar which represents an overpowered shot. If you leave your power selection too late and it falls in the red zone, represented by brackets on the snap bar.
This zone is your margin of error; it's wider for high clubs like a nine iron and lower for drivers. It's also narrowed by an overpowered shot. The shot, once completed, winds its merry way off into the green pastures Once you've landed in yet another set of bushes you are treated to an action replay on the overhead map. This is nice for a couple of shots but then becomes annoying. An option to turn it off should have been included. Putting is a matter of setting the direction of the putt and the power: this is viewed from above and takes a little practice to master.