Golf in Gaming


(Image: Dave_D/Flickr)

If you’d love to play at Bethpage Black–the legendary public course and site of this year’s U.S. Open–here’s your chance.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, qualifying for the “Virtual U.S. Open” begins online today, thanks to the World Golf Tour. Incredible HD images of Bethpage have been compiled to make this virtual version of the course strikingly realistic.

Qualifying ends on June 21. The top 156 qualifiers will battle it out on June 22 for the title of “Virtual U.S. Open” champion. The winner will be the USGA’s guest at the real-life U.S. Open in 2010.

Sounds fun. I might actually tinker around with this, but I have no shot.  I simply don’t have the time to play much online gaming anymore. I’m sure there’s 156 World of Warcraft dweebs out there just waiting to make their mark on the virtual golfing world.

The tournament is free. So if you have the time, fire at the pins.

Image: Dave D/Flickr

Image: Dave D/Flickr

The virtual version, that is.  Sorry about the cheap marketing trick.

The USGA and an online golf game organization called the World Golf Tour have organized an online golf tournament at the virtual version of Bethpage Black, the site of this year’s U.S. Open.

Starting May 25, visitors to the U.S. Open’s official website can play a round on the virtual Bethpage and qualify for the “Virtual U.S. Open,” which will take place on June 22 and include 156 qualifiers. Other than a hearty dose of virtual pride, the winner will get a pass to the 2010 Open at Pebble Beach.

The World Golf Tour allows you to play online golf for free without installing any buggy,  spyware-ridden software. Pretty cool. Since Bethpage wasn’t included in last year’s Tiger Woods game (not sure about the 2010 version), this may be your only chance to play Bethpage without driving to New York.

In addition to Bethpage, virtual, playable versions of The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, Wolf Creek Golf Club, and Bali Hai Golf Club are also available on the site. The graphics look pretty freakin’ sweet.

As we move into the post-season of golf, I present to you some opinions, as well as some other duly noted random thoughts for this week.

Random Thought 1:

So is it just me or have you heard anything about this year’s Fed Ex Cup playoffs? As far as ESPN is concerned, it seems that golf failed to exist after the PGA Championship, or, more appropriately, after Tiger got hurt.

But, really, the whole system is so convoluted and screwy, it’s nearly impossible to follow in the first place. So only 125 players keep their tour cards, but 144 make the playoffs? Huh? What kind of a screwed up playoff system do we have when a guy can qualify for the “post-season” without even being guaranteed a spot on tour next season?

Of course, the field narrows down with each of the final four tournaments. But the system seems to reward the player who gets hot over the course of the last month.  No offense to Lee Janzen, he’s always been one of my favorite golfers, but he qualified at 144, on the number. How does he deserve to be on level ground with a guy like Kenny Perry or Mickelson, who have played well all season?

 Why not take the top 16 and create a match play tournament to close the year? Best golfers in the world, head-to-head. I know the PGA Tour would never do that because they would lose the thrill of the Tour Championship to close the season. We already have one match play tourney, etc. But what about when it mattered most, to claim the championship?


Image: scubaeddie32/Flickr

I think it would be golf at its finest. Imagine Tiger versus Phil, head to head, to win the Fed Ex Cup. This playoff system is nonsense, and it’s some jumbled crap that the Tour came up with to replicate NASCAR, and you know it sucks if they are copying NASCAR. 

For the record, I have two picks to win this meaningless playoff. Let’s go with Steve Stricker, a favorite here at Game Under Repair. We like his last name. It reminds us of when we almost use the F word. Then there’s the perennial underdog favorite here at Game Under Repair, everyone’s champion, the one and only Corey Pavin. You may think he’s too old, too short, too cleanly shaven, but you, my friend, are wrong. Watch out for the 4 wood. Watch out for the 4 wood.

Moving on…

Random Thought #2: There’s a great story in the August Golf Magazine about touring pro, Arjun Atwal. After the media drilled the guy for months, and charges were levied against him for vehicular homicide in an the alleged street racing death of John Park in Orlando, the Orlando Police eventually dropped the case in March. 

Both men were allegedly going at high speeds down a road in Orlando when Park lost control and swerved off the road, losing his life not long after the accident. Atwal lost control as well, but managed to control the car to a safe stop.

What’s striking about his story is that just ten minutes before this street racing incident, he was playing with Tiger Woods and John Cook at their home course in Windemere, Florida, just outside Orlando. I remember my wife and I watching Atwal on the putting green before the Bellsouth Classic a few years back. This was just hours before his final round 64, which put him in a playoff with five other guys, including Phil Mickelson. He was something like the 20th alternate for the tournament before the week begun, and because of the rain-shortened event, he was able to sneak in. He opened with 77 before firing 67-64 to close. Impressive.

Alan Bastable does a nice job of setting up the story, and we get a clear picture that Atwal feels the charges were unjust, but we never really hear Atwal explain why said charges were unjust. He admits to going over 55 mph with the other driver. They both went off the road at different times. Why the high speed? Cops said he was going 80+ with Park, on a road known for street racing.

I wish Bastable would have delved into this a little deeper. I think the writer either failed in explaining this, or Atwal never explained himself, which still deserved some clarification on Bastable’s part.

Great article. But, in the end, I’m left to discern the truth between Atwal’s version of the truth and the witnesses’ version of the truth. Who to believe? 

Random Thought #3: Some say Tiger is Jesus. Well, EA Sports would agree.

The company sponsored a contest last year, the purpose of which was to make a commercial for Tiger Woods ’09. The winning commercial would be featured by the company in their marketing efforts for this year’s game, to be released next Tuesday August 26th (Expect a game review soon.)

So here is your winner. Small explanation for non-Tiger Woods players–there is a bug in the 2008 game where Tiger can, apparently, hit a ball off water, presumably walking on water to get there. That’s all that needs to be said. Watch for yourself.