Tuesday, January 04, 2011

All Hail Ken McHale!

With the announcement today that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 will, at long last, include Augusta National, I thought it worthwhile to hop into the wayback machine to salute a previous version of Augusta National that was without peer.

In long ago times, Tiger Woods included a course architect, a powerful tool that let users create their own golf courses, which could then be uploaded and shared with everyone. It was one of the best features of the game, because the courses were, on occasion, better than the courses EA supplied, and the architect encouraged the development of a community to support the game and extend its useful life.

Some of these user-designed courses were fictional, but many were faithful re-creations of existing courses, and one, in particular, was legendary: Augusta National by Ken McHale. It was a spectacular and exhilarating piece of work.

For many years, there were hundreds of additional courses to download if you purchased a Tiger Woods game, and all of them were free. Course architects were an important part of PC golf games--in particular, PGA Championship Golf 2000 had unbelievable user support (and was also the first game to perfect mouseswing, which revolutionized the genre).

Sadly, EA killed the course architect over time. They waited longer and longer to release it each year, removed features, and eventually stopped releasing it at all. So long, user community.

Sorry--sidebar. The point of this post was to salute the apex predator of course creators, Mr. Ken McHale. He has been responsible for many virtual three putts in the lovely confines of Augusta National.

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