History of Links

Part 2: Links: The Challenge of Golf

Released in 1990, Links: The Challenge of Golf blew away the competition. This trendsetting title pushed the limits of home computer technology with the latest in video and sound!
The use of VGA graphics and incredible ball physics brought about a new standard of realism that we still see today. The Links team built a true golfing simulator that stood apart from other golf games of the time. Photographed trees and clubhouses, recorded sounds, and digitized golfer animations made it seem as though you were actually on the course.
Of course with realism came a price. You needed a pretty hefty machine to be able to play the game. At the time a 286 IBM PC was fairly common. You could play Links on a 286, but it was very slow. A speedy 386 (12mhz) or faster was the computer you wanted to have.
Links was the first version to use the now well-known C-style swing gauge and aiming marker. I remember trying to get used to that click-hold-release-click action. It was strange at first but became natural after only a few tries.
Up to 8 players could compete against each other in this version of Links. Players could choose from three levels of gameplay - beginner, amateur, or pro. You could also choose which clubs you wanted in your bag and which tees you wanted to play from.
Torrey Pines was the first course created for Links, and was released with the game. However, there was a special offer in the box to get the Design Team's home course, Bountiful Golf Club, for only $9.95. That was $15 off the suggested retail price. You can get about 5-10 courses for that suggested price today! Other courses came soon after. Bay Hill, Firestone, Pinehurst, and more were released over the months following the release of Links: The Challenge of Golf.
Links: The Challenge of Golf became the standard that other games strived for. However, it wasn't until 1992 that a new version of Links was released. Links 386 Pro caused a stir in the gaming industry that I remember all too well. That's the focus in the next segment of the History of Links, Part 3: Links 386 Pro.
For even more history on Links and Access Software, take a look at these clips from the "On the Links" newsletter published the summer of 1991.
Special thanks to Radim Ponert for the use of his Links: The Challenge of Golf screen shots!

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