There are many, many activities you can try in Second Life which you may not by able to participate in or enjoy in the physical world. For me this has meant – among other things – playing the odd round of golf (a game I am not overly fond of outside of SL!).
I first tried my hand at a full 18-hole golf course in 2014, when I visited the AERO Golf Club (you can read about that visit here). As I hadn’t been golfing for a while, I suggested to Caitlyn we give it a try together. Given the last time I visited AERO was in mid-2015, it seemed natural for us to head there.
I have no idea how many golf systems are available in Second Life, but the one employed by AERO is very easy to get to grips with and enjoy. The course itself – the work of Kaja Ashland and Marcus Bremser – is very well laid-out, and was last redesigned in (I think) 2015. Visitors arrive on the east side of the region, on the front terrace of the clubhouse. A quick walk through to the back terrace will take you past the pool and to the golf shack tucked into a corner where you can pick-up your clubs, HUD and scorecard.
There are no fees for playing at AERO, but you will need to join the in-world group. When you have done so, touch the golf bag in the hut to receive your club (actually three in one), HUD and scorecard. Wear / add all three, and you are set to go! The first tee is just a short walk from the hut; a par 4, it takes you down the length of the canal which almost cuts the course in two.
Game play is a case of selecting your teeing spot between the two markers, selecting your club type from the HUD (driver, obviously when teeing-off), and then taking note of the wind speed and direction (indicated by a particle cloud which appears next to you when you select your club). The LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys can then be used to adjust the angle at which you will strike the ball (indicated by a pointer on the ground) to compensate for the wind and get your ball down towards the green. Then it is a case of making sure the cursor is over the ground and then clicking and holding the left mouse button to both commence your swing and select the force with which you hit the ball (indicated by a power bar). Releasing the mouse button completes your swing.
The flight of a ball is indicated by a line. By default, this is white, but you can use the Settings option on the HUD to select a preferred colour – handy when playing in a group. Additional strokes are played the same way, with the option of using a wedge for chipping up onto a green or getting out of a bunker, and a putter when on the green. Throughout it all your scorecard will track your shots and keep score.
The holes themselves vary in difficulty – and shorter par holes are not necessarily easier than those with a dog leg or other obstacle: the shorter par needs a steady finger on the strength of your swing or you can end up well into the rough on the far side of the hole!
The eleventh hole has a wicked shot across a bay which cuts into the course, requiring you select your teeing-off spot with care. Should your ball fall into the water at any time, the easiest thing is to remain where you are and try again.
One might argue that it would be nice to have a wider selection of clubs – particularly if you are a golfer – than just the driver, wedge and putter. But the truth is, these are more than adequate and mean that a round of golf is enjoyable without becoming taxing or complicated for the occasional / novice player.
I do have a couple of very small tips: if you use an over-the-shoulder camera view by default, you might want to centre your camera up when playing to get an more accurate view of the ground pointer. Also, if you have double-click to teleport enabled, you might want to turn it off; I carelessly mis-clicked on a putt and ended up attempting to teleport on the spot and lost a stroke.
As well as the 18 holes, AERO offers a poolside terrace and an indoor bar for socialising after a game. The cliff-sided bay I mentioned above has a small beach offering deck chairs and loungers, and there are several points around the course where you can take a break from play and enjoy a chat. You can also break-off from a round if the physical world or other requirements intrude; your card will retain your score and progress. However, the clubs are time-limited; should you return and find they have expired, simply obtain a new HUD, club and scorecard from the golf shack, and use the clubs / HUD with your “old” scorecard, and you’ll be able to finish your round.
Should you enjoy your time at AERO, do consider making a donation towards the upkeep of the course, and if you end up playing regularly there, you might want to purchase the pro scorecard – again, the fee goes towards the course.
AERO Golf Club is one of several scattered across Second Life and offers a fun way to enjoy golf in Second Life amidst gorgeous surroundings. Other clubs can be found in the Sports & Hobbies section of the Destination Guide (and doubtless elsewhere in the DG as well!).
- AERO Golf Club (Lavender, rated: General)