Caitlyn and I have been dabbling on-and-off with golfing in Second Life. Our preferred base of operations has been the AERO golf club, simply because it is so relatively quiet (see Teeing off in Second Life for more). However, there are many places in SL where a round or two can be enjoyed. So many, in fact, that there are doubtless favourites for many who enjoy the sport – just as those coming into it for the first time might feel a little overwhelmed. Not just by the breadth of choice, but also by the prospect of trying to get around an entire 18 holes.
Of course, you can always break your round down over a couple of sessions: find a course and do the first nine, say, then come back and complete the back nine another day. Or, if that doesn’t appeal, you can always try a smaller course – such as the one at Angel Manor. Here, on the south side of Kaya Angel’s magnificent 12-region estate centred on his stunning manor house, can be found a delightful 6- hole course which can serve as an excellent introduction to SL golf.
Set within Angel Manor Park, the course covers just over half a region, and can be played using most golf systems. Two systems are provided at the tee for the first hole: Fa Nyak’s basic system of club and HUD (provided free and works for about a day), and the CrowleyCorp Elite golf system. The latter can be purchased outright from the vendor boards, or “rented” for L$10 per 16 hours (real-time).
Fa Nayak’s system is more than adequate for more casual golf play in SL: everything is HUD-driven, with three basic clubs provided: driver, wedge and putter. The CrowleyCorp system is more sophisticated: HUD-driven again, it provides a set of 12 clubs: driver, 3 woods (1, 3, 5), five irons (5-9), a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, and a putter. In addition, the HUD provides options for adjusting the club size for a better fit with different height avatars, a range of camera options, a built-in power meter, a spinner for adjusting backspin on the ball, and an animation suite (tee-up, walk to ball, drop ball, holster / unholster club from bag, if used).
Which of the two systems you play with is a matter of choice: Fa’s is the simpler of the two, and avoids the need to have to worry about fiddle-farting with options and settings – useful if you are just starting out. The CrowleyCorp system offers a more “realistic” approach to play, although with respect to the Angel Manor course, it probably really doesn’t come into its own, the holes all being relatively short par 2 or par 3 affairs with few obstacles which have to be worked around.
Both systems also offer the same basic play: select your club – such as the driver (which will also tee you up) – then checking the particle wind indicator and noting the ball’s direction of flight as indicated by the arrow marker overlaying your ball. The LEFT / RIGHT cursor keys can be used to adjust the latter, and to compensate for winds cutting across the ball’s line-of-flight (headwinds and tail winds are handled through the power of your stroke).
When your shot is aligned, it is then a case of pressing and holding the LEFT mouse button and monitoring the power behind your swing. This is indicated by the power meter on the CrowleyCorp HUD, or in-world with the Fa Nayak system, which uses a hovertext indicator. Judge the amount of power to put into a swing takes practice – and be wary of holding the mouse button down too long as the power meter reaches full strength (when needed), as this can over-drive your swing and lead to unexpected results. Then, note where your ball falls, may way for your companion players, before continuing down the fairway and to the green, selecting your clubs as required by each stroke.
Given their relatively short par lengths, the six holes at Angel Manor can be completely pretty easily, avoiding a round from becoming too drawn-out. As noted the obstacles are pretty limited, but it is still possible to get into the odd spot of bother which can make things fun. But, as a gentle introduction to golf in SL, the compact size of this course makes it pretty ideal – while the choice of systems available for play gives newcomers a good feel of what to expect on other courses.
Nor is this the only fun to be had in Angel Manor Park. Sitting in the middle of this little 6-hole course is a clay pigeon shooting system. Free-to-play, this is a qualification-based game: each round comprises 40 clays, with a minimum number which must be hit each round (e.g. 10 in the first), to progress to the next round. At the same time, the frequency and number of clays released each time increases, and the angles of release can become more and more divergent.
I’ve played this type of game in SL before (in fact, a really old, and no longer functional system is buried in my boxed inventory). Some require the payment of a basic fee to play, others are free – the Angel Manor system, created by Abramelin Wolfe – is free to play. Just get a shotgun from the board and touch the trap to start a round and go to Mouselook to shoot (left-click). My one minor niggle with this system is the gun has unlimited ammo: hitting the clays is a matter of blasting away as fast as possible, rather than making shots count in the knowledge you have to “reload” every 2 shots. But – it’s still fun to play.
So, if you’re looking for a gentle introduction to SL golf located within a eye-catching environment (and one of the grid’s most famous and stunning destinations) – and which offers something “extra” in the way of fun (blasting clays out of the sky), Angel Manor park could be just the ticket. And don’t forget – there is the manor and its public grounds awaiting exploration as well!