Par Out Golf – the app

You indubitably know about the Major Fun award-winning game of Par Out Golf. Should you have somehow forgotten, the link will tell all. (Remind me to make a “links” pun somewhere in this review). If you’re too, shall we say, busy to click on the abovementioned, I quote myself, liberally:

Of the several skills you practice while playing Par Out Golf, a fascinating, and, to any golf player, significant challenge is learning how to visualize your shot. The more observant you are, the more capable you are at remembering the lay of the land, the more effectively you can imagine the exact amount of drive to put on the ball, the better you’ll do. This, of course, is the essence of Par Out Golf. Like “real” golf, Par Out Golf challenges both mind and body.

It’s kind of like the spiritual essence of golf, made manifest. If you are not familiar with said essence, hie thyself over to Michael Murphy’s classic Golf in the Kingdom.

If you also happen to have an iThing – iPhone, iPad, iPod – you’ve probably caught yourself wondering – what would Par Out Golf be like if it were an actual app, if it were something I could play on my very own iThing, by my very own self, or, now that I think about it, with my very own friends, i-to-i perhaps.

After all, how perfectly logical it would be for there to be such an app? A course is presented, filled with cunningly arrayed sand traps and rocks and other things to avoid. One takes one’s finger and, without touching the screen, traces and retraces the ideal route. Then one places one’s finger so it is in actual contact with the virtual ball, holds one’s finger there as the clouds cover the course into visual oblivion, and, having visualized the path, one draws said path, taking into account not only one’s memories of the terrain, but of wind direction and speed, and perhaps even choice of club, lifts one’s finger at the end of said visualized path, and beholds one’s fate graphically recapitulated as the clouds clear and the chosen path is revealed.

Accompanied, of course, by encouraging and perhaps sympathetic sounds from the invisible crowd, the soothing sounds of ocean breezes, the calls of birds, the striking of rocks, the landing in the rough, one’s stroke is made, and one’s score is entered onto the scoresheet of destiny.

No, no, of course, shall we say, no, it is not about speed or force of stroke, but rather entirely about visualization and execution of, as one is oft too tempted to say, the path.

And so on, hole by hole, until the very end of the course. And, should one have succeeded in manifesting some reasonable par-like status, one collects one’s just rewards. And should one’s rewards prove of sufficient merit, one unlocks yet another course, of even greater complexity, more tortuous paths, more entertainingly profound challenges.

All of which is to say Mike Martin and Phil Boden’s concept and Endless Wave Software‘s execution of the Par Out Golf app for your iThing reach a whole new, and delightfully playworthy level in its app manifestation. It is what any game designer would consider a masterful achievement, what any player would find a seamless transition. Not to replace the original, but to extend it into the virtual world, creating one more link between the game, the simulation and the simulation of the simulation – each link a direct link to the fabled links of golf itself, each being at least as much fun as one deserves, and, some would say, perhaps even more.

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