I Confess: Below par: Watching the birdie: Trevor Griffiths reveals his obsession with computer golf

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The Independent Culture
I have never been inside a golf club and I suspect it's too late now. I do play the PGA Golf game on my computer, though - it's not in any sense a team game, but it's clearly based on judgement and technique, which appeals to me.

What's exciting about the computer game is that it so uncannily imitates the actual circumstances of golf. The visuals are extraordinary. On screen is a fully realised course from every knowable position. When you hit the ball, you get a reverse angle shot. When it lands, you automatically see where it lands. You could land in a divot, a bunker, water, a swale. Just like the real thing.

You have to choose which club to use, how much power to use. There's even an instant replay facility so you can see what you've done wrong. You get the wind factor, the gradient, while the leaderboard feeds you information on how the others on the course are doing, if you're in tournament mode as opposed to practice.

The computer itself - it's an IBM-compatible 486 SX - is a recent acquisition (as is my passion for computer games). As a writer I've resisted it. I do all my writing in long hand with a fountain pen. It's just part of my process. It's important for me to have the hand on the page, to scratch things out. It's difficult to kick it if it works. And I've no keyboard skills to speak of.

Why not play the actual game for the social experience? Well, there's something about being a writer that leads you to appropriate a particular field of experience through examining it, analysing it, dismantling it.

I've intellectually shadowed the computer revolution over the years. I'm enormously interested in the computerisation of work, how the computer affects the map of the mind. It's an exciting thought - on your desk now is the sort of capacity of computer that 30 years ago put man on the moon.

Still, I hear people of my generation and there's a reluctance, this fear of ruining the computer. Either there's a complete lack of confidence or the complete opposite: a feeling of cultural superiority to something considered over- facile; or worse, a dangerous Luddite tendency. If the intelligentsia is out of synch with the dominant technology, they'll simply not know what questions to ask.

So playing the PGA golf game is where I'm at at the moment. I'll probably never be as confident as the youngest kid on his Amiga, but the PGA golf game is teaching me more about computers than I thought I was able to learn in such a short time.

Now I'm able boot up some expanded memory to take the Kasparov Gambit chess game and install a Sound-Blaster. Six months ago that would have had me in a funk - I would have been sending for the engineers.

And in just three months my handicap has gone from 82 to 75.

Trevor Griffiths was confessing to John Lyttle

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