Game Review: Hole In One (Commodore 64, MAD)

Hole in One, Commodore 64, MAD, MADC4
  • 4/10
    Score - 4/10


Hole In One is ambitious with its 3D perspective from where the ball lands, and a challenging eighteen-hole course.  However, the slowness of drawing the perspective, the lack of visual aids for distance and especially timing the swing means that it is more hit and hope instead of hitting it in the hole, with patience eventually reaping rewards if you persist.  As a result, it is below par when compared to other golf games, especially World Class Leaderboard.

User Review
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I must admit that I did not like the original release of Leaderboard as much as some.  Yes, it was playable and the system for playing a shot was excellent.  But it lacked realism in terms of no trees and no bunkers, and hitting over repeated islands of water made it more of an arcade style game than a realistic golf simulation.  That was thankfully fixed with the Executive Edition and ultimately World Class Leaderboard, which I adored, but before then, Hole in One was released.  I remember purchasing the game and seeing bunkers, trees and water on the screen shots at least offered some more realistic courses, or so I hoped at the time of purchase.  Would this be it?

At The Clubhouse

First impressions upon loading are favourable: the title screen is drawn graphically with the club house and the final green in the foreground.  There is also a bland but okay piece of title music playing, as well as the option to have a one or two player game as well as practice, which allows you to play one hole to work out your best strategy for play.  It would have been nice to have a driving range or putting green to practice on, but I suppose it gives you an idea of the hole and to get used to the controls before taking the full eighteen holes.  The instructions provide you with a map of the course so you can work out how it is all laid out, so that is a positive.


You tee off on the first hole, and the golfer with his bag of clubs appears on screen once the perspective is drawn.  In a brave move, Phase Two had a 3D system which draws the graphics based on your course position, which can be often slow and is calculated.  In fact, they later used it for the adventure game Treasure Island, also released by Mastertronic.  The golfer then stands by the golf bag, and you choose the club with up and down.  Once selected, the golfer, who is not so well animated or drawn, walks to where the ball is.  The display shows the hole number, the distance, par, and the wind speed and direction which should help you with your aim.

You can now use left and right to direct the arrow to where you would like to hit, and after pressing fire, you can commence the swing: down for the backswing, and when at the required backswing, pause, then press up to swing forwards and hit the ball.  The instructions do mention that the delay between the backswing and forward swing determines whether you hook or slice the ball, and it does take some practice to get the timing right and hit straight.  What would have helped enormously here would be a swing meter of some sorts, so you could time the forward swing and know you would hit the ball straight.  The way the ball flies is somewhat odd too, somehow being a bit of a zig zag in parts rather than appearing to be a smooth movement.

Straight Down the Middle

Often you will hook or slice the ball off to the rough, and if you hit straight, you are on the fairway.  The second shot can be hit or miss – in that you have no idea of distance and what club to pay based on the distance remaining.  That can get frustrating without some form of guidance.  Perhaps options to have some of the aids on or off would have been useful.  Also, it is worth noting that the position of your ball is always drawn, even if this is either out of bounds or in the water, resulting in the penalty stroke and going back to where you teed off, which can slow down the game and is unnecessary.  It would have been much more useful to work this out beforehand.

Due to the way the perspective is drawn, it is hard to work out just how far down the fairway or close to the screen you are unless you are on the next shot.  Thankfully, the high numbered irons do loft in the air with the ball direction, although this can still appear to not always be the direction you wanted to hit the ball.  If you are in a bunker, the sand wedge is automatically selected for you as you aim to hit out back on to the fairway or close to the green.

Putt The Kettle On

Eventually, with often more luck the judgement, you will hit the green and the perspective changes when close to the hole with a view of the hole in 3D and an overhead view of the ball, hole, the arrow for direction and the tilt of the green which will affect the ball direction.  The swing is the same as other shots, and once hit, the ball will head towards the hole, sometimes appearing to veer in a different direction before making its way into the hole.

At this point, there is one of three little jingles that play, which you cannot skip.  These are either a happier tune if under par for the hole, a contented tune for level par, and a sad one for over par.  This is quite nice on first play but it can get tiresome with repeated plays, so again an option to turn that off would have helped.  The overhead view of the hole is nice but to also have the tilt shown with more graphics would have been nice, just to try and help with the shot somewhat.

See You at the Nineteenth

In two player mode, the game at least becomes an even contest as you both try to hit around the eighteen holes, avoiding going in the water or going out of bounds – the latter especially true if you go off to the left on the ninth hole.  After the eighteenth hole it is back to the title screen and clubhouse with your total score and par.  I have got round in a level par 72 when playing this and it was a game I would play with some of the family and they often did well, with practice, scoring in the 70s and being close to or sometimes under par.   Perseverance, especially learning the timing of the swing, did reap rewards eventually but also plenty would have given up well before halfway round.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that there was some ambition in programming Hole in One – the attempt to have a perspective based on the ball position drawn with the trees, bunkers and water was noticeable.  It is a shame that often some of these are not so well drawn, meaning it visually appears less than it should.  The sound effects are minimal with a thwack of the swing sounding okay, and the jingles at the end of each hole are nice enough.  However, the killer blow here is that the gameplay does not quite cut it – often hitting in random directions or not being able to make out just where it best to hit.  That and the lack of some visual aids just means it ends up being a dull and frustrating experience, and could have been a lot better had more care gone into the game.

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