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Software Review of:
Golf Digest Places to Play
Travel Planner

 

Susan Ives is the one carrying around the clipboard labeled "sign the petition here - save our aquifer!" She is a past president of Alamo PC.

From the June, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

You say greens. I think Caesar salad. Golf is not my sport. But over the past few months golf specifically the proposed PGA village has been very much on my mind. When Larry offered me DeLorme's Golf Digest Places to Play Travel Planner I snapped it up, hoping it would give me some insight into why people would be willing to jeopardize our sole water source to knock a little white ball around.

For the price under $10 this is a remarkably robust program, featuring 16,000 courses throughout the US with extensive course information, detailed street-level maps and software to track your game. It is being marketed to golfers who travel for business or pleasure and want to squeeze in a round or two between the PowerPoint presentations or visits to the grandkids. It would be perfect for the snowbird RV-ers who hang around San Antonio all summer.

I clicked on the GOLF tab and queried the program to find courses within 25 miles of Port St. Lucie, Florida, the site of PGA's other village. It found 61 of them. I clicked on the South Course, and this is what I got. A map (I can scroll around and change the zoom using the controls in the upper right corner of the screen) and a detailed description of the course. Six thousand of the courses have information at this detail level; the other 10,000 just have bare-bones data. If the course has a Web site or e-mail address and I am on a computer connected to the Internet, I can direct connect to either one.

The program has many sophisticated features. If I was driving from Philadelphia to West Palm Beach, for example, I could request a list of all the golf courses within a specified number of miles of my route. There are 901 of them within 25 miles of the thousand-mile journey down I-95, so I might want to narrow this down. I can specify that I only want public or municipal courses (228 of them), or those with a greens fee less than $15 for 18 holes (116 courses), or a course without hills, or a course that permits metal spikes. I might only be interested in courses that have senior discounts  (151 do) or ones designed by Arnold Palmer (nine of them are.) 

The directions are door-to door. I tried mapping a route from my house to the Quarry Golf Course in Alamo Heights, and it was right on target. In addition to displaying the map it can provide turn-by-turn driving instructions and direct me to restaurants in the area. The map has underlying data (zip codes, latitude and longitude, mileage, road types), available with a mouse click. Maps can be saved, printed, connected to a GPS if you have one and even downloaded onto a Palm or CE device using Delorme's free Solis map viewing program. 

I don't have a GPS so I couldn't test that feature, but Delorme is a leader in GPS and I assume it works just fine. The map downloaded to my Palm 505 was a disappointment, but what do you expect on a 2" screen? I suppose that if I wanted to save a map from my hotel room to a golf course, this might get me from here to there. You can only use one handheld map at a time.

I found a couple of minor glitches. When I asked to a list of attractions around San Antonio, it included San Antonio Bay near Port Aransas and Lake San Antonio outside College Station. The button that supposedly connects you to the Delorme site for software updates took me to a dead link. There's supposed to be an Internet link to Delorme's gazeteer that will add current weather, road construction and events to you map, but although the program was madly downloading kilobytes of data I couldn't get any of it to show up on my screen. All in all though, it does what it says it will do and does it well.

Because the program comes on two CDs, it is awkward to use if you're crossing between east and west; the dividing line is between Texas and Louisiana. To draw a map from San Antonio to New Orleans, for example, you need to zoom out to an outer zoom level and use the point and click start and finish tools to draw a rough city-to city map. It's functional, but not as elegant as the trip planning in Delorme's  Street Atlas USA.

There's also a little add-on program, the Intelligolf Scorecard, version 4.1 for the PC.  This is a specialized database program that keeps track of every round of golf you and your friends play, generates dozens of statistics and will even format the stats as a Web page. I was a bit put off when I feared that I would have to key in more than 100 bits of data about every golf course, but discovered I could freely download the course data from www.intelligolf.com. From their Web site, I gather that Intelligolf is really pushing their products for Palms and Windows CE  handheld devices, but they still support this desktop edition, now in version 6. You can upgrade the free program that comes bundled with the Delorme mapping program for $19.95; full product price is $29.95. If I were a golfer these are exactly the kind of statistics I would want to keep it was a nice bonus. 

If you are a golfer, The Golf Digest Places to Play Travel Planner is a must-have program. And I can only hope that if people realize that there are 42 golf courses listed within a 25 mile radius of downtown San Antonio we might decide that we don't need one more over the aquifer. 

The program is a bargain at $9.95, considering that one round at the Ft. Sam Houston Course will set you back $27 and 18 holes at the Quarry close to $100. I suspect Delorme has marked it down; the Golf Digest Web site lists it at $19.95. You can buy it online from DeLorme or from local software vendors. If you have trouble finding it, call Delorme sales at 800/561-5105 or write to them at Two DeLorme Drive, P.O. Box 298, Yarmouth, ME 04096.

It comes on two CDs one for each half of the US and requires Win 95 or above, at least a 150 MHz processor and 32 MB of RAM. You can also use some of the features with a Palm or Windows CE handheld, and if you have a Global Positioning System you can link it up to the GPS via a laptop computer. The package Larry slipped to me is dated 2000, which seems to be the only version. There's no manual just a beefed up CD insert but the help file and tutorials are excellent and you don't want to haul a manual around on the road anyway.
 


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