If you’re a golfer in Rhode Island, now you can have access to the state’s top courses – rain, shine or snow.
Golf course architect Michael Hamilton has created a way that you can play your favorite local courses on PGA Tour 2K21. So if you can’t score that membership to a country club, you get to experience the course from home.
Recently, hosts of YurView’s Main St. Living, Quincy Carr and Danielle Alvari, interviewed Michael Hamilton to learn more about the game and being a golf course designer. Watch the interview above, or take a look at the transcript below. (lightly edited for clarity)
Designing golf courses
Qunicy Carr (00:21) If you’re in New England, you’re probably ready for spring to settle in so you can actually get back out there on the golf course. But our next guest created a way that you can play your favorite golf courses, rain shine, or snow and from anywhere in the world. And get this…There are no greens fees. So welcome to the show, Michael Hamilton. How you doing, Michael?
Michael Hamilton (00:43) – I’m doing well. Thanks for having me, guys.
QC (00:45) – Great. Thank you for being here. Now, you have a degree in landscape architecture and an MBA, but you’ve always loved drawing golf courses. So tell us why you decided to start recreating the most recognizable courses in Rhode Island.
MH (00:59) – I’ve been drawing golf courses since I was a kid. And that’s just kind of a passion I’ve kept through my adult life and made into a hobby. And as technology has gotten so much better over the years, we’ve kind of been lucky in the golf course design community to have access to a program like PGA Tour 2K21, sold about 2 million copies worldwide, which is awesome. It’s you know, obviously done really well.
And back in December, once the golf season ended up here in Rhode Island, I decided to start throwing in some of the local golf courses. And after a few of them, it really got some good recognition on social media and from a bunch of my friends. And I just kind of kept deciding to go along with it. It’s really been a lot of fun.
Recreating courses in Rhode Island
Danielle Alvari (01:53) – Speaking of fun, how does it work? Do you play it like a video game?
MH (01:57) – You do, yeah. So you play it exactly like a video game. Basically, what you do is, once the course is in the game, you just go ahead and search for any of the courses that I’ve designed or anyone else has. And then you can actually go and play them. So it gives you a lot of flexibility too. It allows you to play them anytime of the day, different times of the year. And it’s just a really cool tool.
QC (02:22) – So Michael, the detail in the courses is absolutely amazing. It’s like you’re really there. Number one – How are you able to incorporate such detail? And number two – Why is it important for you and the players?
MH (02:39) – There was a member of the community that basically created this program that allows you to take Lidar, which is satellite imagery and light detection and ranging, which is actually being used now in autonomous cars and your iPhones and everything else to kind of measure distances. And what it allows it to do is it actually maps out the topography of all the golf courses.
So what makes them so accurate is, what you’re seeing is what you’d see in real life down to the centimeter from the land itself. And then just the ability to go in there and add, you know, all the things that make the golf course what it is – the trees, the bunkers, and everything else. And once that’s all in there, it really does start to look like it does in real life.
Playing PGA Tour 2K21
DA (03:34) – You mentioned that you’ve been drawing courses since you were little. But how many courses have you done with this? And how do you decide which ones you want to make virtual? Have you lost count?
MH (03:44) – Yeah, I’ve lost count. Because I do also design some stuff from scratch. In terms of the real golf courses, I think I’m at 15 right now. I started this back in January. My goal is to eventually get every Rhode Island course into the game. It’ll take probably a couple of years. But it’s something I enjoy doing. So it’s really just great to get it out there into the community.
DA (04:10) – How do you decide which ones though that you want to make?
MH (04:12) – So, it’s funny. At first, it was basically courses that I wanted to see and I wanted to play. And then as people got involved on Twitter and Instagram, I got so many requests. Still haven’t caught up to everything. And then eventually I started doing polls, allowing people to kind of choose what my next course is going to be. And it’s really interesting to see what people want to see. It’s not always what you think people would want in the game. So that’s really been fun to see.
QC (04:41) – Do you ever get any of the professional golf players that give you any feedback? And what are the players enjoying the most about the virtual courses?
MH (04:51) – I haven’t had a ton of feedback from professional golfers. I think they might be too busy to play video games, but it’s funny because you get different people who are looking for different types of golf courses. And obviously, Rhode Island is full of a ton of private golf courses. So not everyone gets an opportunity to play.
DA (05:17) – Well, they’re too expensive, right? So is there a cost for your game? Or how can people find them if they do want to play?
MH (05:23) – So you have to get the game itself – PGA Tour to 2K21. It’s available across the computer, PlayStation, Xbox, anything you can think of. And it’s out there. Usually it’s less than $50.
DA (05:40) – Cheaper than any golf course I’ve ever been to.
MH (05:42) – Definitely. And you have access to every golf course you can think of as long as someone’s creating it out there.
QC (05:46) – That’s pretty cool. Wow. thank you.
DA (05:49) – Yeah. Thank you so much for joining us. We so appreciate you coming on.
MH (05:52) – Absolutely. Thanks for having me on.
If you’re interested in playing PGA Tour 2K21, visit pgatour.2k.com.