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How 'computer golf' let committed players tee off year-round

These golfers were going to be able to play their favourite game, no matter what the weather.

In 1988, CBC's Midday showed viewers how a virtual version of the game worked

By 1988, technology had provided a way to go golfing, no matter what the weather was outside. 1:49

These golfers were going to be able to play their favourite game, no matter what the weather.

And that meant something in St. John's, where inclement weather could be a serious nuisance — even halfway through the spring.

That's just part of the reason why "computer golf" was emerging as an appealing alternative more than three decades ago.

"For them, it's a sport that has all the joy and agony of the real thing," reporter Jonathan Crowe told viewers, in a report that aired on CBC's Midday in May of 1988.

No need to take a break from competition

Harvey Spurrell and his friends brought their golf clubs along for a TV story about computer golf in 1988, but no actual clubs were needed to play the virtual version of the game. (Midday/CBC Archives)

In this basement-hosted version of the game, there was no need for golf clubs. Instead, players used joysticks to tee off, hit shots from the virtual fairways and putt on the on-screen greens.

Harvey Spurrell explained that computer golf helped him and his friends extend their season year-round.

"We have a regular foursome that get together every Sunday during the summer months," he explained. 

"And as soon as the boys saw [the computer version], of course, we had to get together during the winter."

Attention paid to virtual details

Among the game's virtual elements was a leaderboard that Harvey Schuller and his friends could see their names displayed on. (Midday/CBC Archives)

Crowe explained the features of the game that allowed players to simulate the real thing.

"A leader board keeps track of the store, judging club selection and wind speed is done with the help of on-screen display," he said, describing the kinds of details that are common in sports-related video games today.