Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Bringing back the Belmont

Guysborough County couple recreates former golf course for popular video game

  • January 6 2021
  • By Corey LeBlanc    

A couple from Guysborough County has brought the iconic Belmont Resort and Golf Course back to life, if only virtually.

Chris and Linda Avery created their version of the former nine-hole course on Ferry Rd., taking advantage of an option offered by the well-known PGA Tour 2K21 video game, which allows players to fashion a course.

“It has been more about the memories,” Chris said, when asked about the highlights of the couple’s time-consuming process.

He added they shared many “great times” at the Belmont.

“We played there almost every day as teenagers,” Chris added, noting its accessibility to everyone because the green fees were “super affordable.”

He said it wasn’t unusual for them to play 27 holes in one day, three round trips around the picturesque golf course.

“It was great – we had so much fun,” Chris added.

He reminisced about arriving at the clubhouse, where many people stored their clubs, exchanging pleasantries with other players, along with mainstays such as long-time pro Sandy MacDonald.

“It was pretty neat,” Chris said, returning to the discussion of the video game design process.

As part of the myriad options provided by PGA Tour 2K21, there is a feature that allows players to create courses or download ones that others have crafted.

When it comes to the depth of options offered to builders, Chris described it as “pretty involved,” noting – as an example – there are more than 150 species of trees that can be used.

“It is amazing,” he said.

They were even able to include touches that were unique to the Belmont, including its look-off towers, which helped players make sure the greens were clear on some holes; there were a couple where the green was not visible from the tee-box.

Chris sighed and then laughed when asked how long it took the couple to finish their video game version of the Belmont.

Noting they worked on it for a couple hours each night – tweaking their vision, including implementing suggestions from friends who also played the course that received a sneak peek at draft versions – estimated the process took 35 to 40 hours.

“But it was a lot of fun,” he said, reiterating the enjoyment they garnered from sharing fond memories with friends from across the country.

Because tackling the project looked “too big,” he noted there were a few starts and re-starts; ones that included only completing the first hole.

“I would stop but then we would get back at it,” Chris said.

With some time off before Christmas, he noted he was able to put on a final push to complete the project.

Considering the time required, he agreed video-game course design – at least at this depth – would probably be a one-off, although he continues to dabble at a much smaller scale.

“It was interesting,” Chris added, describing it as a “pretty fun experience.”

As an illustration of their attention to detail, the couple even tapped into the expertise of a geologist friend, who used live-air software to provide accurate elevations.

They put the finishing touches on their design Dec. 21, while Chris made a Facebook post – something he noted he rarely does – on the next day, informing people about their creation.

It wasn’t long before the responses started flowing in, with people sharing their memories of the Belmont.

“They were telling us how much they loved it,” Chris said.

One of the messages came from Regan Hines, the son of Guysborough Eastern Shore Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines, who is intimately familiar with the Belmont. His family owned and operated the resort and golf course.

Chris said the younger Hines noted the “realism” of the game, which includes the family home that was located on the property.

“He was pretty excited,” Chris added.

He explained that – once there Belmont version was published to the PGA Tour 2K21 server – it became available to anyone who plays the video game.

“It will be there as long as the game lives,” Chris added.

PGA Tour 2K21 has a deep Bluenose connection, with its creation taking place on the South Shore in Lunenburg – the location of HB Studios.