his section of my web site provides some design tips for the various golf course architects. Right now, the majority of my tips are for the Jack Nicklaus series. Below you will find a few suggestions broken out into different categories, along with links to other sites that have design tutorials. (Key: - Jack Nicklaus series, - PGA 2000, - Links, - Tiger Woods)

  • One item that is a bit confusing regarding JN6 is how the par of a hole is determined. This is handled by the number of shotpoints your hole contains. For example, a par 3 will have no shotpoints, a par 4 will have one, and a par 5 will have two. So, if you are manually routing your course, keep this in mind as you work. If you accidentally place too many or too few shotpoints, the designer allows you to both delete and add them. When using the Course Wizard, the correct number of shotpoints is automatically done for you.
  • The JN6 Course Designer will not create parallel holes automatically. It is left to the user to add them in manually. When creating parallel holes, the view of your entire course routing becomes important. First, make sure under Options that the Auto Update Course View is selected. As you make changes to your hole design, they will be automatically reflected in the Course View window. Once you have your entire course’s routing complete and in its final form, you can start adding in parallel holes. The best way I have found to do this is to copy an element, such as a fairway, from one hole and paste in onto another. Unfortunately, you will have to copy elements between holes one at a time. You will most likely need to rotate the pasted item to make sure it is going in the correct direction. Keep an eye on the Course View window to see if the parallel item matches the original hole. If everything is correctly positioned, you should not even be able to tell you have created parallel holes in the Course View window. As a result, this also means the adjacent holes are very accurate.
  • To pick up multiple terrain shapes in PGA 2000, you can hold down the [Ctrl] key and select all of the terrain shapes you want to manipulate. You can then move or rotate entire holes if you want.

  • Do not feel the need to place too many points when you are creating a terrain shape such as a fairway, bunker or green. JN6 does a very good job of rounding out the lines that connect points, and by adding too many points, you make the shape unnecessarily complex and difficult to manage. I recommend starting with a very basic shape with a few points to get you started. Then, use the Split command (Ctrl-S) to add new points on your shape to further refine it. To use the split command, you must first have your cursor between two points, which will then display a yellow line connecting them.
  • One thing to consider while dealing with terrain elements is that they are rendered even when placed outside of the hole window. So, this can come in handy if you have say a parallel hole that extends out of your hole window.
  • Fringe is a very nice addition to JN6 and you may want to consider using it elsewhere besides just around greens. I have experimented with using it around tees as well, and I think it adds a nice polished look to a hole. Double-clicking on your terrain shape allows you to re-size it. To make fringe, all you need to do is copy your green shape, change it to fringe, re-size it, and position it under your green. One note of caution about using this technique is that if a player hits their ball onto this fringe around a tee, the game will default to the putter. If you have enough custom texture slots, you can replace one of the roughs with a new fringe texture to eliminate this problem.
  • The order in which terrain’s are layered is a difficult concept to grasp at times. An easy way to figure out how each terrain relates to the other is to look at the terrain shape dialog box. The list of 16 possible terrain’s is ordered from the lowest (sandy rough) to the highest (terrain). This is the order they will lay onto one another. Finally, you must take this layering into account in certain design situations. One of these is if you want to create a patch of rough in the middle of a sand trap. Since sand terrain is always placed above rough, you must create this type of trap using separate pieces. A very good example of this technique is the large bunker along the left side of Colleton River’s 3rd hole. For this trap, the designer has broken it into three different sections.

  • An excellent tutorial on how to create very puttable greens in was sent to me by Ian Colvert. His technique works great and I recommend it to anyone having trouble creating fair greens. This file is in the RTF format: JN5PUT.ZIP (20KB)
  • Using the elevation tools is probably the hardest part of working with JN6. It is a very different concept from JNSE’s. Instead of relying solely on a numeric value for the height you wish to create, JN6 relies more heavily on the size of the selection you make. For example, if you select a large circular area and choose Bulge, you will get a pretty large hill. But, if the selection is kept small, the height of the bulge is also kept proportional. Keep this in mind as you create hills.
  • The most powerful elevation tool is easily Smooth. It can be used multiple times on the same area, refining it further and further each time. Don’t be afraid to smooth an area three of four times before you leave it. The Power Smooth feature really comes in handy here.
  • A great way to make flat, elevated tees was mentioned to me by Gene Rodriguez III. His technique involves raising the shape of the tee a few times, until it is at the elevation you wish. Next, create a terrain selection area around your tee about twice its size and choose Flatten to Highest. With that large area still selected, start smoothing. Continue to do so until you have a natural edge to the tee, but not so much as to affect the tee itself.
  • If you have downloaded a copy of JNSE Designer and would like to work on something other than a flat piece of land to create your JN6 designs, here is another idea from Gene. Create a landplot you like in JNSE and route a basic course over it. Next, convert the course to JN6. Now, you can do the actual design work in the new game, but also have some elevations to work from. You will most likely have to do some smoothing here and there, but it is generally better than starting from a flat piece of land.
  • To create a large hill you will want to use one of the Tilt tools. These tilt tools can quickly create a large hill with a realistic slope.
  • After you have shaped a sand trap, it is time to give it some depth. This is a very important aspect of design. Unless you are creating something like a waste area, just about all bunkers in real life are recessed into the ground. Select your bunker and choose Bulge Down. Then, do a couple of smooths. Continue this bulge once, smooth twice routine until you reach the desired depth. The number of bulges required will be greatly affected by the size of your sand trap. Before you leave your sand trap, you may want to do a few extra smooths for good measure.
  • Creating playable greens is one of the most challenging areas of JN6 course design. It takes practice, time, and patience. One of the main tips is to do plenty of smoothing. This will help soften breaks. Most greens are elevated to some degree, so this should probably be your starting point. Select your green shape, and choose Raise. Next, create a terrain elevation selection about 25% bigger than your green shape. Place it over your green (if it isn’t there already) and do a couple of smooths. Make sure to view the render to see how things are progressing. You can do more smooths, but try to make sure you don’t do too many where the edges of the green begin to crown. If the fairway connects with your green, you may want to do more localized smoothing there as well to create a nice transition between the two. Be careful using Bulge Up with greens, because this can create an unwanted crown in your putting surface. In contrast, Bulge Down can be very useful in create nice bowls on your greens.
  • Aside from the elevated green, you can also create an inclined putting surface. To do so, create a terrain elevation selection more than double the size of your green. Then, place it over your green shape so that the left side of the selection is covering your green. Next, choose Tilt Back. You will probably not need to do more than one of these tilts. Finally, do a good amount of smoothing to polish the area.
  • If you want to create terrace or plateau greens, a combination of the Flatten and Smooth tools make it possible. To start, create a terrain elevation selection around the area of your green you want to turn into a plateau. Next choose either Flatten to Lowest, Flatten to Middle, or Flatten to Highest. The choice between the three will be dictated by the surround elevations, and by what type of plateau you want to create. Then, expand your terrain elevation selection and do some smoothing. Now, this technique only works if you green is inclined before the terrace work begins.
  • If you are working from a flat green, you can create a terraced green by selecting an area and choosing Raise or Lower. The same smoothing techniques also apply here. Once you have completed your green, be sure to do a lot of playtesting in the game to make certain that the green accepts approach shots and putts well.
  • I believe I have found a pretty good technique to create uphill and downhill holes in JN6. It involves using the Designer’s Tilt tools. These tools, when applied, only seem to affect half of the elevation selection in the desired direction, so that is all I use to create large rises. Start out by creating a huge terrain selection that is the size of the hole window. You will probably want to expand it beyond that by moving the selection outside of the hole window and stretching it further. Next, place this terrain selection over the area you want to tilt upwards. For example, if you want to make a downhill hole, you would place the selection so that only the left half of the hole is covered. Once the selection is in place, you would press the Slope Back button to create the downhill slope. It can be reapplied until you arrive at the elevation change desired. The only thing remaining will be to flatten your tee boxes, and do some smoothing. The area that will require the most smoothing will be where the terrain selection met the base hole terrain.

  • My first suggestion is to pull down the Options menu and select Preferences. Next, turn on the Random Height selection for your objects. You can turn it on for each separate object group, but I would recommended keeping it off for the Other Objects set. The demo only allows you to set the variability to 10%, but that should be enough to give you a good variety of different sized versions of the same tree or bush. This will go a long way in making your course look more realistic. When actually placing objects, if you want to position more than one of the same item, hold down the Shift key and then choose the object. You will now be able to place as many multiple copies as you wish. Simply hit the Esc key to stop. Finally, if you find yourself needing to place a large number of objects, it is best to turn off the Auto Render feature under Options. When you want the view to redraw, simply hit the space bar. Having auto rendering off, you will find that it is possible to place objects much quicker if the computer doesn’t constantly have to re-render the view.
  • One of JN6’s lesser documented features is its ability to replace one object with another, or even change an entire type of object. To do this, start out by selecting the object you want to swap out. Next, click the right mouse button and choose Change Object Type. You can now select a replacement object from the appropriate palette. If you want to change every occurrence of one particular type of object with another, after you have chosen Change Object Type, simply hold down the Shift key and select your new item.
  • Make sure to utilize JN6’s forest mode when placing objects. To do so, hold down [Ctrl] and select up to seven object. Now, when they are placed on your hole the designer will randomly choose between what you selected. This helps to speed up the object placing process.
  • If you want to make a global change of an object throughout your PGA 2000 design, it is a pretty easy process. First, Hold down the [Ctrl] key and double-click on the object you want to change. This should select all of that type of object on the entire course. Next, right-click and choose 'Properties'. Now, click on the small thumbnail version of the object in the upper-left of the Multiple Object Properties window. You can then select the object you want to replace it with from the palette. The [Ctrl] key can also be used to select and move large groups of objects at once.

JNSE to JN5With this step-by-step guide, I am going to discuss some of the challenges that you will face in converting a JNSE design to JN6. If you never owned either JN4 or JN5, you will first need to download the following utility: SECNVRT.ZIP (11.5KB). After you've downloaded the file, simply unzip it into any folder you want, but the Jack 6 folder is probably a good choice. Now that you have SECNVRT downloaded and ready to use, let us begin:

  1. Open a DOS session window.
  2. Change to your Jack 6 directory (or wherever you have put SECNVRT on your hard disk).
  3. Enter SECNVRT and the path to the course you want to convert. For example, to convert my copy of Saguaro Canyon I would enter at the DOS prompt: SECNVRT C:\NICKLAUS\SAGUARO\SAGUARO (In this example, the first reference to Saguaro is the directory name where the second reference is to the PRC course file itself.)
  4. The utility will now create a file with a CVT extension. It is located in the directory of the JNSE course you are translating. If the operation goes well, you should see the statement “File Successfully Converted” in a DOS window. You may now close this DOS window.
  5. Start the JN6 Course Designer.
  6. Go to File, and select Import.
  7. Now, go to the directory of your JNSE course and select the CVT file.
  8. After the file is selected, JN6 will prompt you for a name and place to save the converted version. You will probably want to put it in whatever folder you use to store your course designs.
  9. JN6 will now start the true conversion process. It can take quite awhile for some designs, so except a bit of a delay.
  10. Keep in mind that each JNSE unit of elevation only equaled half-a-foot. If this was not taken into consideration in JNSE at the time the course was built, elevations may not look quite right in JN6.
  11. One of the first things you will notice in a JNSE to JN6 converted course is that you need to place all of the objects over again. This can be a long process, but well worth the effort considering the large number of objects that can be placed per hole in JN6. If you are converting someone else’s design, it would probably be best to refer to their JNSE version for where specifically objects should go. Doing a screen capture of each hole would most likely help in this matter if you are willing to go to that much trouble. The other problem relating to objects is matching the right objects to the right course. My best advice is to look at the JNSE course and do your best to pick trees that look similar in JN6.
  12. The elevations of your translated JNSE design will most likely need some work. In general, I have found that hills can convert rather harshly between the two programs. This is especially noticeable around greens. You will probably want to spend a good amount of time smoothing out terrain to make the course more playable in JN6.
  13. The conversion feature leaves your course’s terrain items (fairways, greens, bunkers, etc.) comprised of many points. To make reshaping them easier, you may want to consider eliminating some of these points. This is accomplished by highlighting the point you want to delete with your mouse (it will turn yellow when selected) and then pressing [Ctrl] and [D].

That’s it. You should now be well underway in translating your original JNSE course to the new world of JN6. I hope you find this process enjoyable and rewarding. Best of luck, and please let me know if you have specific questions about anything mentioned or not mentioned here.