When I got done remaking the first hole on the venerable St. Andrews golf links, it resembled an awful-looking city course that I used to hack up as a kid, with fairways more like rough, brown spots everywhere and a patchy putting surface.

I’m not sure why I defiled such a legendary beauty, just like I’m not sure why golfers would like this new feature in the latest Tiger Woods golf game. It’s called Tiger Proofing, and it lets you alter courses right down to the color of the grass.

Real golf courses toughen up when the pros come to town, especially when the long-driving Tiger is in tow. But in "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005" you can go nuts. You can add undulation, slim the fairways, grow the rough, even change the weather.

You can, thankfully, ignore this feature. And I admit that many gamers might find Tiger Proofing attractive. You can use the new function to design your dream course and invite the PGA tour in for a test spin.

No, thanks. I’m happy with the challenges set down by all the course architectural greats before me. Add a 5-foot-deep pot bunker near the green? No way; I want a Mulligan.

The good news is the new game also complies there – sort of. There’s a new putting feature called Tiger Vision (translation: cheat function) that basically ensures you’ll sink a putt from whatever distance. Like a Mulligan, you get only a few of these per round. For me, the handicap was enough to nab many victories.

There are many more changes in "Tiger Woods," including eight new licensed links like the Monument Course at Troon North. And for the first time, Xbox players finally can go online. Oddly, though, you can’t play a foursome, only head-to-head.

It also includes a small group of legendary golfers like Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, so you can have that fantasy matchup between Tiger and Jack.

They’ve added a ridiculous number of options to the create-a-player feature to help fashion your golfer to your mirror image – right down to freckles and age spots.

The announcers could use some similar attention. This is probably the best golf game out there, but the guys in the game are annoying enough to make me dock it a notch.

Veteran players will be able to pick up and plunge in with no problem, as the vast majority of the controls remain the same.

You can now change your stance, moving the ball up or back to add or decrease loft. Given the number of obstacles that Tiger Proofing might add, this is something you and I should probably master.

© 2004, Detroit Free Press. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.