Fingertip for Golf and Fingertip for STATS (Starcore, $129 and $99, respectively). These aren't really games, but they are two compelling reasons to purchase an Apple Newton. The Newton is Apple's "personal digital assistant," a handheld computer that relies on a stylus for input rather than a keyboard. The Fingertip programs are special sports software designed exclusively for the Newton.
Fingertip for Golf is a golf scoring program that's meant to be taken to a golf course and used in place of a scorecard. At the end of a round, the program lets you know not only your score but also such stats as putts per round, total penalty strokes and the number of times you use a particular club. Over several rounds, it will calculate your handicap and reveal playing tendencies. It's even programmed with more than 100 common golfing wagers, so it can keep track of your bets. No, it won't cheat for you.
Fingertip for STATS is an electronic baseball scorecard that you can take to the ballpark and use to score a game. It also gives you instant access to a full array of player and team statistics. Using the Newton's built-in modem, you can download daily box scores, team standings, schedules, injury reports and just about everything but Tommy Lasorda's pasta recipes.
Complete NBA Basketball ( Microsoft, $49.95). Last year Microsoft released Complete Baseball, the essential building block in any sports fan's CD-ROM library. Now comes the next piece. Complete NBA Basketball uses the same excellent interface as its predecessor, giving you stats on every player and team in history, detailed profiles and articles written by NBA staffers or taken from The New York Times, video highlights, audio clips of famous play-by-play calls and a daily on-line update. If Dr. James Naismith could only see how far his peach basket and soccer ball have come....
The IntelliPlay Sports Line (Intellimedia Sports, $34.95 to $59.95). One of the great promises of multimedia software is its potential as an instructional tool. CD-ROMs make videos as accessible as books; if you're having trouble with your lag putting, a multimedia golf program will immediately let you see an appropriate lesson. Traditional videotapes must be watched in the usual fashion or scanned clumsily for the right material.
Intellimedia Sports has developed an excellent line of multimedia instructional titles that allow you to receive in-depth lessons from some of the top names in several sports. Learn from Tom Kite how to lower your golf score, have Tracy Austin improve your tennis game or listen to Ozzie Smith talk about baseball fundamentals. There are also soccer, beach-volleyball and aerobics titles, and in the works are basketball and fly-fishing programs.
Mayo Clinic Sports Health and Fitness (IVI Publishing, $59.95). This fitness guide, prepared by the Mayo Clinic in collaboration with ESPN, offers articles and videos on anatomy, nutrition, injuries and equipment. But what makes this program unique is its "personal trainer" component. Start the disc, and ESPN's Jimmy Roberts questions you about your lifestyle and health goals. He guides you through a "physical exam," after which the program generates a personalized exercise regimen and tracks your progress daily. It's not exactly like having fitness guerrilla Susan Powter screaming in your ear, but it's a start.
The Playboy Interview ( IBM Multimedia Publishing, $59.95). Not a sports title per se, this CD-ROM is a compilation of all 352 "Playboy interviews" the magazine published from 1962 to '92. Still, the CD merits space on a sports fan's hard drive because of the 30 or so sports subjects it includes. The disc offers only a small amount of video footage and a sampling of audio clips, but the interviews themselves will engross you for hours. Two highlights are Alex Haley's 1964 interview with Cassius Clay, and the astounding irony of O.J. Simpson's words: "I never really thought about being a husband. That's hard for a free spirit like me."