Winter just didn’t seem to want to let go this year.
Not everyone in the golf world was complaining.
“Mother Nature’s been very good to us,” Ken Reynolds said.
Reynolds owns EverGreens Indoor Golf Center in Lake George, which has had an excellent season of business since last October.
Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean that your only option to hit balls is to fly to Myrtle Beach.
VARIETY OF SPOTS
There are several spots in the Capital Region where golfers can hit a bucket of balls on a heated driving range or on an indoor simulator, including EverGreens, which has been open for four years and features five hitting bays that use the popular AboutGolf simulators.
Either way, there’s no excuse for golfers to let their swing deteriorate and their game get rusty during the winter months.
Northway Golf Center in Clifton Park and Western Turnpike Golf Course in Guilderland have heated outdoor stations on their driving ranges.
Owner Scott Hoffman said Northway Golf Center’s 10 heated bays are usually full if the weather is warmer than 30 degrees, and if it’s 40, you might have to wait to hit.
Indoor options, besides EverGreens, include Oak Ridge Golf in Schenectady and Golf Galaxy in Crossgates Common, which are frequently used for instruction, swing analysis and club fitting.
EverGreens is one of the few venues that offers a competitive setting, as well. The facility holds league play all winter, and with a simulator library of over 35 courses and nine driving ranges, golfers can play a round in any format — skins, scramble, foursomes.
They charge a flat rate of $26 per hour per station, and it takes a foursome about four hours to play 18 holes, Reynolds said.
The system monitors not just the ball, but the golfer, to give an accurate shot simulation.
“It’s extremely accurate, it’s unfortunately accurate,” Reynolds said with a chuckle. “It watches everything your body, the ball and the club are doing, how the club comes in, how the ball takes off.”
Some golfers don’t like to hit on the range because they believe it will introduce flaws in their swing.
Reynolds said he hasn’t seen evidence of that at EverGreens.
“You could take a poll when people leave here and ask them, is your game a train wreck?” he said. “The worst thing we’ve heard is it’s as good as it was when they came.
“The nice thing is you can spend a half-
hour on the driving range, then maybe play the seventh at Pebble Beach, which is a par-3, so you can work on something, then try to apply it to a hole.
“It takes about four hours for a foursome, but four hours goes quick, depending on the difficulty of the course, things like that. But beginners and advanced players can play together, and you could all be playing Pebble Beach, and it’s not like you’re spending 10 minutes looking for somebody’s ball.”
If you’re just hitting balls for a short period of time, Hoffman recommends that golfers stretch and warm up first, especially if you’ve been pretty dormant athletically during the cold months.
“I would recommend starting with short irons and working your way up and gradually loosening up your muscles,” Hoffman said. “The driver is the club that you’re going to swing the most aggressively, plus it’s longer, so it’s harder to find the sweet spot right away.
“You see a lot of people, the first thing they do is pull the driver out, and as a result, they’re hitting it poorly and even breaking the club at the hosel. The third thing I would say is, as you get warmed up, pick a target on the range instead of arbitrarily flailing at it. Then you can get a better indication of what’s wrong with your swing.”
Besides the heated hitting bays, Northway Golf Center also has two climate-controlled studio stations in the back of the shop with a motorized rollup door that open out to the driving range. These stations are equipped with a digital camera and launch monitor for swing analysis.
“You get to see the whole ball flight,” Hoffman said. “That’s what the whole game is about. That’s the essence of club fitting and instruction. If you’re hitting into a mat, you’re spinning your wheels.”