New Girl In Town: Driving a Few Balls
This week I decided to take on golf. I’m living in Florida; golf is a big deal here and at home. I figured it was time to learn.
The University of North Florida operates a state of the art facility at the corner of JTB and Kernan Blvd named the Hayt Golf Learning Center. The GolfPlex, as it is called, features a “driving range, short game and putting greens, and four full size golf holes,” according to thegolfplex.com.
To me, of course, the above meant nothing.
See, the most I know about golf is how many holes Tiger sunk his ball into-and I don’t mean on the green.
I turned into the GolfPlex and immediately noticed a problem. There is limited parking. However, I was able to snag one of the three remaining spots and remove my clubs from the trunk of my car.
The clubs were salvaged from my family’s garage prior to my departure to Florida. They had been sitting in the same corner covered in bugs, dust and a variety of other garage anomalies.
The clubs were also straight from the seventies. They belonged to my granddad in his prime before my dad borrowed them, and somehow never managed to return them.
I pulled the three needed clubs from their dusty abode and walked with them into the GolfPlex, where I was welcomed by a friendly golfer.
He looked like a professional, which is enough to make me believe that he was. He wore a visor and a golf shirt and very politely informed me of my golfing options for the day.
I selected the bucket with 50 balls to take onto the driving range. The GolfPlex uses the Srixon range ball, the most durable ball in the business, the website said.
And so I made my way onto the driving range. Organized with tents in the back, the range consists of chairs and a stand to place your golf clubs on. While I am sure there is a more technical name for it, I am still not golf savvy.
A rope marked the line to stand in front of before trying to tee off. I failed to bring any tees or grab any from the friendly professional golf player, so I was forced to use the grass.
I set my clubs and bucket down and then observed the lay of the land. Across the next 200 yards spread yellow golf balls everywhere. From ten feet in front of me, to the smallest speck on the ground from being so far away, a field of golf balls sat waiting to be retrieved.
A man on a golf cart with a fiberglass windshield drove around with a vacuum kind of instrument sucking up the balls throughout the range.
Markers scattered across the range marked the 100, 125, 150, 175 and 200 yards that the more practiced golfers achieved.
I smacked it as best I could and it landed five feet away. Clearly my years as a putt-putt champion had not paid off.
Frustrated, I picked up the driver. Bending both my arms (following some instruction) and trying to swing my hips to follow through, I swung and I missed the ball.
I tried again. And again. And many times again until I finally chucked the ball towards the left and into other golfers way.
I went through this ordeal about 45 more times before I was out of balls and patience.
I did have fun though. I watched and learned from others who took pity on the girl in flip-flops trying to hit the ball. I got a little mud in my face as I watched the golfer next to me, a seasoned pro, swing and send the ball flying until I could no longer see it.
So I returned my bucket and collected my clubs. It was a lot of fun to see how practicing golf can be done and I'll definitely be returning to the GolfPlex to further polish my game.