Monday, January 27, 2014

Dark Thoughts, vol X: Cold comfort

In normal circumstances the practice range is somewhere I go only when I feel it's truly necessary, like if I'm trying to make some sort of revolutionary swing change, have to re-learn to hit a ball and need the repetition. Not a fun, recreation activity. Some people might enjoy it; to me the driving range has about as much to do with actual golf as a drive-thru carwash does to actual driving.

It'd been about a week since I last putted out on an 18th hole. Measured in days, it shouldn't seem that long. It's a normal layoff. Doesn't matter. With so much of the world now encased in ice and set upon by Arctic temperatures, golf feels like something out of a past era.

Finally the obvious occurred to me. Why not just go to the range, bash some balls? Let it out. Rev up some more good swings like you'd been doing before the deep freeze set in. Bang some drivers out into the back net, you'll feel better.

Heaters overhead provide slight warmth.

I hadn't set foot here since prior to playing the Brooklyn Open back in October. Looking back, I guess I had righted the swing enough to where I started to feel good out on the course, and after that put enough winter golf on my plate that I pretty much forgot this place existed.

Even with the free heat, it still can get mighty cold out here, exposed on the bank of the Hudson river and all. It was kind of hard to feel the arms, the hands, the clubface. But I made some nice hits into the wind. Experimented a little with ball position, worked a little on this and that. 8-iron, 5-iron, 1-wood. It felt good, whacking stuff in the face, or trying at least.

Shot of the day was the one ball I attempted driver off the deck. I can only recall ever hitting one good ball like this; today I hit the second. It drilled into the back (200 yards) net on a rope, with some height.

About halfway into it a guy arrived and set up a few stalls over, struttin his stuff, his Rocketballz and what not. Insecure of course, spying what I'm doing and everything. I could feel it, the 'tude was palpable. But whatevs. In between clubs I went and sat and watched him hit a couple. Pffft. Somehow it relieved me when I saw that he had nothing. Now look who's the insecure one. That's right--me.

Back in the parking garage on the practice green I corralled nine range balls, settled in for a fairly long bout of a sort of OCD-inspired chipping game that's popular amongst myself. Take an odd number of balls, such as nine. Chipping to the farthest hole across the green, try to get the majority of the balls--five in this case--up and in, then repeat it from the opposite end. Get at least five balls up and down in both directions, there and back and that's a "win". I must not leave the premises without having "won" at least once.

This is quite possibly the most depressing practice green in America, yet I was glad to be here, more or less sheltered from the cold, working on my chip-and-putting, that wonderful game-within-the-game. Glad to see my chip stroke was in solid form. Hands ahead, no flip. Rapping putts with the blade of the sand-wedge like no big deal.

A good time was had long and short. If I can bring some of these shots out on to the course--whenever the golf-forsaken season finally revives itself--it's gonna be swell. I can feel it.


  1. Before I switched to ice fishing, I used to play a variant of the chipping game. Odd number of balls, must get a majority up & in. Difference is I had to win once using a sand wedge, hitting high chips a relatively short distance. Once I won, I had to do it using a lower lofted club, chipping low and running the chip across the green to a distant target.

    Talking about my distant past activities in golf seems strange now that I fish. Got to go check my tip ups.

    1. You are lucky. Fishing would be nice. If the East River froze, I'd give it a try. Instead I am trying to occupy myself by practicing new Bosu ball exercises at the gym. Sad but true.

  2. Your confidence is contagious and inspiring. I commend your respect of the game and inner fortitude to continuously improve. I am fired up!

    Temps this weekend to be near 50. Should get rid of what snow is laying around.


  3. Ahhh, the Chelsea Piers range! NOthing like standing on the tippy top tier and launching balls into the ether with a backdrop of the Jersey shore of the Hudson River...and so inexpensive! There used to be a couple of stalls with camers installled where, for a price, you could tape your swing and look at it or send a file home for the truth review later. Do those still exist? I always thought that was the a cool feature at Chelsea Piers...

    Another 6 inches of the white stuff hit us here on Cape Cod this morning. But its dry powder and any warm up whenever will certainly move it quickly. However, golf right now is experienced vicariously...

    And as for that putting "green" my kid used to love playing "bumper balls" smacking balls off of the walls..And folks would wander by after parking their car to go where ever - ice skaiting, bowling, the gym and line up to watch..For just a moment it is Winged foot, the US Open and YOU ARE PHIL or TIGER working on your putting...Hah!

    1. The taping thing might exist, but it would have to be a part of the "ACADEMY" located on the upper floor, and I don't think one is getting in and out of there without losing a bunch of money and getting contracted into some scary long-term lesson plan. For the rest of us there's a couple stalls on the third floor that are backed with full-length mirrors--the original swing analysis device.

      The penned-in putting green is definitely a zoo exhibit. Lot of boat passenger/party cruise type traffic passing by to and from the other adjacent piers, so yeah, a lot of gawking.


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