Monday, May 5, 2014

Ghettogolf: from the practice green on Randall's Island

Greetings from practiceland. Another week gone by and still no actual golf. What gives? I'll probably discuss that soon. But til then I thought we ought to take a closer look at one of the darker, sadder forgotten corners of the golf universe, a place where I've been spending a lot of time lately--the short game practice facility at the golfer's exile on Randall's Island.

To me this "green" embodies the whole plight that is ghetto golf--perfunctory, neglected, barely hospitable to golf activity. A traffic cone sits inexplicably somewhere on the green at all times. Yet this is all--marginally--better than the alternative, which is nothing. And for that alone places like this can be an unlikely godsend to the wayward golfer in need of some quiet reflection.

This "green" is basically a thin layer of astroturf stretched half-heartedly over a cement base. There is no pretense of this thing simulating an actual golf green in any way, except for it being green in color.

If I didn't know any better I'd say it's the same surface as the half-assed putt-putt course on the other side of the batting cage:

As such, it rolls very fast. I suppose you could just pretend you're at Augusta or something. Seriously though, you can't. This "green" is too littered with rocks to act out any kind of fantasy that involves a ball rolling in a true line towards a hole. No, here it's just about practicing contact, and landing on a target.

On the bright side, the greenside rough is actual grass, and it's really rough.

And patchy. It's almost like they optimized these conditions to serve the NYC golfer, who routinely faces similar greenside lies in the course of any given round around here.

Or (more realistically), it's the simple result of general indifference and disuse. The anthills are kind of a giveaway.

I like to try and hit the traffic cone.
Whatever the case, it fills a need. For me chipping is really calming. (What in golf is more soul-soothing than a nice chip?) It helps to groove certain swing fundamentals. And I suppose it's good practice for playing the actual game of golf, which I am guessing must be in the cards for me sooner or later.


  1. Aaaah...Randall's...urban golfing paradise practice facility. I took my then four year old here to hit a bucket years ago (I lived in Brooklyn along the East River south of the Brooklyn Bridge in a neighborhood called Cobble Hill). Climbed in the car and half an hour later after navigating the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, a highway that rivals the Randall's practice facility for upkeep, we arrived so that I could teach my kid the finer points of the golf swing. He spied the putt putt course and before I had a chance to educate him on the gauche-ness of this variant of golf, we were off and putting.

    I have to tell you, the kid had a blast. And so it is to this day, now an eleven year old, I cannot convince him to accompany me to forays on a real golf course or even the driving range in my now home town on Cape Cod. But miniature golf? He's all in!

    Ruined by Randalls...

    Legit, the squirrelly lies are perfect practice fodder - Outside of Bethpage, there isn't too much in the boroughs as far as quality greenside turf goes, especially this time of year. Master shots from this sparseness (that greenside photo of anthill strewn lies look lie a botched Hair Club For Men plug job!!) and you'll let the air out of your swollen handicap pronto!

    1. Ungrateful snot. But at least he did not turn up a nose at some mini golf.

      Glad to hear a NYC refugee success story. Brooklyn sucks, all of its wonderful diverse neighborhoods and what not. People say its so great, but to me its the same old shit as the rest of the city, only more spread out and inconvenient. In any case hopefully you do not miss the city because you are not missing much.

  2. Geez. That's rather sad and pathetic.

  3. So this is how it ends. Lost in a miasma of self-doubt. Flogging balls off a carpet rather than walking the fairways. Where once we found inspiration there is only a black hole of depression.

    So sad.

    1. No need for me to bitch about any course around here after looking at THAT. It may be a "practice" facility but it won't get you ready for the B.O. Get back in the game, beef, before you explode.


  4. I can feel the soil falling over my head

    1. It's so easy to slice
      it's so easy to hook
      It takes strength to be accurate, and long...


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