The Legitimategolf crew took off for a day of hiking and who knows what else, up in Harriman State Park up in Rockland County, inside of an hour from NYC.
After some nature hiking, followed by some more hiking at the nearby world-famous Westbury Commons outlet super-mall, I looked to see if there was a practice range in the area. I got two results--one for a conventional golf course, and one for a standalone place, listed as "Cassidy's Driving Range".
Well who wants to deal with a stuffy golf course right now, when all I want is to beat a few scuffed-up balls into a wide open space at some vague, meaningless targets. "Cassidy's Driving Range" sounded right up my alley.
The smartphone led us a couple miles down a countryish road where, sure enough a driving range did exist. I guess old Ma and Pa Cassidy must've sold the place; now it's known as the Scoring Zone Golf Range and its proprietor appears to be a younger guy, a long-drive competition guy with a real passion for bashin'.
While I think I prefer the old name, this range still has all the makings of a great little place to practice golf. Long as it's a douchebag-free zone, who cares what you call it?
Just like at a farm stand, you see a bucket you like, you hand the guy some money, you grab the bucket. Gosh darnit, when you think about it, there is no valid reason for any driving range customer to ever have to stand in front of some ball-dispenser machine like some kind of frickin' laboratory rat. Hey big city driving range owner-operators, how about we hand you the money, you hand us a bucket of balls, end of transaction? Not some piece of paper with a code number on it, not some prepaid debit card. Bucket. Of balls. Is that so much to ask? Don't answer. Of course it is.
Here I was immediately reminded of that sweet little range in Vermont. I am such a sucker for places like this. They remind me that golf at its core is about a ball, a target, and you. That's the essence. All the other stuff, the stuffy attitudes, the polo shirts, the scramble tournaments, drink-cart girls, etc... none of those are remotely essential. That's just some people's idea of culture and golf the game definitely can, should, and does exist without it.
It's probably not surprising that I had a great practice here at the Scoring Zone. A transcendent practice. No matter that I was hot and tired from an afternoon of hiking up and down big rocks (and in and out of outlet stores), no matter that I'd been feeling a little bit lost with my swing over the previous week. Out here in the quiet, woody, summery air I could stand over the ball and actually think about stuff and have it make sense. I bet that's just par for the course here at the Scoring Zone. Of course then I thought back to my golf-home, and hitting balls from a cage out over the Hudson River, and what a cluttered, distraction-filled, claustrophobic and ultimately plastic experience it is, and how I never seem to have a good practice session there.