By Stefan Gestwicki
Star Contributing Writer
Most of Chautauqua County got its first official snow of the winter. With that fact comes the likely end of the golf season. Excuse me while I wipe away this single tear that’s falling down my cheek.
Personally, I had an awesome season. I played a good amount. I hit the ball pretty well. I had a ton of fun. I’m legitimately sad to see the season come to an end.
It did get me thinking, however. What can a golf addict such as myself do this winter to scratch that itch? So here are some ideas for things to do this before March (hopefully) to keep those golf juices flowing.
GO ON VACATION
It seems obvious, but not everywhere in this great country of ours has winters like we do. A few years ago, I only went as far South as North Carolina and I was able to play golf in February. I’ve never been to Florida, but I envision it being a virtual glut of retirement communities and golf courses. Or head West, young man. I’ve seen pictures of some courses in New Mexico, Arizona, etc. and they’re simply breathtaking. This might not be the cheapest way to scratch that golf itch, but you have to admit that it sounds like fun. And hey, you can always take the kids along and turn it into a full-fledged family vacation.
GET A PUTTING MAT
From one extreme to the other, a simple putting mat won’t exactly put all of your skills to the test, but you’ll still get that satisfaction of sinking some putts. Here’s a word of advice if this is something you’re going to look into: you get what you pay for. I believe I won mine at a tournament and it’s…not great. It’s impossible to ever get it to lay perfectly flat. Putting over the bumps of the perma-folds in the green isn’t exactly the experience I’m looking for. That leads me to another trick, though. Be sure you have somewhere to make sure you can leave it set up. Folding it up and putting in the box isn’t going to do the product’s integrity any favors.
HEAD TO THE GOLF DOME
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve never actually been to the Paddock Chevrolet Golf Dome in Tonawanda, but I have to tell you, it looks amazing. Hit real golf balls. Try clubs. Use simulators. Play miniature golf. Eat amazing food. This place truly seems to have it all for golf lovers. I know there are other places in Western New York that offer golf simulators, too. Find one close to you and check it out.
When I first started golfing, I spent more time on YouTube than I did on the course. I had to fix my slice. I had to add distance to my irons. I had to learn how to chip. I had to learn how to hit the hybrid. Luckily, there are helpful videos by a plethora of professionals to help us out. No matter how good you think you are at the game, I guarantee you can find a video on YouTube that could help improve. Honestly, I need to take my own advice on this one. It’s been too long since I really tried to improve off the course.
Yes, we all love golf, but there actually are alternatives out there. There are several indoor basketball leagues in our area that could speak to your competitive spirit. Bowling is always an option, too. We’re blessed with some great alleys where you could go for a league night or just to bowl a few games with friends. Want a game that’s just as much mental as it is physical (a la golf)? Try billiards. I know there are leagues around for that, too. If you’re like me, it’ll just be keeping yourself busy until golf season comes back, but you never know, one of these sports might really hook you, too.
Next week, unless the weather miraculously changes, I’ll take a look at this season by the numbers.
Until then, golf is great. Go get some.