Summer brings out players of all skill levels
By Colin Anderson
It’s the great unconquerable game that we both love and despise. A slight twist in the hips, movement of the head or proximity to the ball and your shot might be heading for the woods, the drink, or the beach. Still, when you line everything up just right, strike the ball cleanly and smash a perfect drive down the fairway, or watch your approach shot land softly just feet from the pin, there really is no feeling like a great golf shot. Whether you’re a weekend duffer, retiree playing with friends, scratch player, or just getting started with the game, every round of golf is a challenge.
With the most stable weather of the year, summer is when the courses see, by far, the most visitors. The weekend warriors come out of hibernation, typically cruising in a power cart and taking down several nerve-calming beverages throughout their round. The final tally isn’t always what’s important to these golfers, rather the camaraderie amongst friends after a long week of work, coupled with enjoying a great Northwest day outdoors having fun instead of tackling yard work.
Still, others seek the serenity of a quiet round just after sunrise. In the calm of the early morning, the crack of a tee shot seems to linger longer, and getting in a quick 9 before most have even started their day gives a great sense of pride to early risers.
No matter your skill set and the experience you hope to achieve, you are very likely sitting just a short drive from a course that can provide what you are looking for. If it has been some time since you last swung a club or if you are new to the game, there are a few things on the to-do list that will help ‘get you in the swing of things’ for prime summer rounds.
Anyone who has kept an eye on the PGA Tour over the past 20 years has seen a pretty dramatic shift in player appearance. Gone are most of the rail skinny and overly husky players, and most pro players today take their fitness seriously. Even if making a tour isn’t your ultimate goal, treating golf like an athletic event will almost certainly help improve your game. While it’s tempting to pull up to the course, practice a few puts then head to the #1 tee box and swing full speed, a proper warmup is key to setting yourself up for success.
Stretch out your entire body. Roll your neck and shoulders, and take time to stretch hip flexors, quads and calves. If you have time to hit the driving range before your round, remember to start with wedges and low irons, work your way up to the middle irons, and take just a few shots with the woods and driver.
Between rounds, a day or two of yoga or stretching sessions is immensely beneficial for flexibility. Simple bodyweight movements like push-ups, crunches, squats and lunges will help balance all the muscles utilized in your golf swing. For those who want to get serious, there are many personal trainers out there who can design a routine specific to golfers.
Once you are on the course, know your skill level and choose the proper tee box. If you aren’t a low handicap, don’t hit from the Championship tee box. While you don’t want to feel rushed, pace of play is important to everyone having fun. If your ball goes out of bounds, spend just a minute or two searching for it and, if it can’t be found quickly, take a drop and move on. If the group behind you is moving quicker, stop at the next tee box and let them play through.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take advice from an expert. Sometimes the smallest of adjustments can make a world of difference. Trained PGA professionals at almost every course can recognize flaws in your swing, which, when corrected, will help you hit straighter, longer, and lower your score.
It’s a wonderful time of year to be outside, and for many, 18 holes is the best way to spend it. Remember to be conscious of those around you, and also relax and enjoy the game. You’re there to have fun, right?
A Couple Courses to Try:
Meadow Park Golf Course
This is a course that truly caters to every level of golfer. Here you will find a wonderfully manicured 18-hole championship course that has been a fixture in Tacoma for 100 years. There are five different tee boxes available, as well as the Williams 9-hole course in which only three of the holes are longer than 200 yards; a perfect place for new and intermediate golfers. William’s also hosts footgolf, where players strike a soccer ball with their feet and aim to get it in a slightly larger cup. Finally, Meadow Park is equipped with a heated and LED-lit driving range bay, as well as several that have Toptracer technology—the same ball tracers you see in TV broadcasts. You can compete against friends, relax on couches and order food and drinks to these bays.
The home of the 2015 US-Open is a bucket-list course for golfers across the country. Links-style courses feature rolling terrain, a natural open layout with few trees, and a rough area of natural grasses. You’ll get all this plus amazing seaside views of the Puget Sound throughout your round. It is truly rare to find a public course that so beautifully mimics the links found in Scotland, the birthplace of the game. Tee times are available up to 90 days out and vary greatly based upon season, time and day of the week. There are discounted rates for locals as well.