When winter has New England in a frosty headlock, what's a normally active person who doesn't want to risk blowing out a knee on the slopes to do? Choice 1: Hunker down on the couch with a box of Cheez-Its, and curse the cold on Facebook. Choice 2: Toss your clubs in the car, and go hit golf balls in the snow.
You're Intrigued, Right?
Is there really a place to practice your swing outdoors even when New England weather is at its worst? Yes! And no, you won't be miserable and eager to quit after just a few minutes. And you won't have to worry about finding your little white ball after it makes a satisfying slushy plop into a pile of snow.
At Stanley Golf Course in New Britain, Connecticut, 10 enclosed, HEATED, lighted driving range bays make it comfortable to hit golf balls in any weather. Rain? Sleet? Snow? No problem. Just swipe your credit card at the automatic ball dispenser, choose a small, medium or large bucket of golf balls ($6, $9 or $12 as of 2015), and find a vacant spot (there are also nine outdoor tees). Look on the wall for the heater control box, dial your desired amount of time, then give the overhead heater about two minutes to start cranking out some BTUs.
Before you know it, you'll be shaking your bulky coat off and showing Mother Nature you don't need cheesy snack crackers to muscle through winter.
My dad has fostered my daughter's love of golf, and one morning during her February school vacation, I had a "Eureka!" moment. When I told her we were going golfing, she thought I was joking. But she played along and helped me load her pink clubs in the car. I figured one medium-sized bucket of balls would be plenty. I was wrong! She hit the ball solidly and was so encouraged by the kind praises from the golfer next to us, we bought a second bucket of balls and had a memorable golf outing on the grayest of days.
Make a Day Trip out of Your Drive to New Britain
Stanley Golf Course has its own Whinstone Tavern on-site, and New Britain is known for its Polish and German restaurants: Try Staropolska or, if you're feeling rowdy, East Side. My daughter and I wanted to try something new, so we headed to Seoul Korean BBQ & Sushi, which is just a two-minute drive from the golf course at 593 Hartford Road in New Britain. The hearty, flavorful meal we shared gave the winter chills another boot.
My inquisitive little girl asked again as she devoured her Bulgogi Beef: "Mommy, how do they find all of those golf balls in the snow?" I was happy we'd forgotten to ask the on-site attendant. Some things... like when winter will finally subside to spring... are meant to remain a mystery.
If You're Going
The driving range at Stanley Golf Course is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays during the off-season, except when weather conditions are extreme (and it would be silly to be on the roads). The facility is located at 245 Hartford Road in New Britain, CT, just minutes off I-84.