As the weather starts to slowly shift to spring, our attention quickly shifts to the outdoors.
For some, that might mean finding “new” ways to get out in the fresh air, and one of those ways might be to try golf.
While I absolutely encourage anyone on the fence about the sport to try it, I also offer a simple, yet often overlooked, piece of advice. One that can help you enjoy your first experience on the links.
It’s a lot harder than it looks. Sure, the ball is "just sitting there," but just try getting it to do what you want.
Instead of instantly trying to emulate the stars who grace the television screen, start with getting the ball up in the air.
This simple act can provide confidence, an underrated and often overlooked aspect of the game. It can go a long way in avoiding the frustrations that can easily keep someone from having a good time.
Par 3 golf: While the driving range is a great place to start, there’s a lesser-known tool to sharpen the craft and really prepare one for the experience of a standard course — a par 3 track.
Par 3 courses, also sometimes known as executive courses, are smaller layouts where the par on most holes is three strokes. This provides for participation in a timely fashion and was originally a favorite of businessmen trying to sneak in a little golf during their busy days.
They are great for practice with high-loft clubs, such as wedges and short irons, along with putters. They give you chance to learn the game in a relaxed setting. This led to the courses also receiving the nickname of "pitch and putts."
It’s also a bit easier to navigate the course when you don’t need a full bag of clubs.
This type of golf is even good for the experienced player — a nice way to break up the practice routine.
York County has a pair of par 3 courses that suit a number of novice needs.
York’s pair: First, there’s Little Creek, which sits along Route 116 just outside of Spring Grove. Its layout provides for a flat, open front nine, where holes range from 80 to more than 150 yards.
The back nine offers the opportunity to use a wider variety of clubs and is great for those looking to test their skills on holes closer to regulation size.
The back nine features five par 4 holes, ranging in length from 265 to 373 yards.
Another option at your disposal is Rolling Acres at 490 Windsor Road in Windsor Township. This course helps a beginner better acclimate themselves to some standard conditions of area courses.
For starters, the holes are a little tighter and the greens are smaller, so control and accuracy are learned quickly. The layout also traverses some hills, a preview of the undulations often encountered at county courses. Much like the front at Little Creek, the holes range in length from 60 to more than 100 yards.
There is also some water in play. Kreutz Creek runs through the property and there’s also a small pond players must carry on a few holes. A wooded area and a field that is out of bounds must also be navigated.
But don’t be discouraged by finding a few hazards. Instead, they make for great live practice and a chance to test out new-found rules knowledge.
After all, learning and knowing how to interpret the rules of the game is another overlooked aspect that can make the overall golfing experience more enjoyable.
Both courses also provide a chance for learning the finer points of golf etiquette. If one accidentally walks in another’s putting line here, the less-serious setting can provide for a friendly teaching moment, rather than a competitive confrontation.
In a setting stripped of social pressures, one can also become more comfortable with the idea of allowing faster, more experienced players to play through.
A cheaper option: Another reason these courses are great for practice is the price. You can get all the same enjoyment of playing the game without the hefty price tag of the “big” courses.
Little Creek is currently priced under its winter rates, with fees at $12 for nine holes and $20 for 18. The rate for seniors aged 62 or older, as well as veterans, is $9 for nine holes and $16 for all 18. Discounted rates are available for Jackson Township residents, too.
Prices are expected to go up $2 once the regular operating season begins. Discounted rates are fixed.
The course is currently operating on limited, weather-contingent hours until its expected season starts after Easter weekend. Players are encouraged to call ahead at (717) 916-4900 to check on availability.
Also, should the clubhouse not be "open" the course always is. Little Creek features a drop box where golfers can pay their after-hours fees via the honor system.
Rolling Acres charges a rate of $10 for unlimited play that day. Discounted rates are $8 for players over 55 and $6 for those 12 and under.
Upon a visit Wednesday, the concession shop was closed. However, a drop box was available for play on the honor system. Calls placed to the listed number to confirm operation and season start date went unanswered.
— Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org