Hickory Ridge Golf Club’s dense tree lines create tunnels of narrow fairways intersected by a meandering creek that comes into play on at least nine of the course's 18 holes. Players immediately find themselves myriad obstacles on the first hole, a 509-yard par 5 with a lateral hazard running the length of the left side and an elevated green with an out-of-bounds area summoning errant shots beyond the pin. After the initial hole, birdie opportunities abound on the front nine so long as players control their shots off the tee, make wise club selections on approaches to the green, and avoid penalty strokes for chop blocking unsuspecting caddies.
More difficult challenges await on the back nine, including tricky par 4s on holes 12 and 14 and long par 3s on holes 15 and 17. Before finishing the round, golfers must conquer the par 4 18th hole, which requires a long layup on the second shot and often sends unfocused golfers on their way with a bogey and a Kick Me sign as they complete the round.
Course at a Glance:
Partnered with a ground crew predominately made up of fellow pilots, Dick Guisto, Mike Florio, and Vinnie Melling harness their commercial-pilot expertise for each Aerostat Promotions flight. After a half-hour of balloon inflation and preparation, up to four guests join their pilot at sunrise or 2.5 hours before sunset for an hour-long flight that affords aerial views of the Pioneer Valley’s breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and residential homes. Meanwhile, a chase team tracks the balloon from terra firma as it traverses approximately 10 miles of sky. Once visitors and their pilot rendezvous with the team, balloons are packed into a truck or twisted into to-scale elephant balloon animals before the group shares a champagne toast and appetizers.
Spanning more than 30 acres of scenic pasture on conservation land, Sycamore Stables offers horseback riding lessons for students of all skill levels. The highly trained and friendly staff of Sycamore Stables teaches hunter, jumper, and equitation riding and training. Equestrian novice and bronco-busting veterans alike can enjoy some horsetime with private lessons—each one-hour private lesson is packed with personalized, hands-on instruction for improving human-horse relations. Riding lessons allow people to connect with a majestic, intelligent animal, take part in three millennia of equestrianism, and appear much, much taller on a first date. Equine tutelage is offered in Sycamore Stable’s state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor riding arenas, allowing for year-round horseback access.
When autumn arrives, Rolling Acres opens its gates to visitors young and old to enjoy adventures among its various attractions. Birthday parties, field trips, and family outings descend upon the farm throughout the fall to explore the corn maze, which, in the past, has sent groups zigzagging through labyrinths shaped like an elephant, a lion, and a castle. Outside the maize maze, putters earn holes in one or 12 on the mini-golf course, and nearby, jumpers launch skyward on a giant jumping pillow. Aside from manufacturing smiles, Rolling Acres also produces and distributes alternative-fuel products.
The two screens of Tower Theaters host an eclectic cast of characters, from the flying superheroes of summer blockbusters to elaborately costumed opera singers. And 3-D technology propels many of them toward the audience with the vivid clarity of digital projection. The dancers and singers appear as part of a monthly opera and ballet series, which showcases stage productions such as Caravaggio or Die Fledermaus in digital HD. But on the first Saturday of every month, film and live performance combine with midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, during which a shadow cast poses in front of the screen to mirror the cult classic's plot and catch Tim Curry when he falls out.
Encompassed by tall, spindly trees, players hunker down in wooden castles and slink along fence posts hoping the crunch of leaves underfoot doesn’t give them away. Tense moments like these add up at Camelot Paintball where players trek four woodsball fields and three tournament fields kept under the watchful eyes of experienced refs. Before taking the fields, visitors can stop by the pro shop or shake the rust from trigger fingers at the fully netted shooting range. The battlegrounds are also available for birthday parties and team-building events.
Combining up-to-date teaching techniques with the age-old customs of martial arts, Northampton Karate offers students of all ages a focus on Okinawan Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu style karate for improving health, fitness, and confidence in a friendly atmosphere. Experienced instructors guide their apprentices on board breaking and beard-accumulating journeys to enhanced athletic performance and disciplined behavior. Tiny fighters can take their first roundhouse kicks with Northampton’s kids' classes (ages 5 to 11) and youth program (ages 12 to 15), and adults can bridge the generation gap through well-placed jabs with their respective classes. Check out the schedule to determine which class best fits the color of your karate girdle.