Granite Arch Climbing Center doesn’t just teach its visitors how to surmount cliff faces, it prepares them to climb out in the wild. That’s because the facility is divided into different areas that replicate the characteristics of rockfaces around the world. Clients can climb their way up the pin-scarred granite of Yosemite, the horizontal cracks characteristic of upstate New York’s Gunks, or the limestone pockets and tufas found in Thailand. In between these internationally inspired rockfaces, climbers can practice basic skills on bouldering walls and belaying paths. Classes are also available to teach clients the basics or help established climbers advance to more difficult paths. Staff can also help form lasting birthday memories with parties, in which partygoers learn the basics before blowing out their candles and eating the wall.
A bounty of firearms supplies bolsters Ammo Depot’s roster of gun training and safety courses. During the Handguns 101 course, first-timers learn how to operate a firearm by reviewing ammunition and firearm fundamentals, shooting positions, and handgun-cleaning techniques before testing out their newfound skills at the range. Instructors also enlighten pupils with a trio of NRA courses, which include the Basic Pistol course, Personal Protection Inside the Home, and Personal Protection Outside the Home courses. Back in the shop, ammunition comes by the box or in bulk, and visitors can peruse a selection of targets, ear and eye protection, or basic firearm accessories.
In five decades as a golf-course architect, the late Robert Muir Graves put his stamp on more than 800 golf courses worldwide. His artistry is on full display at Cherry Island Golf Course, where he sculpted shapely fairways and greens into the scenic wetlands of Elverta. Throughout the course, Graves balanced holes pocked with streams and ponds with more straight-away tracks, where the only threat of water comes from the clouds and the open mouths of pelicans flying overhead. The course's hardest-rated hole, the par-4 seventh, is a titan of a hole. Though it only measures 391 yards from the tips, a pond runs from the right side of the fairway to the front of the green, imperiling golf balls on both tee shots and approaches.
Before testing their mettle on the links, golfers can get their timing down at a driving range with grass and artificial tees. The practice facility also encompasses two putting greens where golfers can get a feel for the speed of the putting surfaces without having to drive their cart onto the first green.
Course at a Glance: * Designed by Robert Muir Graves * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,494 yards from the tips * Course rating of 71.0 from the tips * Slope rating of 120 from the tips * Four tee options
Mike Johnson started at Dolphin Scuba Center & Swim School as an entry-level staffer but soon turned his lifelong passion for water into a promising career. Quickly, he became the manager and, at the tender age of 21, the owner of the store—a water-exploration supplier originally founded as a swim school almost 40 years ago.
Today, the PADI five-star facility boasts one of the largest selections of underwater gear in North America, including top brands of scuba, swimming, and snorkeling equipment. Johnson and his team still offer private, one-on-one swimming lessons with certified lifeguard instructors but have branched out into scuba classes. Introductory courses work their way up to professional-level training, all within a pool heated to 92 degrees—the exact temperature of the president’s nightly bath. Students can even test out their newfound skills during scuba-diving trips to the likes of Mexico, the Philippines, and Fiji.
Andy Siebert floated in the water, weightless—almost as if in outer space—and watched as all 40 feet of a Galapagos Island whale shark drifted past him. It’s moments like that one that Andy lives for, having devoted his life to scuba diving. He took his first dive as a teenager, but didn’t take the sport seriously until he turned 42, at which point he began his journey to log more than 3,000 dives.
Now, as owner of Scuba World, Andy works to help others discover their love of the underwater sport. One part retail shop and one part scuba-diving school, the PADI five-star IDC dive center is chock-full of gear for purchase and rental, as well as expert instructors who teach classes for divers of all levels, including instructor-level classes. Their classes range from beginner discovery sessions to open-water-certification courses to rescue-diver classes for the more advanced diver who is worried about all those fish in the ocean who need help getting out. Andy’s wife and partner, Lynn Siebert, plans trips that take divers to waters all over the world, including the nearby Monterey Bay and more far-flung expeditions in Micronesia.
Golf balls blast off from tee boxes before falling gently onto the greens at Bradshaw Ranch Golf Course, where players can hone short-game skills across a nine-hole, par 3 layout with holes ranging from 84 to 218 yards in length. Confident swings are rewarded on the third and fourth holes, where tee shots must soar above ponds and get clearance from earthworm air-traffic controllers in order to reach the green safely. Golfers looking to improve their swing can head to the pro shop to stock up on the latest gear.
Bradshaw Ranch Golf Course also offers the new, exciting sport of footgolf to its players. Played just like golf except using a soccer ball, players "tee off" at the teeing ground, kicking the ball down the fairway all while negotiating hazards and trying to reach a 21-inch cup set adjacent to the putting greens. Soccer cleats are not allowed on the golf course, but indoor soccer shoes or turf soccer shoes are recommended.