It’s 1:29 p.m. and the wave pool at Great Waves Waterpark has been calm for nine minutes. The mood on the surface, however, is anything but. An anticipatory energy has been transmitted through the water as sunbathers migrate from the sun deck, giddy youngsters from the various kids’ areas, and thrill seekers from one of the park’s waterslides. The anticipation ends at 1:30 p.m. when three 80-horsepower motors begin to churn the large fans that whip the pool’s 475,000 gallons of water into waves as high as four feet for 10 minutes. This increment of waves—10 minutes on, 10 minutes off—runs like clockwork at the 20-acre facility, which also features dry attractions such as miniature golf, batting cages, and grassy areas for practicing the backstroke.
In addition to offering sun-soaked thrills of simulated waves, the park's Paradise Play boasts 30-foot slides, pogo sticks, rock walls, and a non-aqueous playground area. A faux beach with sand invites revelers to unwind while snacking on a funnel cake purchased from Riptide Café, while a nearby play pool with pint-sized slides lets little riders get into the summertime mix. After a full day of sliding and swimming, guests may purchase souvenirs from the Shark Shack gift shop.
Golf requires power, precision, and soft touch, and Laurel Golf Center helps players hone all three at one location. Covered hitting stalls facilitate year-round practice at the driving range, where golfers can take aim at six target greens or try to nestle their golf ball inside a passing cloud. Short game practice areas let golfers hone chips, pitches, and shots with awkward lies from a practice bunker. To perfect their feel around the greens, guests can roll through the 18-hole miniature golf course.
Spanning 18,000 square feet of turf-covered courts and batting cages, Raider's Edge hones bat-swinging skills with practice areas and instruction for individuals and groups. Baseball- and softball-pitching machines spit endless volleys of spheres, their speeds adjustable to accommodate both little leaguers and six-armed spider-men. The two spacious turf courts can also accommodate practice for soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey, and dual pitching lanes allow pitchers to perfect their craft side by side. Weekly exercise and softball practice programs focus on skills such as hitting, fielding, and pitching, and young players put their skills into practice as part of Raider’s Edge’s Red Raider softball teams.
As a baseball complex devoted entirely to helping young ballplayers achieve their potential, Round Trip Sports' 7,500 square feet of turfed surface is a breeding ground for the pro sluggers and fielders of tomorrow. Batters perfect their swings in one of three 72-foot hitting tunnels equipped with pitching machines, and pitchers take the mound in one of three 72-foot pitching lanes to practice their fastballs and curveballs. The facility also features fast and slow pitching machines for softball players, and a lobby equipped with TV and WiFi.
But all the equipment would be moot without proper guidance, which is why all of Round Trip Sports' instructors are former college players and major leaguers. They lead clinics and camps for kids of all ages, with specified sessions focusing on topics such as speed and agility and strength and coordination. And then there are the camps and the clinics, where experienced instructors and veteran ballplayers impart the fundamentals necessary to the game: batting, pitching, fielding, and the secret hand signal for "hot dog, hold the mustard."
A member of the PGA since 2005, Mark Russo helps golfers of every age and skill level unlock professional-grade play during lessons at Night Hawk Golf Center. He boils down the complicated game to a three-pronged teaching philosophy that focuses on establishing fundamentals, trusting the swing to produce consistently positive results, and relying on feel as opposed to technical perfection or the advice of a talking divot. Ultimately, students should be able to get the hang of a swing that’s well suited to their bodies and can be comfortably repeated when facing down a tough shot.
At the Columbia Association, visitors find not only a place to work out, swim, or enjoy the great outdoors, but a place to connect with the local community and get to know their neighbors. Families take in live music by the lakefront during summer festivals, or glide across the ice at the public rink. Meanwhile, aspiring athletes build muscle, flexibility, and form with practice at indoor and outdoor tennis courts, or regular trips to the high-tech Columbia Gym. Columbia Association also helps its members maintain a healthy lifestyle with a wide variety of facilities, including nearby golf courses, 23 swimming pools, and even an attached horse center, where humans can learn to ride and horses can get in shape for swimsuit season.