Loves Park Scuba immerses its students in hands-on training—literally. Whether they're exploring shipwrecks in the Great Lakes or learning the basics at the bottom of the training center's 85-degree indoor pool, students get in the water almost immediately. Master instructor Captain Dan Johnson leads a team adept at training and certifying clients in more than 20 specialty courses year-round, including open water and advanced adventure diver certification courses. Captain Dan teaches fundamentals as well as complex skills such as underwater navigation and training octopi to adjust your equipment. Meanwhile, a private charter boat ferries training and certified students on dive trips in the Great Lakes. The center also rents and sells gear from Aqua Lung, SeaLife, DeepSee, and Tusa.
For more than 40 years, the staff at Bob's Bike Shop has been matching customers to new two-wheeled companions. Staffers specialize in maintaining the individual parts of nearly all bicycle makes and models, correcting damage caused by routine wear and tear, as well as storage in a garage that angry raccoons have claimed as their home. Their tune-ups include brake and gear adjustment, chain greasing, and detail cleaning. In an effort to become an authority on BMX bikes and products, the staffers spend much of their time attending races and freestyle-cycling events.
The Golf Shack Super Driving Range provides golf-ball-wallopers with a place to practice swings year-round, featuring 40 stalls, 20 grass tees, and a bentgrass putting green. Twenty covered stalls stand staunchly next to 20 uncovered stalls, allowing drivers to choose their preferred ambience. Upon entry, visitors receive a basket containing 80 balls, offering golfers a chance to perfect their power drive, take a couple of reps with their new set of irons, or test their experimental rocket-propelled hover-putter. Ambitious Groupon holders also have the option of using all three buckets in one trip.
Designed by course architect Dick Nugent, the acclaimed Aldeen Golf Course ushers club-toting clientele into a 7,131-yard grassy valhalla stretching across bucolic fairways and exceptionally maintained greens. Five sets of tees temper the difficulty of this lengthy and relatively challenging course, which requires astute club selection to adjust for subtle elevation changes, sound course management to cope with 62 treacherous sand bunkers, and one philologist to converse with the hillpeople living amid the well-mounded rough. Encroaching water hazards rear their hydraulic heads on a dozen holes including the signature par 3 eighth, where duffers clamber over a replica of the storied Swilcan Bridge of St. Andrews lore to access an island green that would make even the boldest of John Daly impressionists nostalgic for the predictability of putt-putt windmills. Loop the verdant links the old-fashioned, foot-intensive way with today’s first option, or enlist a trustworthy cart to tote a bag and golf mate with today’s second option.
Stretching across Rockford's south side since 1930, the 18-hole Sandy Hollow Golf Course has fielded fairway-threading drives, pin-seeking approaches, and birdie-sealing putts for more than 80 years. As one of five Park District Courses, the 6,228-yard loop presents lush fairways lined with trees, which aim to swat humans' shots as revenge for turning their friends into paper towels. The course also boasts a significant environmental pedigree, having been certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and taking top prize in the Public Space category of the 2002 City of Gardens Rockford in Bloom awards.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 6,228 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 70 from the back tees * Course slope of 120 from the back tees * Two sets of tees per hole
A player waits silently behind a tree, holding his breath as a group of enemies comes into view. Slowly, his finger moves to the trigger of a paintball marker. He pauses momentarily, then steps from his hiding place to paint the sky in acrylic salvos.
Wyldside Paintball's fields use the area's natural terrain to set a stage for friendly battles. Sporting different names such as Outback and Pines Field, the simulated battlegrounds surround teams in dense forests, felled trees, and man-made walls. Outside the forest, colorful ammo soars over more open landscapes at the Wyld West Town field. Wyldside Paintball also employs a legion of referees to ensure safety, fair play, and the absence of performance-enhancing Trojan horses.