At Sterling Golf and Swim Club, golfers send balls sailing down the tree-lined fairways of an 18-hole, par 54 golf course, and swimmers backstroke across two 25-meter pools. For nearly half a century, club-wielders have traversed past water and dodged bunkers at the executive course, giving the pines and weeping willows ample time to flourish, and the nonprofit club itself has existed for four decades. Two kiddie pools flank the club’s two larger pools, enabling wee ones to practice breathing through their gills while their older siblings butterfly down lanes, and a game room provides indoor entertainment. An adult lounge lets weary golfers relax in peace, and the clubhouse’s pro shop outfits players searching for golf balls whose dimples perfectly match their own.
Each element of the sporting symphony emanates from its respective part of Dulles Golf Center & Sports Park: the pings of golf balls from the driving range, the smacks of the volleyball from the sand courts, and the line-drive cracks from the batting cages. The covered, lighted range?which Golf Range Magazine ranked as one of the Top 50 Standalone Golf Ranges in America in 2013?is home to PGA Director of Instruction Chuck Will and his golf academy. It's also big brother to a 18-hole miniature golf course decorated with the scaled-down versions of historic lighthouses, which lends the course a nautical charm and might help anyone find safe passage on a particularly foggy night.
Interspersed with rolling hills, meandering woods, and rippling water obstacles, each of these featured courses provides a challenging round for golfers of any skill level. Designed by renowned course architect and Jack Nicklaus-protégé David Heatwole, 1757's par 70 layout rewards crafty shots made on deceptively subtle greens and around towering brick barriers camouflaged to match the surrounding foliage. 1757's practice facility drills drivers with more than 100 hitting stations of grass and synthetic SportTurf tees, as well as a full short-game training area complete with facsimile fairways, bunkers, and greens. The Virginia Oaks course, considered one of Virginia's most difficult, was designed in 1995 by putting-placement legend P.B. Dye, challenging players with a narrow 18 holes rounded out by artfully placed obstacles. Home to a Nike Golf Learning Center, Reston National provides an accessible environment for players to learn and perfect their strokes away from the incessant creaking of rickety mini-golf windmills.
Komodo dragons, quicksand, and headhunter’s darts are just some of the dangers that lurk in the jungle depths of the Perils of the Lost Jungle miniature golf course at Woody’s Golf Range, whose innovative attractions caught the eye of The Washington Post and earned it a place in Newsweek Magazine’s recommended mini-golf courses in 2005. Harder hitting clubs hone their swings at the driving range. Golfers can spend their time there digging up divots in Patriot-Bermuda-grass hitting stations or sending balls whistling over AstroTurf mats. The range’s heated, lighted, and covered stalls let players practice year-round. Along with separate practice areas for pitching and chipping, a sand trap invites golfers to practice the best way to get out of a bad lie—by digging an escape tunnel. Guests can trade in their clubs for bats at four softball cages and five baseball cages, and themed picnic areas enable groups to turn their visit into a day-long extravaganza.
Golf balls whistle through the air as they take flight over the driving range at Waters Landing Golf Park, an 18-acre practice facility where golfers of all stripes flock to groom their game. But while the range’s mix of grass and artificial tees—as well as its 15 covered and heated hitting stalls—offer ample space for solitary practice or black-market driver exchanges, the heart and soul of Waters Landing Golf Park is its golf instruction curriculum.
Helmed by PGA Director of Instruction John Hafera, lessons and clinics take a modern and holistic approach to golf improvement. Using Titleist Performance Institute’s techniques for measuring golf fitness and the latest technological teaching aids—including K-Vest 3-D motion-capture analysis and V1 video-swing analysis—John and his staff assess golfers’ skill sets using the "six factors of golf": swing technique, equipment, mental game, physical assessment, course management, and special knowledge. By making strides in each of these six golf facets, golfers can scratch bogeys off of their scorecards and overcome their fear of being swallowed whole by a sand trap.
While the game of golf is always played outdoors, practicing is often better served indoors, where variables such as weather and turf quality can be controlled. Though Club Golf actually operates in both environments?it also does business at Blue Mash Golf Course?its primary facility is an indoor, golf-dedicated training center that helps players improve their game with an arsenal of hitting bays and swing-analysis devices. Among these are a pair of Trackman launch monitors, which measure a host of swing factors including club-head speed and launch angle, and six V1 Video Analysis Systems, which help players understand the precise mechanics of their swing, from address to backswing.
But it's not all about technology, unlike Ivan Drago's unnatural workout routine in Rocky IV. The club also features a 1,200-square-foot putting green and a short-game practice area with a bunker, as well as fitness equipment to help players transform themselves into long-driving, straight-hitting golfing machines.
Overseeing all of this swinging, measuring, sand-blasting, and dumbbell-curling are a pair of PGA-certified instructors, Ryan Chaney, John Hafera, Brendon Post, and Joy Bonhurst. Each conducts private and group lessons in the facility, and then helps students make the transition outdoors through lessons on course strategy and decision-making.