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.
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.
The Severna Park Golf Center houses a variety of activities that let families fill an afternoon with belting balls. Adults ($7.25) and children (12 and under, $5.75) can precisely putt their way through the Lilliputian links winding around an eight-foot waterfall on the 18-hole mini-golf course. A par 27 nine-hole course gives full-sized chippers an opportunity to practice short game situations during abbreviated rounds ($12 on weekends, $10 Mon.—Thurs.). Dust off dormant drivers by launching buckets of dimpled orbs ($6 for 50 balls, $12 for 150) from the fresh hitting mats on the driving range. Fifteen of the 44 stations are covered and heated so that golfers can practice their backswing no matter how low the temperatures limbo this winter. The expansive fields also house ballpark-style batting for claustrophobic sluggers unable to find their swing in cramped cages or abandoned mine shafts. This variation of batting practice ($5.00 for 35 pitches, $12 for 105) mimics actual baseball, so hitters can call their shots and rush the mound if the pitching machine tries to hit them.
Pasadena Golf Center lets visitors create the satisfying thwack of a club hitting a golf ball in one of two locations. They can make out the sound on the 18-hole mini-golf course—where ears will also pick up the sound of trickling waterfalls and the gurgling of landscaped streams and ponds—or at the driving range. Golfers can manipulate a variety of clubs there since targets are set up at different lengths, and 20 of the range’s 34 hitting stations are covered to provide shade during warm months and heat during cold ones. In addition, a full setup of lights let them swing away into the evening or when Apollo's chariot of fire is in the shop. To assist in swing mechanics and proper alignment, the center organizes lessons led by Golf Academy of America–certified instructor, Brett Francisco.
Pasadena Golf Center is also equipped with a nine-station batting cage that challenges visitors with baseball pitches of varying speeds as well as slow- and fast-pitch softball. A 1,600-square-foot patio nearby can facilitate birthday parties or other special events.
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.
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.