The sight of a medieval castle surrounded by tall cacti may seem anachronistic at first, but it's hard to question the image when one is trying to putt a mini golf ball into a grassy hole off the circulating paddles of a windmill. It's whimsical moments like this that make Golf N? Stuff's name feel understated. Beyond the two lush 18-hole mini golf courses that draw year-round visitors, the entertainment center boasts go-karts, bumper boats, and more than 100 arcade games. Batting cages let both kids and adults perfect their swings. Visitors can refuel on hot dogs, Dippin' Dots ice cream, and soda at the snack bar.
The batter casually taps the bottoms of his cleats with his bat, takes a warm-up swing, and steps into the batter’s box. He repeats this motion a couple more times, feeling the weight of the lumber in his hands. Knees slightly bent, the batter pulls the bat back and peers over his forward shoulder, eyes fixated on a small sphere as it rolls into the chamber of a pitching machine lying some 50 feet away. Suddenly, the machine launches the baseball from its metal clutches at a speed of up to 80 miles per hour, destined for the heart of the strike zone.
Such is the scene inside the batting cages at Camarillo Bat-R-Up, an indoor batting-practice facility. Ballplayers can choose from slow- and fast-pitch softball and baseball machines, which hurl strikes at 40, 60, or 80 miles per hour. Instructional sessions take place within the Pro Cage, where an ex-professional gives pointers on hip turns, waiting on strikes, and driving outside pitches to work in order to use the carpool lane.
When Simi Valley Batting Cages first opened back in 1989, it was simply a place where batters could practice their swing. Since then, owner Rudy Gonzalez has made it his goal to create a facility where players can work on other facets of their game, such as fielding and wrestling the mascot. Sure, he's installed state-of-the-art pitching machines that hurl balls as fast as 75 miles per hour, but he's also organized lessons that focus not only on hitting, but also on throwing and other fundamentals. Players will find plenty of ways to boost their game in the pro shop, which stocks bats, bags, and gear from brands such as Easton and Rawlings.
At So Cal Hitting Zone, former pro baseball players oversee a 7,000-square-foot training facility equipped with professional batting cages. Owner Will Skett and fellow coach Casey Snow—who played AA ball for the Toronto Blue Jays and at the AAA level for the Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively—lead custom training programs for players of all ages, specializing in hitting, fielding, pitching, and strength and speed training. In the batting cages, Iron Mike pitching machines hurl fastballs, curveballs, and sliders, and the pro shop stocks professional equipment from brands such as Mizuno, Easton, and Rawlings.
Some people are born athletes, but proper training can give most anyone an athletic edge. The team of trainers at Velocity Sports Performance knows how to take personal performance to the next level, just as they have done with their former clients—many of whom include professional and international athletes. Programs for student athletes help them achieve new heights from season to season and training for adults ranges from group fitness classes to elite personal training. With a massive 15,000 square feet of football turf, running tracks, ball courts, and lifting areas, programs can be tailored to help athletes excel in just about any sport.
The metallic clunks of baseballs and softballs struck by swinging bats pulse through Castle Batting Cages, located inside Sherman Oaks Castle Park. The hurling apparatuses serve up these ill-fated spheres at speeds as low as 20 miles per hour and as high as 80 miles per hour. The slow-pitch-softball machines toss both low-arc and high-arc strikes, and the fast-pitch-softball cage tests reflexes with speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.