With the sound of fast-approaching engines roaring in your ear, you jam your foot down even harder on the gas pedal and narrow your eyes at the upcoming left-hand turn, determined not to let up even for an instant. If you do, there’s a good chance that your new view will consist of your competition gloating triumphantly while they zip past you on the track. You may only be driving a GT-5 Sodikart, and not a tricked-out racecar, but you absolutely refuse to let any of the other adult or—gulp—junior drivers beat you.
Track 21 lets speed-demons careen around one of three indoor go-kart tracks at speeds of up to 40 mph as they try to edge past other karts, competing with fellow birthday partiers or coworkers to reach the finish line before it decides to become a finish wall. In case competition gets too fierce, the karts are surrounded by heavy nylon bumpers and rubber blocks designed to absorb impact from all sides.
Friendly rivalries continue on foot inside Area 21, a two-story laser-tag battleground beset with fog, obstacles, and space-age scenery. Sharpshooters zap each other's targets in pursuit of a grander mission, such as capturing the opposing base or stealing the enemy's supply of light, before matches end and scores are tallied on a stats sheet. Glowing decor also illuminates a jungle-themed nine-hole mini-golf course, where gorilla and lion statues bask in the black lights. Track 21’s arcade demands timing and button-smashing dexterity from gamers, and a track-side casino sets up rounds of blackjack, poker, and craps.
Most courses have one signature hole. SilverHorn Golf Club of Texas has two—one for both nines—and both provide a window into the landscape-savvy brains of Randy Heckenkemper and PGA Tour pros Willie Wood and Scott Verplank, the trio responsible for this 6,922-yard, par 72 course design. At the par-five sixth hole, a 20-acre lake hugs the left side of a 556-yard dog-leg left, making any attempt to shorten the hole by cutting the corner a daring proposition. The inventive use of water hazards—a recurring feature throughout the course—returns on the par-four 15th hole, where two stone-lined creeks cross in front of the green, demanding a strategic approach shot or an amphibious golf cart. Tree-lined fairways and contoured greens characterize the rest of the 18-hole layout, which offers four tees to appeal to golfers of all abilities.
The Club also offers a driving range that serves as the grassy classroom for The Academy at SilverHorn Golf Club, where Director of Instruction Rob Myers and a staff of PGA pros and apprentices offer lessons. Lessons cover everything from putting form to swing mechanics to learning specialty shots, such as drawing the ball off the tee or chipping it discreetly into your rival’s beverage.
Course at a Glance:
The golfing gurus at Edwin Watts Golf Academy diagnose and correct their students' poor swing and putting habits in an effort to help them improve their shots and lower their scores. In one-on-one swing-analysis sessions, students learn a repeatable swing that eliminates tendencies they may have to slice, hook, push, or pull the ball. A special laser attaches to the end of the player's club and tracks the swing path while JC Video swing-analysis software records the session from two separate angles, lest analysis be thrown off by only looking at the golfer's good side. Putting analysis employs Tomi technology to measure eight separate parameters of the putting stroke, from clubhead orientation at address to swing path and tempo. After swing and putting lessons, students may access the recordings on a password-protected website, so they can forward videos to friends or sports-documentary filmmakers.
Three-time Masters Champion Jimmy Demaret states, “I simply followed the natural features of the land” to explain the genesis of his brainchild, the Onion Creek Club. Here 18 holes of championship golf—designed by course architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore—sprawl alongside tennis courts and a clubhouse with a fitness center and junior-Olympic-size swimming pool. The par-70 course’s claim to fame is having hosted the inaugural Senior PGA event in 1978, four years after the greens’ bermuda grass first whimpered under cleated feet. Its signature third hole invites golfers to play aggressively with their drivers in order to vault orbs onto a landing strip guarded by trees and a creek, or to grip their irons and aim for a narrow green that has notoriously uncommunicative air-traffic controllers.
In addition to the course and its accompanying driving range with 30 hitting stations, Onion Creek Club invites racket-wielders to take advantage of lighted hard and clay tennis courts. The clubhouse’s fitness center challenges muscles with Cybex strength machines, and its junior-Olympic-size pool allows 9 irons to slip into their bikinis and go for a splash.
After becoming an all-American at the University of Houston, qualifying for the U.S. Open twice, and making the cut at The Masters during his professional career, seasoned golf instructor Jim McLean has added one more accomplishment to his resumé: Jim McLean Golf Schools was touted as one of the country's top 25 golf schools in 2008 by Golf magazine.
Following Jim's innovative philosophy of biomechanics, a team of instructors—with levels ranging from certified, master, and lead master—teach the components of a successful golf swing, focusing on each player's physical capabilities and limitations and developing a tailored lesson plan. In order to become a Jim McLean golf instructor, pupils must pass a rigorous certification process that includes one to three years of teaching at the club, conducting their own extensive golf-swing-research projects, and learning to grow natural spikes out of their feet. During private lessons and clinics, golf gurus use 3-D graphical imaging and data analysis to provide instant feedback.
At Jim McLean Golf Schools, players hone their games with indoor and outdoor practice facilities that include a 50,000-square-foot short-game range, a lit driving range, and a practice bunker. The complex is also home to the Legends Scoring Nine course, which, along with the practice facilities, has been a training ground and putter-jousting arena for rising PGA star Jason Day, who placed 3rd at the 2013 Masters.
The professionals at Honors Golf Academy take into account the fact that players gravitate to the greens for different reasons, and so they cater to both the casual swinger and the scratch golfer during private and group lessons. Drawing on more than a decade of experience with teaching golf, the academy’s certified instructor—who has a handicap of zero himself—employs video analysis to break down the elements of students’ swings. Lessons can focus on anything from driving form to putting endgame, and take place in the academy’s enclosed hitting area or out on the fairways, where students tackle a nine-hole course under the guidance of their mentor. Honors Golf Academy also pairs clients with custom Acer and Power Play clubs, ensuring that each new acquisition is the right fit.
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