Teeing off at Tee Time
If I went back and told 10-year-old Jeffery Simmons that by 35, the only sport he would play consistently is golf, he would laugh. Younger Jeff would tell me how I should be saving 40 games a year in the MLB at my age now, not carrying a 40 handicap around local golf courses.
Alas, the dream of being a big-league reliever never came true and I’ve turned to the links. I love it too, not matter how bad I am. It’s a great way to spend a nice sunny afternoon, especially if you want to question everything about your life after you top your fifth straight iron shot about 20 yards.
I’m not sure when I started playing golf a lot – it just happened gradually. In college, I played a few courses around Knoxville, though never with any sort of skill. I do remember cutting my teeth with the game of golf at Collins River Golf Course, where my brother and I would take on my dad and his friend, whom we dubbed the ‘Bronze Bear.’
I never really figured out the nine-hole course, but I started to realize I liked playing, even when I didn’t play well. Now, I’ve played many rounds at Willowbrook, RiverWatch and Sparta, along with McMinnville Country Club, where I’m a member.
Now, I can add the course that the ‘Golden Bear’ Jack Nicklaus built – Muirfield Village – to my list. And I did it without having to drive to Ohio.
Wednesday night, I gathered a few friends and we scheduled a tee time at Tee Time, the golf simulator at the Elementary in Morrison. I’ll definitely be going back for more.
Aside from the fact the facilities are out-of-this-world impressive, it’s just a ton of fun to be able to enjoy golf 365 days a year, rain or shine. And – as a big guy – I didn’t mind the fact I wasn’t sweating profusely after two holes like I am if I’m outside taking my hacks in 90-plus degree heat.
The owner walked us through how to use the simulator in just a few minutes. It wasn’t too hard to pick up – just line up and swing. If you want to know all the specifics of your swing, then it will tell you. I thought spin rate was only brought up when Gerrit Cole was cheating for the Yankees, but apparently it matters in golf too.
It will also tell you how fast the ball takes off – I topped out at 150 MPH – and the distance. For everybody who goes out to the course and swears they can drive it 300 yards, there is a place where you can test it out. The owner told us when we were hitting the top drive was over 310 yards – so I guess somebody around here can drop bombs.
As for me, my top distances were usually somewhere around 225-230 yards. I wasn’t surprised – usually my ball goes as far left as it does up the course.
Quick aside: The distance feature actually made me feel a little better from last week. I played in the Children’s Advocacy Center scramble Friday and had an eventful day once we got to holes No. 11-12. On No. 11, two of our players on our team, including me, hit terrible drives that actually sailed near the red tees on No. 12, where the group in front of us was hitting. We shouted, ‘fore,’ but it’s never a good feeling to hit a shot so poorly that goes on another hole.
Well, we got through No. 11 and got to No. 12, where we had 270 yards to the green after our tee shot on the Par 5. The same group was finishing up on the green and would be heading to the tee box on No. 13 soon, again putting them in our potential line of fire.
Instead of waiting for them to clear and move closer to us, I went ahead and hit. There seemed like there would be no way any of us could get to the green in two shots – through the 10 holes we played, we had barely reached Par 3s in two shots, much less a Par 5. You probably already know where this is going – I somehow hit a shot all the way to the green.
You know how it’s a bad feeling when you hit a shot on another hole that gets near another playing group? I can tell you that it’s even worse when you hit an amazing shot and hit somebody who is playing the same hole as you.
We made sure to apologize for playing into them – but I still feel terrible. To the person who was on the green during that shot, please shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and claim your free subscription. I still can’t believe that happened and I'm so sorry!
After trying our hand on the range and at a Par 3 course for a few holes, we all decided we wanted to test out the courses the pros play. Maybe we should’ve just stayed on the practice range.
Our scores soared after just two holes – I think the lowest score among our foursome was +3. By the end of seven holes, I somehow had surged to the front at +10. In other words, I WON!!
All I know is, no matter how many shots I took, I had fun with every one of them. If I had to improve a few things, it would be teaching the simulator that I know precisely how to hit a ball off a cart path and get an extra 15-20 yards on the bounce. It also had great sound effects for when I hit it into the trees, but somehow didn’t understand that I always know which branch to hit to get my shot back on a straight line.
To its credit though, it did have a feature where it gave you an automatic two-putt once you were on the green and just one stroke if you hit it inside 10 feet. I’m probably a 20 percent putter on 10-foot putts, so thanks for those free strokes!
I’m looking forward to going back and I hope everybody in town checks it out too. I think it would be cool to hold some tournaments or have long drive competitions – especially in the winter when people are looking for a way to have some fun in the cold.
Even 10-year-old Jeff would agree – there is nothing better than having sports every day of the year.