News & Politics

Have More Fun: Golfing

There's nothing like a day on the green.

On September 11, 2001, Jim Waters was a Web developer at the Pentagon. The terrorist attack hit his wing of the building but missed his office. In the aftermath, he had an epiphany: “I wanted to do more with my life than just working the daily grind, paying the bills, and saving for retirement.”

Waters already loved golf. The result of his epiphany is, a Web site that offers golf fitness tips, a course locator, and readers’ golf-course reviews. Here are his three steps to becoming a golf nut.

• Before trying to mimic your favorite golfer’s stroke, learn all you can about grip, stance, and alignment by taking a lesson or two. Capital City Golf School ( offers group and private lessons as well as video swing analysis at three courses: East Potomac (972 Ohio Dr., SW; 202-479-2596), Rock Creek (16th St. and Joyce Rd., NW; 202-882-7332), and Langston (2600 Benning Rd., NE; 202-397-8638).

• There are about 170 golf courses within an hour’s drive of DC. Almost all have teaching pros who offer lessons starting from about $30 a half hour. Don’t worry about owning clubs at this stage; most schools and courses will lend or rent you clubs while you’re learning. Find a course that’s convenient, and call about lessons; most pros love to teach and are very willing to offer advice.

• If the lessons hook you, the next step is to find the right clubs. Washington Golf Centers (Arlington, Fairfax, Chantilly, Rockville, and Gaithersburg; 800-967-5342; and Golfdom (8203 Watson St., McLean; 703-790-8844; have indoor hitting areas and putting greens to test equipment. Starter sets range from $159 to $399, but novices beware: Clubs can get expensive. Don’t think a $500 driver is the answer: At your level, a name brand isn’t going to ensure that your ball finds the fairway.

Now it’s time to play. can help you find a course. It can also tell you the cost of a round, the speed of the greens, and the course’s difficulty. Golf is challenging enough without the pressure of holding up the group behind you; pick the right course for your budget and skill level.

Between rounds, practice at driving ranges such as those at East Potomac Park and Olney Golf Park (3414 Emory Church Rd., Olney; 301-570-6600; . For a more arcadelike experience, TopGolf (6625 S. Van Dorn St., Alexandria; 703-924-2600; offers balls with silicon chips and dartboard-style targets. After all, golf is supposed to be fun.

—Caleb Hannan