By BRENDA REES
ATWATER VILLAGE — The check-in tent was a bustle of activity at the Los Feliz Golf Course on a recent balmy Saturday night. In addition to having their names crossed off a list, golfers were also handed finger lights, blinking plastic eyeglasses, glow-sticks, small flashlights and a golf ball that, when bounced hard, glowed with a luminous color. It was time to play glow ball.
All items were necessary given that these hardy golfers would soon be playing on a pitch black 3-par golf course illuminated only with their gear.
This was the second Glow Ball Night Golf event sponsored by the City of Los Angeles at the Los Feliz course, which happens to be on the Atwater side of the Los Angeles River. Earlier in the day, as many as 40 golfers wanted to join in the festivities but were turned away because the roster had filled up almost two weeks prior.
The first Glow Ball in November was an instant hit, says Rick Reinschmidt, L.A. City’s Golf Supervisor.
“I’ve wanted to try this since last year, but I knew we couldn’t do it in the summertime because it doesn’t get dark until about 9 pm,” he explained. “The first time we did this is was mainly friends and family, but this time, it’s all new faces. There are very few faces I recognize here.”
Gathered at the nearby Los Feliz Cafe, a table of four were enjoying complimentary hot dog and fries, part of the deal golfers get when they sign up for glow ball.
“This should be a whole lot of fun,” says Gary Liddle of Glendora, who convinced three of his buddies — one whom drove all the way from Riverside – to join him in the dark. “I get a night out with the boys.”
One of Liddle’s friends remarked that he played night golf at another course, but they turned on flood lights. “This will be the first time in total darkness,” he said. “I can’t wait.”
Ralph Jones of Burbank had also participated in night golfing at another course. He explained that part of the appeal is seeing “all the colored balls flying around in the middle of the night. Just you wait. It’s like a big light show ”
This crowd ran the gamut when it came to age and ability. “We have some 6 and 7-year-olds as well as some retired folks,” Reinschmidt said. Since the course is a par 3, it’s pretty accessible to all golf levels. “You don’t have to be a really good golfer to play here,” he said
Reinschmidt wants to expand glow ball to other city courses. “There are ways to modify bigger courses to do this. We are thinking we could expand next to the Woodley Lake Golf Course in Van Nuys.”
Could glow ball be a money-making enterprise for the city? After all, operating a golf course is costly and many of them are losing money. A report from the Daily News outlines some extra activities that are being kicked around at L.A. County’s golf courses to help compensate for the course upkeep. Ideas include Zumba and yoga classes as well as concerts, movie nights, Frisbee games and campouts.
“Well, we aren’t making much on this,” admits Reinschmidt about glow ball, adding that the $25 registration per person pretty much covers the course fees, food and prizes.
With dusk quickly approaching, organizers finished wrapping stringed twinkle lights around the hole flags as well as the drink golf cart that would accompany golfers onto the darkened course. Glow-golfers donned sweaters, switched on their blinking eyeglasses and activated their golf balls as they readied themselves for the challenge.
After a quick welcome by Reinschmidt and a photo, groups trekked into the blackness to find their starting hole. Good-natured laughter punctuated the nighttime chilly air. Soon, one could hear “whooshing” sounds along with sharp “cracks” which were followed by colored orbs whizzing delicately above the course as if mini meteorites propelled forward into an unknown darkness alongside the L.A. River. The glowing and golfing had begun.
Glow Ball Night Golf is scheduled for Saturday, February 24. Check in is at 5pm. $25 fee includes LED glow ball, food, drinks and raffle ticket along with course fees. Last day to register is Feb. 19. Limited to 72 entries. To register and for more details, contact Geri Gonzalez at 818-246-1633 or [email protected]
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