Friday, July 6, 2012

Golf at East Potomac Park

In life, there are things that we make happen regardless of the obstacles and there are things that we will never do without a gun pointed at our head.  Most things, however, lie somewhere in between those two extremes.

When J made her 30 Before 30 list (for more, see here and here), the intention was to push herself to do those things that she always wanted to do yet, for whatever reason, had not.  Playing nine holes at East Potomac Park was a perfect example.

The appeal is clear and goes like this: location, location, location.  The course is bordered by the Potomac to the west, the Jefferson Memorial to the north, and Hains Point to the east.  Looking for a target for your tee shot?  Try the Washington Monument.  So why has it taken this long for us to play a round out there? I guess there was that pesky obstacle of teaching J how to play.

I was lucky enough to grow up with the game. My grandfather was one of the first members of the Los Angeles Chinese Golf Club and passed the sport down to my whole family.  As J likes to point out, we've gone on family golf vacations together.  That's how engrained it is in my childhood.  (Yikes, how snobby does that sound? Let me be clear, when I say I grew up with the game, I don't mean on a country club. I'm talking Danny Noonan, not Judge Smails).

Regardless, marrying into my family without knowing a tee from a two-iron can be intimidating.  All credit goes to J for even attempting to pick up a golf club.  Thankfully, whether you are learning to play like J or dusting off considerable rust like me, East Potomac Park is worth a trip.

There are three courses.  The Red Course is a 9-hole par 3 "pitch and putt" for beginners.  The White Course is a 9-hole executive track (3 and 4 par holes).  The Blue Course is the regulation 18-hole course.  The facility has a double deck driving range (invest in the discount card), chipping area, and multiple putting greens.  The pro shop is small but serviceable (they did a nice job regripping my clubs), and the online reservation system has been great.

As for the course, if the Red Course is any indication, East Potomac is quite the hidden gem.  The crowds are low (we've seen plenty of twosomes), the pace is good, and the condition of the greens and tee boxes is surprisingly high.  Keeping in mind that this course caters to people learning to play and that greens fees are only $10-13, it is quite a bargain.

After a handful of amateur lessons at the driving range (under the cover of darkness), J more than held her own on the Red Course and was able to check off the most intimidating item of her 30 Before 30 list.  Not only have we been back (on her request), we even played nine with my parents.

J Says

Like swing dancing, golf scared the crap out of me.  I'm not big on being "new" at things, particularly when being new could mean sending an errant ball careening into a crowd of people or (more likely) whiffing entirely while people are waiting for you to tee off.  Like B said, I insisted we go to the driving range when it was late at night and nobody would notice me.  When I finally got the nerve to try the Red Course, I found friends to book all the spots in our foursome so that we wouldn't get paired with any strangers.  I was a total nervous wreck but ended up having a blast (and an allergy attack), and was excited to go back and try again.  I even managed to overcome my fears and play a round with B's parents on Father's Day.  After the initial anxiety attack subsided, I got into the groove and actually hit some decent shots. 

The Red Course at East Potomac is just my speed.  Not at all intimidating, and cheap enough that I feel like I can go out and try without breaking the bank.  I also really love the setting near the monuments and the proximity to the ever-important post-golf brunch options (Eastern Market, for example).  I'm still a bundle of nerves and still secretly hope that we won't get paired with strangers, but I am becoming more confident, nine holes at a time.

If you're new to golf, I recommend checking out their Get Golf Ready classes for just $99.  If I wasn't such a giant chicken (and didn't have a private coach in B), I would sign up in a heartbeat.  Another great and affordable DC hidden gem.

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