ELDERSBURG — Driving ranges are not what they used to be, and the golfing world is better off for it.
Some of the worst images were created back inthe dark ages of driving ranges. Included were scenes of Saturday night joy riders stopping at the range long enough to clown on the teesbefore giggling girlfriends.
The loud and distracting performances sent serious golfers ducking for safety.
Balls issued to early range customers looked more like walnuts, teeing areas were made of dust and gravel, and if you dared to use one of the "house" clubs the head might fall off with the first solid drive.
But it's not that way now at Liberty Golf Park here.
In a setting of ample paved parking, elegant landscaping, 98 tees (count 'em), a grass putting green, target greens for pitching, practice sand traps, an 18-hole miniature putting course and a fully-stocked clubhouse, it's understandable why area golfers are regulars at Liberty Park.
And there's a baseball cage for those who prefer to swing bats instead of clubs.
Head professional at the Liberty operation is Dan Loucks, a PGA professional of 14 years. The 43-year-old Loucks, a native of Westchester, N.Y., is proud that his operationmeets all the criteria of a fully approved golf center.
Liberty Park is one of 14 golfing facilities operated by U.S. Golf Properties of Manassas, Va.
"It's rewarding to hear the many compliments we get here", said Loucks. "We have a place here for golfers at every level.
"If it is a case of introduction to the game, we have an excellent learning center. We also offer both individual and group lessons," added Loucks. His teaching assistants are Steve Jones and Devin McNitt.
While Loucks has concentrated solely on refining Liberty Park since taking over in April, he hopes in the fall to find time for some competitive golf of his own. He is winner of nine sectional levelpro tournaments, including the 1980 Vermont Open. Dan is married andfather of a 3-year-old son.
The Roaring Run Lions captured the annual Western Maryland College Invitational Golf Tournament, heldat the college course.
The winners carded a 374 total. The Moose Club of Westminster was second with 381, and the Westminster Elks were third with a 394 score.
Charles Palmer, scoring a gross 69, won individual honors and the President's Cup. He was followed by Gary Dorsey and Sam Hays, both carding 71. The long-driving contest was won by Randy Swain, and Bruce Smith was closest to the pin.
In the 23 years, the field has grown from 46 to 132 players.
Mark Spolarich of Crofton, Anne Arundel County, equaled the competitive course record with 67 in the Westminster Motors Pro-Am tourney at Wakefield.Second place went to Mike Welsh of Towson Golf and Country Club in Baltimore County, carding 69. The non-competitive course record is 66,established by Todd Eckenrode several years ago.
Among thosescheduled to compete in the 8 a.m. shotgun American Cancer Society golf tournament at Bear Creek near Westminster tomorrow are: Greg Olson, Jeff Ballard and Chris Hoiles from the Orioles and Scott Manning of the Blast.