County golfers no longer have to wait for decent weather to start swinging.
A new driving range in Severna Park allows customers to stand under a special heater and stay comfortably warm.
"You can hit 'em in your shirt-sleeves," says golfer Paul McKenzie of Arnold.
"Once you get your swing right, you can't wait to getout there. You can't wait to take somebody's money," joked the elderly gentleman. "It gives you a head start on everybody in the spring."
The heated driving range at Severna Park Golf opened three weeks ago, partly in response to the suggestions of customers, says owner George Reich.
A heavy plastic called Co-Ex covers the roof of the three-sided heated range; the wood walls are curved arches, like a cathedral. At night, spotlights turn the roof into glowing bronze. Because most winds come from the west or north, the walls block them out.
The heaters -- gas infrared radiant heaters, which focus on what they see -- keep the golfers warm, at 50 cents extra per half hour forthe heat. Twenty of the 30 driving ranges are covered and heatable.
"Everybody loves it," says Reich. "You can swing on the coldest days. And it's real pretty."
The heated range is the second in the state, along with one in Columbia, Reich says.
He's owned the driving range since 1982, adding baseball batting cages to the mini-golf course and the nine-hole, par-three course.
Three weeks ago, the heated ranges opened. "It's good not just for the heat but for days when it's lightly raining," says Reich.
"And lots of people go to Florida on golf trips in January and February and pay top dollar to play. They play terribly because they're out of practice. This gives you a place to practice before you go."