Sunday, August 24, 2008

Swingin' Times in Korea Town: Hitting Balls at Aroma Center Golf Range

I was uncomfortably naked the last time I was in Korea Town, but on a slow Friday night, Ugly Shoe and I decided to head that way to hit some balls at the Aroma Resort driving range in Korea Town. I've been here once before years ago and still remember it well as one of those cool and random, "I'm not in L.A." activities. That's because the driving range is on the forth floor of an unassuming office building--and you whack the golf balls over a parking lot, deep into the net-protected night sky.

Finding easy street parking right outside the building, we headed up to the 3rd floor elevator to the front desk area where we purchased a bucket of balls ($10 for 143 balls, perfect for sharing between two without getting our biceps too tired) and rented some clubs ($2 each.) There were plenty of serious golfers wielding their complete golf set of irons and woods but as a beginner, I was fine with the recommended 7 iron. We headed upstairs to the 4th floor to hit some balls!

We found an empty tee station among the row of elderly Korean and Japanese men seriously swinging away. I haven't gone to many driving ranges, but this spot seemed pretty high-tech. Instead of a literal bucket of balls, we were handed a punch card that you insert into a machine. The machine automatically tees up your golf ball (it emerges from a small hole by your feet--the height of the tee can also be controlled with a pedal by the golfer) after every hit. The machine also keeps a tally of how many balls you have left so there's nothing to cloud your mind except how to whack the balls as far as they will go. Or, in my case, just simply connecting with the ball.

Ugly Shoe was a pro, lining up his tee and hitting the ball way to the end of the 150ft long net in one fluid motion. After a few (well, many) false starts with 360 missed swings and badly-aimed hits leaving the ball to just dribble off the edge and fall into the net below, I finally got the hang and at least hit it somewhere in the 75ft range. Hitting the balls were fun but the surreal surroundings makes this above par (sorry, couldn't resist) over other golf ranges.

As you're lobbing your balls over the car-filled parking lot underneath, all you see is Los Angeles' open city in front of you; tall office buildings and palm trees silhouetted against the hazy-purple night sky--the panoramic view broken only by flying white balls hurtling through the dark night.

Aroma Resort @ Wilshire Center, 3rd Floor
3680 Wilshire Blvd (cnr of Wilshire & Serrano, two blocks E of Western)
Aroma Resort
$10 for 143 golf balls