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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | FOR THE KIDS

Nighttime Golf Outings Suit Families to a Tee

The summer weather is driving up evening attendance at cool, illuminated courses.

August 15, 1996|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Families are going to have a tough time beating the coming weeks' heat and smog without forsaking all forms of outdoor fun. For some families the answer might be nighttime summer golf--even if they have kids as young as 5 or 6.

From Van Nuys to Ventura, Sepulveda Basin to Simi Valley, folks of all ages are showing up in droves at cool, illuminated driving ranges and 9-hole and miniature golf courses. "When it's warm, we're busy. We get a lot of families," said Debbie Pederson, manager of the Sepulveda Driving Range in the Valley's Sepulveda Basin. "This has become their evening recreation instead of going to the movies after dinner in the summer."

She also has noted that this type of family activity is a "repeat business," where kids are--so to speak--the driving force. "They come and hit ball after ball long after the adults fade out," she said.

The manager at Golf N' Stuff in Ventura also noticed this pattern at his miniature golf location. "People like to come back," observes Thang Huynh. Evidently so. He has customers until midnight most nights and later on the weekends--the longest nighttime operating hours in the region for a golf facility. He has bumper cars and bumper boats at his site, too.

At Golfland in North Hollywood, manager Danny Zebalos says business is booming this summer. His 18-hole facility is open until 11 p.m., as is the driving range batting cage.

At Van Nuys Golf Course, manager Paul Tanner regularly hosts little duffers of 10 and 11 who make the rounds of the nighttime course there. "Their parents have dropped them off. And other kids as young as 5 are making the rounds with their parents," he said. Evening golf classes for various ages are available, too.

There's enough interest growing among youngsters to sustain the growth of several serious national junior golfer organizations. According to the American Junior Golf Assn., the largest, its membership is climbing by double-digit percentages lately.

For a glimpse of the best young players in action at one of this association's regional tournaments, check out their next event Monday through Thursday at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

DETAILS

* Simi Hills Golf Course--5031 Alamo St., Simi Valley, (805) 522-0803. Lighted driving range open until 10 p.m., last buckets of balls sold at 8:30 p.m. $3 for 35 balls; $5 for 75; $8 for 140. Kids with adult supervision welcome.

* Westlake Village Golf Course--4812 Lakeview Canyon Road, Westlake Village, (805) 495-8437 or (818) 889-1281. Lighted driving range until 10 p.m. Buckets cost $2-$7.

* Golf N' Stuff--5555 Walker St., Ventura, (805) 644-7132. 18-hole miniature golf, plus bumper cars and bumper boats. Open until midnight Sunday-Thursday, 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission $5.50 per person, kids under 5 free with paid adult.

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