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VALLEY WEEKEND | FOR THE KIDS

Nighttime Golf Outings Suit Families to a Tee

Valley duffers can avoid the heat and play when the sun goes down at driving ranges and nine-hole and miniature 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 most forms of outdoor fun. For some families, the answer might be nighttime 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, nine-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 and batting cage facility.

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 its next event Monday through Thursday at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

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DETAILS: A sampling of nighttime golf activities:

* Scholl Canyon Golf Course, 3800 E. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, (818) 243-4100. Night-lit driving range open until 10 p.m. Last balls available 9:15 p.m. $5 for 60 balls; $9 for 125. (18-hole course open until 7:30 p.m.)

* Vista Valencia Golf Course, 24700 Trevino Drive, Valencia, (805) 253-1870. Nine-hole par-3 course. Night-lit driving range open until 9 p.m. Last balls available 8:15 p.m. $5 for 56 balls; $9 for 112.

* Sepulveda Driving Range, 16821 Burbank Blvd., Encino. (818) 986-2633. Night-lit driving range open until 11 p.m. $3.50 for 50 balls; $6.50 for 100.

* Van Nuys Golf Course, 6550 Odessa Ave., Van Nuys, (818) 785-8871. Two par-3 courses stay open until 10 p.m. but last tee-offs are at 8 and 8:30 p.m. Nighttime rates $5.75 for 9 holes.

* Golfland, 12400 Vanowen Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 765-4000. Lighted 18-hole course open until 11 p.m. Fees are $5.50 general, kids 2-12 pay $4.50.

* For membership and tournament information on the American Junior Golf Assn., call (770) 998-4653. For membership and Junior Golfer magazine information or the National Assn. of Junior Golfers, call (800) 441-NAJG.

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