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When we were young, we swore we would never golf. We saw the sport as Mark Twain did, "a good walk spoiled." Of course, we also thought our metabolism would keep us at 175 pounds, no matter what we ate. Age changed both of these ideas. So when we decided to take up golf this year, we were--and are--forever thankful we found the Golf Academy of Dallas, located at The Range at Tenison Park. Director of Instruction Scott Robbins and his crew (we also worked with former LPGA player Kelly Holland, who was wonderful) make even the most uncoordinated golf beginner feel comfortable. They specialize in the beginner but also have classes for intermediate level and private lessons for whomever needs his or her swing tinkered. If you ask nicely, Robbins will also teach you the lingo you'll need to appear cool on the course (for example, they're not golf clubs, they're sticks). All the info you need on The Range is online at www.rangeattenisonpark.com. Nothing for you to do now but golf it.
Nobody, but nobody, tries to "buy a game" the way golfers do. You say this Fred Flintstone-sized titanium driver is longer, straighter, truer and it's played by the guy who won on the Tour last week? I'm down. Wrap it up. You say these new $39-a-dozen balls will keep me on the short grass? I'll take two dozen. With the prices club makers want these days, it doesn't hurt to save a few bucks on this kind of habit. An even bigger plus at Wally's is having sales guys who are knowledgeable enough to help you pick the right stuff. We found them at the branch we frequent on Stemmons Freeway. This is a locally owned outfit, in business since owner Wally Arbuckle began selling clubs out of his garage in the 1960s. The trade here is pro-line clubs, meaning the kind used by good players and countless hackers who think a sweet shot is only a $400 driver away.
This popular sports bar has seven coin-operated tables and free pool before 7 p.m. It might not be for purists, but the place is usually jumping. There's a regular Saturday tournament and plenty of non-pool diversions, including Foosball, darts and shuffleboard. Bar food ranging from sandwiches to sandwiches--pastrami, roast beef, turkey and ham--complements the main course at the bar.
For sheer size and variety--and that friendly YMCA atmosphere--it's impossible to beat the big Y, which at one time not long ago billed itself as the biggest Y on the planet. There's a pool, indoor track, squash courts, racquetball courts, hoops courts and machines of every description: rowers, cycles, runners, weights and stairs. Combine that with all the classes, and pretty soon you'll be what our old Y instructor said we should be, back when it might have been true. As he put it: "Be proud of your body." An Observer staffer who belongs said make sure to mention the covered smoking area outside--but we won't.
Oh, you can keep your froufrou gyms, your pantywaisted health clubs. Go soak your head in the Jacuzzi. Pull up to the juice bar and take your slug of wheatgrass. Go ride your stationary bike, 'cause you ain't goin' nowhere. Yeah, sport, just wrap yourself in a freshly laundered, club-provided terry-cloth towel and leave us the hell alone. We're over at Doug's, sweating our asses off in the middle of summer and freezing our nuts off come February 2; we ain't got no time for such luxuries as air conditioning. We come here to do one thing: get ripped, baby, pumped to the pecs. Doug Eidd, owner of this joint since Jack Ruby was a free man, has no patience for the namby-pambies of your more expensive gyms; this is bare bones, man, down to the sinew. Doug trains with the counsel of the elders and the patience of the divine, as both men and women who care only about getting fit hang here and endure the regime he will design solely for you. Weight lifting, boxing, jumping rope--it's simple, and yet so danged tough. We're still not sure if we're exercising or enduring ritualistic torture--really, who in 2002 tosses the medicine ball, save for us dopes--but we like the way we look; so do the ladies. Well, not really. But they will, damn it. Oh, they will. Won't they?
He's been knocking around the NBA for four decades, as a player, coach and general manager, so he should have things figured out, right? What the three-time Coach of the Year has done since his arrival in Dallas is steadily gather a collection of talented players and design a game plan that best suits them. In elevating the Mavericks to playoff caliber, he's gone with the run-and-gun, put-it-up-quick offense that delights fans and keeps the hometown crowds cheering. And bet that he's beating the bushes for a big guy who can add some needed defense in the middle. Highly regarded for a history of taking low-round draft picks others should have selected earlier, he might soon find that last needed ingredient. Don't forget his best attribute: He works well with the psycho billionaire who owns the team. Which ain't as easy as it sounds. Which brings us to...
On any given Friday or Saturday night, you can join the cool kids from middle school once again. For $6.25 or less, don the brown and orange skates of yore and cut loose to the sounds of Cheap Trick, Vanilla Ice and J. Lo. You might even catch sight of a staffer or two clinging to the wall for stability and jealously eyeing the preteen speed-skaters. It's a helluva good workout (you'll realize how good when the aches hit the day after), and fret not, the Lucky Number game, the races and the Couple Skate live on here. Lace up and roll out.
Short of building a half-pipe or draining the pool in your own back yard, there aren't too many places anymore to skateboard in Dallas without needing a police lookout. Eisenbergs has the best layout for practicing anything from an ollie to a trick from Dogtown & Z-Boys. The park also offers amazing graffiti, live music, ramps for bikes, blades and boards and a reasonable admission fee. Parents can feel comfortable dropping the kids off or donning a pair of Etnies and trying it themselves...don't worry, they rent out helmets and kneepads.