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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Out for a drive
By the Times staff
Published April 19, 2007
It’s a tough job, but somebody had to do it. In order to better inform you, we left the office and scouted some area driving ranges. Which have the best deals? Which have the best surfaces? Which have the best overall atmosphere? Here’s what we found:
Ratings key Excellent: * * * * Poor : * *
Buckets & Balls Golf Range, Spring Hill 9209 County Line Road Large bucket: $6, 85 balls; extra-large: $8, 102 Surface: Mats Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Comment: The buckets are hand-filled. Our extra-large had 102 balls. The office is behind a Beef O'Brady's, and the counter worker is sometimes found there during business hours. All driving platform surfaces are AstroTurf. There is also an AstroTurf putting green behind the range. Rating: * *
Twin Brooks Golf Course, St. Petersburg 3800 22nd Ave. S Large bucket: $6, 74 balls Surface: Mats Hours: 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Comment: Uses limited- flight range balls, so don't be annoyed when your 300-yard drive travels only 200. Rating: * *
Mangrove Bay Golf Course, St. Petersburg 875 62nd Ave. NE Large bucket: $6, 73 balls Surface: Grass Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Comment: Pay next to the range. The small area can get crowded. Rating: * * *
Missing Links Driving Range, Largo 1201 East Bay Drive Medium bucket: $7 ($1 extra to hit on grass), 75 balls; large: $8.75, 125 Surface: Mats and grass Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Comment: A dollar extra to hit off grass? And you have to hitch a ride on a cart to the other end of the range. Rating: * * *
Countryside Golf Center, Clearwater 2987 McMullen Booth Road Large bucket: $7 (charge cards only for purchases over $10), 84 balls Surface: Plenty of mats, small area of grass Hours: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday; 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Comment: Could use more grass area, and the Putt-Putt course in front of the range is chewed up and useless. Rating: * * *
Tampa Bay Downs Driving Range, Oldsmar 11225 Racetrack Road Large bucket: $8 (called a quarterhorse) Surface: Grass Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday; 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday Comment: The quarterhorse was supposed to have 80 balls, but our machine unloaded 129, a thoroughbred bucket. Manicured grass and greens, along with a cover for rainy days, were added bonuses. Rating: * * * *
Ace Golf Range and Pro Shop, Tampa 7951 W Linebaugh Ave. Large bucket: $9.50, 120 balls (counted to advertised number) Surface: Grass and mats Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday Comment: Turf is great except after a rain, which can make the area soggy. Mats are available. Large portable coverings available when the sun is too intense. Balls are in solid condition. Pro shop isn't bad either, offering a variety of balls and equipment at decent prices. Rating: * * *
Terrace Hill Golf Club and Driving Range, Temple Terrace 7740 Temple Terrace Highway Large bucket: $10, 112 balls (two over advertised number) Surface: Grass and mats Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Saturday through Sunday. Lights turned off at 10:30. Comment: Can hit on grass or under a huge mobile covering. Mats available under permanent structured covering. Large putting green behind the range. Balls are usually in good condition. Grass is sometimes patchy, but there's always enough good turf to get some practice in. Nine-hole, lighted executive course. Rating: * * *
Lexington Oaks, Wesley Chapel 26140 Lexington Oaks Blvd. Buckets: $2 (20 balls), $4 (40) and $6 (60). Surface: Grass Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pro shop closes at 7, but tokens for ball machine can be purchased at the restaurant. Comment: Aquatic driving range makes it fun to aim for floating buoys, but those with a hook beware - the fairway on No. 1 looms nearby. Rating: * * * *
Plantation Palms, Land O'Lakes 23253 Plantation Palms Blvd. Bucket: $6, 45 balls Surface: Grass Hours: 7 a.m., last bucket sold at 6 p.m. Comment: Spacious range as you hit into rolling hills. Bonus points for an immaculate putting green that looked airlifted in from Augusta National, and a chipping green. Rating: * * *
Times staff writers John C. Cotey and Scott Purks and correspondent Derek Lariviere contributed to this report.