Launch Golf – Toronto, ON

How do you define sport? Nascar, poker, fantasy hockey – it seems like a relevant question on this journey.

Well today’s quest comes with some controversy.

Roughly eight years ago my dad, some of his friends and I went to a place just west of York University called Launch Golf. It’s a three story building where you stand inside under the comfort of a heater, but your balls fly out into an open field – you can be warm and dry while breathing fresh-air and saying you love nature.

Last time we went Launch was fairly new – it was high-class and even though it was winter they took the time to plow the field. Why plow a driving range’s field? Because Launch was more than a driving range, it was its own game.

Launch’s “range” has a giant grid covering it, with each area of the grid measuring about 10 square metres. You pick up a scorecard and it has instructions on it for either distance shots or accuracy shots. The card will tell you to hit for square “3E”, and you get points based on how close your shot comes to the target.

I remembered having a great time eight years ago, and thinking it was almost too fancy – eerily similar to my thoguhts the first time I saw Jurassic Park. Well, like Jurassic Park, putting a new spin on an old classic seems to have led to chaos and stale food.

When we showed up last week, they didn’t have score cards, the lines on the field had completely faded – it was basically a covered driving range.

“Ahh well” we thought, it’s a lazy man’s night. We ordered some beverages, some wings, and some nachos which were icky and had to be exchanged for more wings. What I am hoping is that we attended at the end of their slow season, and that Launch continually runs into its prime in the deep of winter.

This has led me to my first philosophical problem as a gymineer – I am here to introduce people to sports, show how fun they are and how easy it is to get into them – I am not here to review businesses. But what happens when a business is the only way to access that sport? Such is the case with Launch.

Despite falling a bit short of its glory days, the night was far from a loss. I learned that if you take two competitive spirits and set aside time for a game, it doesn’t matter where you are, sport finds a way.

On this fine evening; our clubs, a giant tub of balls and a bucket 60 yards away provided all the equipment we needed. We spent the better part of 2 hours and 600 bals trying to be the first to get a ball in the bucket.

Optimism never faded, but our skill never caught up. It was a game of inches that defeated us, as ball after ball would fall short, go long, or bounce off the outside of the plastic bucket. Oh the frustration.

If you feel like giving Launch a go this winter, check the links page for its contact info (same goes for anywhere else I’ve been). The nachos may not be the best, but you can eat them while you play. If that’s a priority for you, keep this place in mind.