Good wood and a grassy turf

The night’s heat is bearable; a slight warm wind brushes the young girl’s hair in the way that only seems right in the 2 a.m. hour of a summer night. Her boyfriend sits next to her, finishing off his third bootleg Budweiser, calmly tucking it out of sight when security wanders by. Unaware of or simply unconcerned about the small family standing 20 feet away, the young man pulls out his wood, letting it lean against his thigh, while his girlfriend gently cups one of his smooth balls. Grasping the base of his wood with her small hands, she hesitates for a brief minute before bringing it up over her head and swinging with all her might. A sharp whack fills the night and sends the white sphere sailing into the air and bouncing on the grass almost 200 feet away.

“Good shot, honey.”

Intermittent whacks follow as other golfers send their balls careening through the night air, risking collisions with moths and bats. Even long after midnight on a Friday night, the Haggin Oaks Driving Range’s 100 stalls are almost completely filled with families, teens and groups of friends who’ve come out to get some practice while avoiding the summer heat.

Open 24 hours from May through September, Haggin Oaks has in recent years begun to resemble the social setting of a drive-in movie theater. With a snack bar and music pumped out over loudspeakers, it’s a popular hangout, where people can gather with friends, get a little exercise, drink some beer and smoke a little pot, and end the night not having spent more than $10 a person.

That’s right. At first this new scene’s contradictions are confusing; we’ve come to expect smuggled alcohol, third-date petting and a little bit of weed smoke at the drive-in or outside a dingy bar, but the brightly lit and expertly groomed putting course appears ostensibly too aristocratic to host such activities. However, upon second examination, you’ll discover that the small snack bar sells beer until 2 a.m., and the simple motion of hitting golf balls—an act requiring little effort but offering regular high-flying, glistening objects—screams stoner amusement.

Perhaps, with the inclusion of a new generation of golfers, these are the first signs of a new attitude toward the game. Or it could just be that nothing good is playing at the drive-in. Regardless, Haggin Oaks seems comfortably conducive to getting outside late at night and having some fun. Whether you choose the sober driver, or the drunken club, this is the only way to do golf in the dead of night.

And as for the pre-mating rituals now evident on the greens, well, that’s just something to do while it’s your buddy’s turn at the tee.