Paintball At Golf Learning Center: Fun For The Whole Family

 
 
 
 
Paintball At Golf Learning Center: Fun For The Whole Family
By Greg Perreault
 
Family is what life is all about — and one great way for families to grow together is to shoot each other with paintballs, explained paintball instructor Bob Moral.“I’ve had grandfathers come out here and play,” Moral said. “Here on Friday night, I had a bunch of fathers and sons who came out to play.”Paintball is a game in which teams of players shoot capsules filled with water-soluble dye at each other, simulating combat. A high-tech version of the children’s game “capture the flag,” the game was first played in New Hampshire in 1981 with pistols designed to mark trees and other objects from a distance. The first tournament with a cash prize was held in 1983, and interest in the sport and equipment to play it have grown ever since.

Moral has been playing paintball since 1986, when only about 60 teams competed for the Paintball Sports Promotions World Cup. Now the sport has paid referees, ESPN coverage and is a game the entire family can play.

In 1988, Moral’s paintball team competed for $20,000 in the Big Apple Open, which was the world championship at the time. The result was a two-way tie, which was upheld even after a two-on-two tie-breaking shootout with a team from California.

The former PSP World Cup winner moved to Loxahatchee three years ago and since then has advised the staff of the Golf Learning Center, which has transformed its nine-hole golf course into a paintball field. The majority of paintball players at the Golf Learning Center are teenagers, but there are plenty of adults who play as well.

Out of all the places Moral has played, he said the Golf Learning Center is the best. “I’ve got to say, without any prejudice, this is the best one I’ve ever seen,” Moral said. “When people hear about it, their jaw drops because they can’t believe what they’re seeing here.”

The irrigation system that made the Golf Learning Center a great golf course has made it a unique paintball field, said Jeff Simke, the director of the Golf Learning Center and a former caddy to Jack Nicklaus. The dye solution in paintballs fosters mildew, but the irrigation system flushes the dye out and keeps the grass fresh. Most paintball fields are dirt, sand or wood mulch.

“The facility we have here is really perfect for the paintball operation,” Simke said.

Simke said the Golf Learning Center offers three kinds of fields: a wooded playing area and two recreational fields full of man-made obstacles. One of the recreation fields is filled with tires, 50-gallon drums and cable spools, while the other field features an inflatable bunker.

Simke noted that the new Friday Night Under the Lights event is also unique. He only knows of one other place in the entire country that has a similar event.

At Friday Night Under the Lights, players don’t have to deal with the heat, the playing experience is enhanced by lights and shadows, and the action can be viewed in comfort from the air-conditioned clubhouse, said Carl Syben, general manager of paintball at the Golf Learning Center.

The Friday Night Under the Lights events draw about 50 players and about twice as many spectators.

The majority of paintball players are young, and Moral said the most rewarding thing he does is work with them. But he doesn’t just teach youth to play paintball — he helps them learn to read, write and solve arithmetic.

Moral also operates the home-schooling support organization Family Tree Ministries, which provide parents with support materials, tutors and documentation for home-schooling families. The organization started with 54 kids and now serves more than 250. For more information, visit http://www.familytreeprivateschool.com.

Moral and his wife Nancy have home-schooled all three of their children. “From early on, I’ve thought the public education was lacking,” he said. “Everyone thinks it’s going to get better in the system, but it’s not going to get better. The basis of it starts at home. Being a Christian, I feel God has given me the responsibility to educate my children.”

The Golf Learning Center is located at 16169 Southern Blvd. in Loxahatchee Groves. Although much of it has been converted to paintball use, the business still offers miniature golf and a driving range. The center operates from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday Night Under the Lights is held every Friday at 8 p.m., and there is a field fee of $20. Players older than 10 are invited to participate and spectators are welcome. Paintball equipment is available for rent.

For more information call (561) 790-5270. To schedule a private lesson with Bob Moral, call (954) 410-2483. Individual instruction is $35 per hour, and team instruction is $85 per hour.

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