Feb 14, 2017

Brad Gillies golf.jpgBy Craig Rybczynski -- Rochester Knighthawks players Brad Gillies, Dan Lomas, Joel Matthews and Luke Laszkiewicz took time out of their workout schedules to play the front nine at Pebble Beach.

The foursome, however, didn’t have to take a private jet to the west coast to play one of the world’s most famous golf courses on Feb. 7. Instead, they shot a round in the aboutGolf indoor golf simulator at 4 Performance- Sport, Fitness, Recovery, Lifestyle.

“It’s rainy and cold outside; it’s no fun out there,” said Matthews. “It’s nice to get in here in this amazing facility. They have opened it up to us for the day. We’re very appreciative.”

On a 34-degree, rainy day in Rochester, the players enjoyed the comforts of 4 Performance in Winton Place. Complete with rock music and a gallery full of front office staff and players, the afternoon of golf rivaled any day at an outdoor course.

4 Performance Owner Ryan Steenberg gave the Knighthawks an introduction to the aboutGolf simulator. Little did they realize that Steenberg was last year’s runner-up at the World Long Drive Championships held in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The hulking 33-year-old, whose physique resembles that of Knighthawks goalie Matt Vinc, blasted shots in the high 300-yard range before eclipsing the 400-yard mark to the amazement of the professional lacrosse players.

“Watching Ryan smash the ball 400 yards was pretty impressive,” said Laszkiewicz. “It’s pretty amazing to see firsthand.” “I have never seen anything like that,” added Matthews. “It’s something you have to see with your own eyes. You can’t explain it.”

Once the Knighthawks took their turn, Matthews showed off his golf skills in the early going as he birdied the first hole by sinking an improbable put. After a prolonged celebration indicative of Shooter McGavin from “Happy Gilmore,” Matthews contemplated – although briefly – a life as a pro golfer.

“After the 49-foot birdie I’m thinking I should go pro, but I think I will just stick with lacrosse,” he said with a smirk.

But Matthews wasn’t the only Knighthawk to demonstrate his propensity for golfing. Defenseman/transition man Brad Gillies, who has golfed in a simulator before, was the most consistent hitter and started his day off with a drive of 283 yards on the par four first hole. The Oakville, Ontario native finished the round with a team-best 41.

Gillies summed up his first experience hitting in the official golf simulator of the PGA Tour, which provided players with numerical feedback on their club and ball speed.

“It’s been a blast to be able to get out of the rain and cold weather today and play a few holes of golf with my buddies,” he said. “It was a great time.”

Not to be outdone was Knighthawks rookie Dan Lomas, who has been tearing up the NLL since making his debut on Jan. 7. In five games, the Burlington, Ontario native is tied for third on the team in goals and tied for fourth in points. Lomas showed that he is also deadly with a golf club. In fact, he outdrove his teammates by belting a shot 310 yards on the sixth hole, which led to an eagle.

“It was definitely unexpected,” said Lomas, who finished second with a 48. “I think I got a little bit of a member’s bounce, but it was fun. Now I get to hold that over the guys.”

The Knighthawks played one of the most popular courses in the aboutGolf simulator, which also includes St. Andrews and Spyglass. But you don’t have to be a professional athlete to book time at 4 Performance.

“You can reserve a tee time like you would normally do on the course,” said Steenberg. “I’ll set you up, get the software going, get the music rocking and you are off playing golf when there is five feet of snow on the ground.”

The facility offers private golf instruction and currently houses FORE Champions, which is western New York’s premier Junior Golf developmental program. Golfers can also work with Steenberg on golf-specific training.

“It’s practice all year round. You can come here to work on your technique and the mechanics of your golf swing,” said Steenberg. “But we also can combine the fitness aspect. That’s what I do. I am a golf strength and conditioning coach. I identify what the body needs to produce a good, functional, efficient and powerful golf swing.”

Who better to learn from than from a man who drove a ball 412 yards at the World Long Drive Championships. On Feb. 7, Steenberg was able to share his love for golf with members of the Knighthawks.

“The Knighthawks are great,” he said. “It’s always a blast when I can connect with a local professional team, come in here and share my passion with them. It’s fun to watch professional athletes attempt golf.”

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