TALK DOESN'T COOK RICE: Loosen up that golf, tennis swing sans the seasonal chill

Just mentioning the words golf or tennis conjures up images of warm sunshine, green grass and long evenings — in other words, images contrary to November through April in Pennsylvania.

But spring is just around the corner — or the corner after that (or definitely the corner after that), and it’s the perfect time to get a jump on golf and tennis.

I had no idea that golf could be an indoor sport, but there is a place in town where golf season never ends. Whether you’re a scratch golfer, a contented hacker or a complete novice, Fairways and Greens, on South Atherton Street, not only is a pro shop but also a golf course — of sorts.

The shop is home to two golf simulators, which allows you to drive, chip and putt your way around dozens of well-known courses without ever having to walk the length of one fairway or navigate a golf cart.

If you’ve never seen a simulator, it’s pretty cool. You stand on some perfectly manicured artificial grass and slam the ball from the tee into a wall-sized screen that is projecting the golf scene in front of you. The computer automatically gives you all the stats you need, including analyzing your shot and setting you up for the next one. The driving and chipping are as realistic as could be expected, and while the putting is not as representative of the real thing, you can still get a feel for that new putter.

The staff is happy to offer you tips on your game, and although they prefer you have your own clubs, they do have loaner clubs available for novices to try.

While the simulator might be best for those honing their game, it might also be the perfect golf substitute for those who either find the physical toll of 18 holes, with the hills and hot weather, too taxing or just prefer to play indoors.

If you’re more interested in swinging a racquet than a club, the Penn State tennis center offers indoor court rentals for the general public at times when the courts are not being used for varsity practice.

Simply grab a friend or three (because you might want to play doubles until you shed the winter weight gain and get your court speed back) and hit the courts. If you need a little more help with your game — or want to get an advantage on your summer nemesis — splurge and pay for a couple of private lessons.

While indoor tennis and golf both make for great preparation for the upcoming season, there is one problem: You can’t blame your poor performance on the wind, the sun being in your eyes, the burden of carrying the clubs all day, the heat, the cold, the uneven turf ...

Sherry Coven can be reached at cdtweekender@centredaily.com.