Baseball season is long and grueling. You’ll have good days at the ballpark, and you’ll almost certainly have your bad days as well. For that reason, a select group of players and coaches from the Rainiers have developed an interesting hobby that can distance themselves from the ballpark.
Well, not that far away.
Whenever Rainiers’ pitcher Ryan Garton and a select group of players and coaches want to get away from the ballpark and the game they play for a living, they travel two miles away from Cheney Stadium to Allenmore Golf Course, where Garton tries to go out after every Rainiers day game.
“It gets me away from the game, I enjoy it and the competition,” Garton said. “I think I’m better than the average person, but nowhere near as good as people on the tour or whatever.”
The pitcher from Clearwater, Florida, played his college ball at Florida Atlantic University, where he first started playing golf regularly and taking it more seriously than he had growing up. Though, he did credit his mother who went out on the golf course a lot when he was a kid.
“My mom golfs a lot,” Garton said. “I always liked it, but the older I got the more I enjoy how I feel out there on the course. It’s relaxing, it’s also fun, it’s a sport on the side that doesn’t mean as much in my life, but it’s great therapy to de-stress and decompress about everything.”
But Garton isn’t the only one. He’ll always try and grab someone to come out and play with him to keep it competitive. He likes to take on pitching coach Lance Painter, and other players on the team who might want to challenge him.
He’s developed a pretty good rivalry with Painter when they play together.
“I beat him the first time but he’s beat me twice now,” Garton said. “But the one time he beat me, he careered it, so he shot better than he ever has in his life, and last time he was keeping score and I’m pretty sure he was cheating on the side. I think we’re pretty evenly matched.”
But normally, the players and coaches play separately, at least according to manager Daren Brown. He says that sometimes the players and coaches need a chance to get away from each other sometimes and that golf is a good chance to escape from life at the ballpark.
“I haven’t played with any of them,” Brown said. “I spend all day with them here, I don’t want to go out on the golf course and have them fire golf balls at me.”
Garton, of course, says that has nothing to do with why Brown hasn’t played him yet.
“He doesn’t want to play me because he’ll know I’ll beat him,” Garton joked. “It has nothing to do with him getting away, that’s pure malarkey.”
But at the end of the day, that’s what it is about for both Garton and Brown, and the rest of the players and coaches who participate. It’s a way for everyone to do what they love to do, compete among one another, in a low stakes environment, and enjoy the weather and decompress after a long day at the ballpark.
“You can do that here,” Brown said. “It stays light until 9:30 most days, so it just gets you away from the ballpark, and when you’re done early, you get away and have a little fun.”