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Sports & Recreation

Best Driving Range 

Mission Bay Golf Center

1200 Sixth St. (at Channel), 431-7888,

Urban golfers pack this China Basin range well into the night. The two-story steel-and-concrete contraption has 66 bays of fake grass, some with plastic tees to set your ball upon, most without. I-280 roars overhead with a sound not unlike, say, the crashing surf at Pebble Beach. There are plenty of ashtrays. The grass fairway is wide and long, with nine angled greens; beyond the twin flags at 250 yards it frames two pieces of remarkably boxlike modern architecture. Adjoining the range is the Backburner Roadhouse, for lunch and beer. A bucket of balls costs $8. "This is the most unpretentious golf course I've ever been to," our friend said on a recent visit, which is only half true, because there is no course. The pro shop is as intimidating as the best of them, staffed by men in golf khaki who share the quiet, commanding presence of those who can really hit a ball.


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