What makes a good driving range?
What makes a good driving range? is a short golf blog post outlining the must-haves of a driving range.
I have recently sent questionnaires out to several golfers both amateur and professional. These questionnaires simply asked, What makes a good driving range?
Years ago the idea behind a driving range was far superior to just having a practice ground. A practice ground was a strip of land that was supplied by the golf club where you could go with a bag of your own golf balls and hit back & forth to your heart’s content. There were no distance markers or targets to aim at. It was just a piece of grassed land.
Then many moons ago the driving range was born.
Typically around 250 yards long, the old driving ranges were somewhere that you could go to practice your game. They would supply the balls at a small cost. That cost would cover collecting and cleaning the balls, electricity, water, and staff costs plus cutting the range on a weekly basis. There would be a few distance markers, usually 50m, 100m, 150m, 200m. Most of the ranges were just 3–6 undercover bays with mats to hit off.
Then some driving ranges started to build greens & bunkers as targets. More distance markers were added and even a practice bunker.
Nowadays the golfer expects more from a driving range, but there are what the golfers call “the basics” that every driving range must-have.
I have outlined the most important points below as a list form. Remember, these are the answers from randomly chosen golfers who wish to remain anonymous. They are also listed in no particular order.
1. Good quality range balls.
This is, by far, the most common answer. Sadly lots of driving ranges don’t renew their range balls often enough or use a poor quality range ball.
2. Good mats or turf to hit from.
Too many driving ranges forget to rotate their mats on a regular basis. The ranges that offer hitting areas from turf are the most popular for golfers. The average golfer is put off if told to hit from the mats.
3. Enough targets.
The golfers’ answers included adding more realistic targets, similar to what is found on the golf course.
Greens, Distance flags, bunkers, water hazards. Golfers also mentioned circular target nets & bins.
4. Friendly Professional Staff.
Golfers like to feel welcome and appreciated. The staff needs to be approachable and friendly, yet professional.
PGA Golf Professionals & assistants are vitally important to any facility. They must also offer lessons to everybody.
5. Outdoor bays & Indoor (undercover) bays.
The golfers like a choice depending on the weather.
6. A well maintained & clean facility.
The public demands cleanliness and a fresh look. A well-maintained range is looked after and doesn’t look dated. This can be as simple as painting, weeding, supplying enough rubbish bins, etc.
Golfers need to rest and take a seat. Some like to take a timeout to work out what is wrong with their game. A comfortable seat can make a huge difference to a golfer’s experience.
8. Enough space.
Driving ranges with lots of space in each bay tend to be more popular with families. They feel safer in larger areas.
Lots of golfers fear that they will hit the bay dividers, walls, or someone!
9. Information Boards.
Golfers need to know the distances to all of the targets from every bay. They also like to read up on what’s on at the range. Lesson prices, group sessions, Fun / social evenings, competitions, etc.
10. Value for money.
According to the answers that I received back from the questionnaires, the price must reflect the facilities on offer.
People will not practice if the facility is poor, run-down & unloved.
An excellent facility can demand more money to use it.
Toilet facilities are a must-have at a driving range.
12. Snack bar /Cafe or a machine.
Golfers like to have a drink before or after their session. A chance to socialise with their friends, in comfort or even just a water dispenser, on the range, to help them quench their thirst after their exercise.
13. Well-lit areas.
Some driving ranges can be a little scary on an evening due to a feeling of not being safe. A well-lit path, to and from the car park and well-lit facility and bays makes all the difference.
14. A good choice of tees.
Several sized rubber tees for the mats or normal tees for the turfed areas can be a huge deal-breaker. There is nothing worse than not having the right height tees to practice off.
15. A shop facility.
Lots of golfers would like to try out the latest equipment. Demo days were an important criterion. Simply having a shop where the golfers could buy a glove or some tees for the range came up often as I was sifting through the finished questionnaires.
They also mentioned the opportunity to purchase more balls at the range, instead of walking a long-distance or even having to drive back to the shop in their car.
16. Little disturbance.
A lot of the questionnaires came back with the same answer. A good bay is designed to have as little distraction from other golfers as possible.
The modern-day golfer demands more technology. The possibility to hire a Trackman for an hour can be a huge asset.
Some driving ranges have the Trackman range facility which is already built-in and ready to go. Any kind of ball flight simulation or tracker is now a must on any range.
18. Mirrors or training aids.
Full-length wall mirrors are a simple inexpensive addition to a driving range. Some ranges also offer their customers the opportunity to try out training aids that they can eventually then buy, afterward in the golf shop.
What is your opinion of this list? Have we missed something off the list?
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