A driving range is an area where golfers go to practice. The great benefit of a range is that you can enjoy a degree of privacy (your own ‘bay’), and you don’t have to go and pick up all the balls you’ve hit afterwards!
WHAT TO FIND AT THE RANGE
Most ranges have individual bays, with a mat and a rubber tee if you want to use that. Many are undercover and heated, so can be used in bad weather. There are all types and sizes of range – multi-tier bays, floodlights. The most technologically-advanced ranges now have automated ball-retrieval systems (so that you don’t have to try to watch your ball amongst the many thousand already out there) and self-loading tees, so that whilst you are watching one shot, another ball is set up ready for your next one. Some have a practice bunker and a special short-game area, including a putting green.
Ranges do not normally require a membership of any sort. You pay your ‘fee’ by buying a basket of balls to hit.
One sad fact of life is that many golfers – at whatever level – have absolutely no idea how to practice effectively. A session at the range often consists of buying a bucket of balls, then trying to reach the back fence with the biggest club in their bag – or at least to smash the ball out of sight to impress the person in the next bay. This is a pity, because a structured programme of goals to achieve with each visit to a range can be one of the best opportunities for serious practice offered to a golfer.
Make a point of when to go out and practice a particular element of the programme before moving on to the next activity.
Visiting a range for the first time
There is nothing worse than being called back publicly because you have tried to get in with a full golf bag – or had everyone in the place picking up your golf balls because no-one told you to put a basket under the outlet before you put your token in the machine!
Most people know of the location of a driving range in their area – often these are in very accessible locations near main road junctions. What is much less known is that a lot of golf clubs have a range which is open to the public. Sometimes these lack the sophistication of the stand-alone driving range, but often make up for this by being closer to hand, quieter and probably less expensive. Give your club a call and find out.