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Top seven things to look for in the ideal practice facility

When they’re productive, golf practice sessions can be amazingly helpful to your golf game. At a growing number of practice facilities today, that experience can deliver much, much more. With gamified and more efficient technology, better retails and, increasingly, great food and beverage options, many of today’s driving ranges are light years ahead of what they were a decade ago.


Getting better on the range means more than aimlessly slapping range balls until the bucket is empty, but rather thoughtfully hitting shots and taking swings with specific targets, swing functions and session goals in mind. To do that, you need to make sure you’re doing it in the right place for you. What to look for? Here are some tips:

1) A place where you can work on all aspects of your game. Even Tiger Woods and Scottie Scheffler practice both their long and short games. Every part of your game can use work, despite how great your driving or putting may have been in your last round. Look for a place with a good chipping and putting green. Ideally, you’ll find someplace that’s convenient, quiet and spacious enough to work on your drives right down to your chips and putts in each session. Somewhere to devote more time to your actual session rather than to commuting there and back. Targets are crucial, too. Having good quality targets so you can dial in a variety of yardages will help you use the feedback of seeing the ball land to the proper distance and ultimately make you a more accurate shot maker.

2) Using good-quality balls is paramount. If you’re hitting balls that are water-logged, cut or plain dead, it’s doing you no favors because you won’t get proper feedback on performance or feel. A live ball will travel much differently and more accurately than a dead one. Make sure the balls are blemish-free and fresh.

3) Friendly and knowledgeable staff who can teach good lessons and possibly do clubfitting. This may be more important than you imagine. Once you get to know the staff at a golf facility, they may well just watch you hit some balls and offer a tip or two while passing by. But all the while, they will get to know your game, and you will get comfortable talking with them about it. And when it comes time to upgrade the clubs in your bag, you can trust that these same people have your best interests in mind. Even if you think you’ll never need a lesson, you may be pleasantly surprised at how a passing tip or suggestion may benefit your game.

4) The latest technology. For maximum efficiency at the range, you should use a tee enhanced with Power Tee, which automatically tees up every ball to your desired height — providing you with auto-teed, perfect lies, and the best hitting surfaces available. It makes practicing about 30 percent more efficient because you're not wasting time bending down to pick up the next ball, teeing up the balls, or looking for decent lies.

Going deeper into golf technology, using technology such as Toptracer and TrackMan Range can help transform a bucket of balls into a trove of information about your swing, tendencies, strengths, and areas to work on. They use radar and camera-based launch monitors to quantify all of the data you need to improve your game.

You can use all of these tech components to gamify your range time and enhance the fun factor for your entire family. 

5) Social components. A lot of golfers prefer peace and quiet on the range, as that’s close to what they will experience out on a golf course. But there are many golf facilities around these days that pipe in music at the range, and even create events around them typically on nights and weekends. Events at places such as Bellair Golf Park in Glendale, Ariz. offer social-oriented trivia nights on the range. The “golf lite” themed range at The Golf Ranch in Brookfield, Conn. is all about hanging out with friends, drinking a few beers, and working on your game – many golfers prefer this fun type of environment to a standard type of range – finding it more engaging. Plus, it’s a great way to make sure others in your life – your kids, spouse, or even a date – enjoy learning to play golf – what better than to have your loved ones share your hobby? 

6) Covered spaces or bays. This is really for those of you living in colder or frequently wet weather locations. Using covered tees – or even covered and heated tees – lets you practice in almost any weather conditions. Imagine keeping your swing in mid-season shape all winter long. That really will help your game excel come springtime, when you can hit the ground running. 

7) Quality hitting conditions. Wherever you hit balls and work on your game, don’t waste any time hitting out of divots and hardpan. Hitting shots off of terrible, chewed-up lies can not only be frustrating and time-consuming, it can also be counterproductive to your progress. Practice where you can have a productive session off of good lies.

If the range has mats, are the mats old or worn out? That will not only feel unrealistic, it could also be uncomfortable, or even damaging, to your joints. Are there targets to aim at? If so, do they have distances marked on them? Are you always hitting into or with the wind at a particular location? In a perfect world, you want it to be a quality facility where you can improve and feel more confident about your game, as you hit balls.

Look for a location that has Power Tee units so you can ensure that each hitting session is done on a quality surface with ideal lie conditions on every shot, and the ability to stay in your practice groove (thanks to auto-teeing). Shots hit on Power Tee are gentle on your joints and your golf clubs thanks to the well-constructed and cushioned hitting mats. Having practice time with ideal lie conditions and quality feedback can do wonders for your game. Learn more at