Top 5 Driving Range Must Haves

Top 5 Driving Range Must Haves

4 minute read.

With so many products, gadgets and services on offer to the range owner, the true focus of the driving range can all too easily become clouded. As with most things in life, if it looks complicated, bring it back to basics: what do customers want from the driving range? Here are the top five must haves, a close runner up, and some costly misconceptions.

Must Haves

Amtech Range plastic 60 ball basket for the golf driving range

1 . Quality Balls - The whole point of the driving range is to practice consistency. The golfer needs to believe that they can land the ball on the same sixpence, with that same club, every single time.

Quite simply, the ball is the most important tool on the range. A range that has poor quality balls, or a mish-mash of one piece, two piece and salvage lake balls, simply cannot offer shot consistency. To create a facility for proper practice, you want a ball that will behave the same as a tournament ball every single time.

 

Comfortable Range Mats

2. Comfortable Mats - A range mat has to be all things to all men, a strong all rounder (hands up if you just thought about Ian Botham). It has to work for the scratch pro and equally for the newbie hacker. It should be forgiving and shock absorbent, to avoid any wrist injury from those fat shots that bury the club head into the mat and snap the shaft. It should be tough and resilient: no one wants to play off a threadbare mat. But most importantly, it just has to feel right.

Plenty of golf suppliers will sell you cheap mats, where no thought is given to the technicalities that make a mat great. But if you want to get it right, there are some great options available at fair prices.

LED MAX Range Light

3. Great Lighting - If you're a golfer who has to work all day for a living, then chances are your practice sessions are going to be after sunset for half of the year. In which case, you're going to need a well lit range to see where your ball is landing. But as always, there is more to it than that.

You want great short game illumination for your chipping practice. You need it to pick up the high balls from your steep irons. You also want to see your long, low drives as they bounce over the end fence and onto the motorway. Basically, if the ball leaves the cone of light, the eye will not pick it up again when it comes back down. So ideally, your range lighting will be able to work with every type of shot.

Golf Range Target Nets

4. Interesting Targets - Let's face it, bashing 100 balls into a big green square isn't particularly riveting. You want something to aim at. Something to gauge distance. Something to land balls on, or bounce balls off.

These days, the outfield should be bright, colourful, fun. Gone are the days of bedraggled targets hanging off their frame, flapping listlessly in the wind. Now you can have personalised, vivid targets that hold their colour and don't fall apart. You can have big chunky barber poles, like giant flag pins. And they will love you for it. There's no excuse now for a dreary, soviet style range.

 

Inrange

5. Gaming & Practice Technology - A new entry into the top five, bay technology has boomed over the last few years. It is not for every golfer, some just want to swing away in the solitude of a quiet corner. But there is no doubt that in-bay on-screen gaming and practice has increased range footfall significantly. For the commercial range at least, it will eventually be the case that you either get on board with it, or you give up and go home.

There are a few options available out there. Foresight have some popular single bay systems. Toptracer are the market leader for multi-bay systems, mostly due to the lower cost of their camera based platform. The radar based systems from the likes of Inrange and Trackman are technically superior, more accurate, and work better in poor visibility, but the trade off is a higher price tag. All great fun though, and getting people into golf who would otherwise never have considered stepping into a stuffy clubhouse.

 

Runner Up


Bay Heaters

Bay Heaters - Remember when we used to have cold winters? With snow and ice? In those days, you needed a good bay heater roasting your back while you settled into your stance. Infrared is the way to go, the heat doesn't blow away in the wind and they use a lot less power.

 

 

Costly Misconceptions

1. Automated Tee Ups - "I want to wait for an ugly, unreliable robot to put each ball on the tee, so that I can immediately drag it off and play straight from the mat."

No one is entirely sure how the the tee up machine ever caught on. No golfer ever asked for them. They are expensive, they tie you into endless contracts, and any mechanical device that the customer has to interact with is bound to be abused and wrecked. If you enjoy pulling chip papers and beer cans out of your ball hoppers every day, then maybe they are for you.

But if you have 10 bays, and fifty grand to spruce them up, would you rather spend it on Tee Ups or Toptracer? That's a rhetorical question, it's Toptracer obviously.

2. Tee Boxes - From time to time, people may try to convince you that customers won't practice at your venue if they have to walk ten steps to get their own balls from a dispenser, like they have done for fifty years.

No, no, no. You must spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on glorified ball crates, that take up half of each bay, and you will have to spend several hours per day, every day, manually filling them up with golf balls. Yes that's right, you need to abandon all your labour saving machines that faithfully wash and lift your balls into the dispenser in a matter of minutes, and replace them with forty hours of back breaking labour every week.

If this ever happens to you, simply reply "No thanks, I don't want to keel over at work and go bankrupt. Get off my property."