Tips on Opening a New Golf Driving Range

By M.L. Rose
Golfers can work the kinks out of their swings at a driving range.
Golfers can work the kinks out of their swings at a driving range.

Driving ranges allow golfers to warm up for a round, to practice their existing skills or to work on new techniques. A driving range may simply consist of a few or several teeing areas facing an open field, but some driving range facilities include elaborate entertainment centers. There are many options to consider when you open a new driving range.

Location

If you’re building a new range, location is an important factor. If you locate the range near office buildings, for example, you may wish to open earlier than normal, and remain open well into the evening, so the local workforce can hit a bucket of balls before or after they go to the office. You may also wish to offer a special weekday rate for a meal plus a small bucket of balls so the workers can play during their lunch breaks. If you locate in a residential area, it may be wise to offer some family-friendly amenities to encourage parents to bring their children.

Safety

Make sure your safety precautions are in place before opening your range. At the very least you’ll need barriers between each tee to prevent shanks from striking neighboring players. Unless your range is completely isolated you’ll also need nets on the sides of the range to catch extreme hooks and slices.

Handling Cash and Dispensing Balls

Choose how you’ll handle cash and whether you’ll accept credit and debit cards. This decision goes hand-in-hand with the question of how many employees you’ll have. You can have employees handling cash, or you can partially automate your range by purchasing ball-dispensing machines that accept money -- cash, credit cards or both -- then spit out the appropriate number of balls. Some dispensers accept only tokens, which must be purchased from an attendant over the counter.

Operating Schedule

Choose the hours and days of operation. This will be based in part on the times when your customers are likely to play. The decision also depends on the number of people you hire: The longer your hours, the more employees you’ll require. You may wish to install lights to remain open later in the day. If so, consider serving more than just pizza and hot dogs, if you have a food area, so players can combine golf with dinner. Consider adding heated tees to expand your season if you live in a colder climate.

Add Special Features

Many driving ranges offer much more than just a field surrounded by tees and covered in cheap, striped golf balls. Adding one or more putting or chipping greens allows players to practice their short games. You can even place a bunker or two around a green so your customers can work on sand shots. A driving range can be a handy place to employ some golf pros to offer lessons, and you can have a full pro shop and permit players to sample clubs on the range before buying. The range can also be the centerpiece of a sports center that includes baseball batting cages, a miniature golf course and a go-kart track. If you’re catering to families, consider adding video games and including enough space for children's parties.

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

Photo Credits

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