Overrated/Underrated: Range Balls

This might belong in the contrarian takes thread, but I am going underrated here. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing rounds of golf or even a few holes, if possible. I am not trying to make a comparative statement between playing the course and hitting balls on the range. But I noticed on the Scotland Trip podcast this week (7/24), to the person, the guys rip into hitting range balls and talk about how in Scotland no one has ranges. The implication seemed to be that Americans and our golf courses are dumb for having and maintaining driving ranges and they are unnecessary. I will make my case for driving ranges in a few points, but ultimately, I think they are great and good for the game in a lot of ways. In no particular order, here are a few reasons I like the range:

  1. I love just focusing in on hitting shots. Not even necessarily “practicing”, just hitting whatever shot I feel like. Different targets, different swings, just having fun trying all sorts of things. The variety in targets and options, things to aim at, trying to find different yardages with the same club, shot shape, etc. Its just fun to play the game, even if it is not on a course.
  2. I get “lost” on the range more easily on the course. Meaning I can zone out and just think about the shots and the swing and whatever else and it can be a great stress-reliever or just a relaxing time playing the game on the range.
  3. Time. As of now, I don’t belong to a club, so if I am going to play a round, generally I feel somewhat obligated to play either 9 or 18 and I have to set aside the time required. If I can fit some range time in an hour here or there, it’s a great way to find more time to play a game that is really time consuming.
  4. Money. Similar to the time thing, if you pay $30,$50,$100+, whatever it is to play a round, you are committed and quite obligated. Whereas you can go drop $8-20 depending on how much time you have and hit balls for a little bit or a long time, totally up to you.
  5. This is somewhat point number 1 and somewhat not, but I will certainly go out there sometimes to try and get better. I don’t have to the guy just grinding on the range for hours, but I certainly like to go out and try some new things and get more comfortable with my swing, etc. So practice is enjoyable as well.

Ultimately, while I understand that many courses obsess over finding a range on the property and fitting one in and that they are very expensive to maintain and upkeep, etc. I think a good range is really enjoyable and a big part of my enjoyment of golf. Even if they are not found at old historic courses in Scotland and if they were not an original part of the game, they are great and don’t deserve to be bashed like they were on the pod. Underrated.

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Overrated, I go to the Range maybe twice a summer and maybe 2 times over the winter and hit balls before probably 5% of my rounds

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I am a range crackhead. I can’t stand to play a round without hitting balls first. Have to see where I’m at for the day what move feels right etc. I can say without a shadow of a doubt the driving range has made me a better player. I struggled for a while with not being able to take my ranger rick game to the course, but over the last year or so I’ve really been able to take the range feel to the course. There’s something extremely satisfying about seeing a shot on the course that you’ve practiced over and over on the range, and executing it perfectly. Not to mention as OP said, I can get my golf fix in as little as 20-30 minutes on my way home from work if needed. That is such a life/mental plus. I think about golf ALOT haha… if I could only hit a golf ball when I played a round… man I don’t even want to think about that.

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I honestly don’t know why you wouldn’t want to hit balls and get in a warm up of hitting shots if you have time to? I understand people say they just stretch and do stuff to get loose, but it doesn’t make any sense why you wouldn’t want to at least see what kind of game you might have for the day. Would you really not warm up for a tournament? You ever see pro’s just stretching out and rolling to the tee without hitting balls? No, I don’t need a 1 1/2 hr warm up to go through every shot in the bag, but at least a wedge, 7 iron, 4 iron, driver, and then some chips and putts maybe. Unless you are showing up 5 min before your tee time I don’t understand why you wouldn’t hit balls.

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I can’t stand the range. A big open field does nothing for me. I draw my “feels” from the visual, the shot in front of me. Yeah I try to use posts or flags as targets I need to draw or fade around, or back to. But those shots never pan out or even feel right on the range. As a warm-up, eh ok. I’ll use it to loosen up for an early morning round, and sometimes it does help me figure out that first tee shot. But I still hate it.

I’d much rather mess around a practice green with a wedge all day.

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Range balls themselves are overrated.
Driving ranges are overrated.
Practice facilities are vastly underrated.

I truly think the typical American model of mats, a few pin flags, and huge driving range nets is a bit overrated. I really struggle with working on my game off a mat; totally fine for warm up before a round…but it is certainly not what I am looking for…

I absolutely LOVE a good practice facility. To me this means grass tees, a short game & chipping area, and a really nice (big) putting green. With that said, I live across the street from arguably one of the best practice facilities in the country. 26 acres, 360 degrees with 7 separate teeing areas, 3 short game areas including bunkers, 9 hole putting course. It’s associated with a private club but they sell annual memberships to the range alone. According to the club pro, they MAKE money on the practice range. Annual membership means unlimited range balls all year - open from April ~ October.

It’s an amazing place to work on your game…and have a lot of fun “playing” golf. As mentioned by @LJP , time is the biggest factor for me. I’m there almost every day in the summer for 20~30 minutes. I just don’t have the time to play 9 or 18 holes as often as I want; and this allows me to get in my golf fix.

I’ve often wondered if this model could successful as a stand alone facility…

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Going to the driving range is down time for me to relax and listen to podcasts and get a cup of cheap beer. I do not get any quality practice done at the range.

It happens to is attached to a bar. It’s not a Top Golf, but you can buy pitchers and there’s half-decent food.

I see the same people there all the time

Needing to hit range balls before a round is very overrated. Look at old golf courses and you’ll notice a trend…most have fairly easy first holes. The courses gradually become more difficult and that’s partly because the architect wanted to allow the golfer swings to get warmed up. There were no driving ranges, so you had to get lose while playing. Given the choice, sure, of course I’d like to warm up with some range balls (and I think most people would). But players these days who HAVE to hit 100 balls to get going are soft.

However, if you want to improve (or are on a budget), range balls are underrated. I don’t care who you are, you’re going to get better by hitting the range than by simply playing all the time. And similar to LJP’s point, I’m not a member at a club, so paying $6 to hit some balls is much more affordable than dropping $50 each time I want a golf experience.

Full shot driving range, yeah I could go either way on it. But kudos to @CaddieCoveralls for making the distinction. I think you see the private clubs start putting these short game range/practice areas in and when done well they are superb. Probably the best one I’ve seen is in my city, was funded by a local university for their men’s team, and has 4-5 real top-dressed green complexes w/ bunkering, and a giant field of fairway between all of them. Let’s you hit up to 120 yards or so into any of these greens, plus work around and on them (shout out Maketewah @Randy)

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I was thinking about this after I posted, because I forgot to mention anything about a warm-up and was trying to determine if warming up is part of the reason I like the range. Ultimately, I think the answer is “meh”. I don’t need to warm up before a round. If I am playing with new people and want to decrease the chance of embarrassing myself on the first tee, sure I will hit a few before going out. But ultimately, a warm up is not the reason why I like a good driving range. And to echo @CaddieCoveralls, I am totally IN on the idea of the practice facility, as opposed to just a traditional driving range if possible. I too need a golf “fix” more often than I can get one and a nice practice facility would really scratch that itch more often.

Unless you live in NYC. You are not hitting range balls for less than $30 at Chelsea Piers. Whenever I feel sad about moving to the burbs, I remind myself of that

If only for this Twitter thread, driving ranges are the greatest!

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I think driving ranges are a necessary evil at least for me. Obviously the experience hitting a golf ball on a course where you’re hitting it from different lies and angles on grass as opposed to hitting lousy range balls on a mat with a rubber tee is infinitely better, but a. I don’t always have time to play a round or even 9, and b. as a high handicap player getting lessons I need to be able to practice and work on the things my instructor taught me so I can attempt to execute on the course. In an ideal world I would never go to a range and I think there are ways that it can be detrimental to your game, but it beats not swinging a club.

FYI - The range is the primary place I listen to the NLU pod. Or the gym.

I love a great practice facility. I’m talking big putting green with lots of undulation, a chipping/pitching green, a short game range (usually wedge distances only, 50-125 yards), and a full length range. I could spend hours upon hours at the good ones. HOWEVA, I can’t practice driver at ranges though. There is some sort of mental block and it messes me up. Just duck hooks galore. I can’t even pretend to imagine a fairway in my head. It’s just a nightmare. Of course, the worst part of my game is driving so it’s quite the pickle.

Also, the nice places that have Pro V1’s for range balls? Yeah, you bet your ass I’m stuffing my bag with a couple handfuls of those bad boys. Don’t judge me.

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Frankie, is that you?

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Saying ranges are overrated is not a take I can get behind, I don’t even feel need the list the reasons why.

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Where is this???

Spring Rock Golf Center, New Hyde Park, NY

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Underrated if you know what you’re doing.
Overrated if you don’t.

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