February 1, 2024

What Does Your Range Mean To Your Facility?

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA

According to the National Golf Foundation, “more than one-third of the U.S. population over the age of five played golf (on-course or off-course), followed golf on television or online, read about the game or listened to a golf-related podcast in 2022.” That was up 12 percent from the previous year. That’s 119 million people.

With tee sheets full and courses bustling, the driving range has become a hub of activity like never before. Whether or not your course has cool targets, music playing, fine grass tees, top-of-the-line hitting mats or ball-tracking technology, you’ve probably seen more golfers on the range, and they’re not just beginners.

PGA of America Golf Professionals, facility management and stand-alone range operators are seeing greater revenues stemming from activities and engagement on their driving range. When your tee sheet fills up, you can keep the fun and social opportunities flowing by being innovative, intuitive and inventive.

We asked some established PGA of America Golf Professionals the question: What does your range mean to your facility? They had some helpful feedback that should be shared across the industry.

Jennifer Hudson – PGA of America Director of Instruction

Sankaty Head Golf Club – Siaconset, Massachusetts

“The practice facilities at Sankaty Head Golf Club are an essential amenity that offer members of all skill levels the opportunity to enjoy golf. While Sankaty Head offers a unique and relaxed family experience on Nantucket Island, it is also a historic and challenging links course where traditions of the game and pace of play are highly valued. The practice facilities allow every member of the family to become confident and comfortable playing our golf course.”

Recent renovations or current amenities include:

  • Significant restorations and a practice facility redesign in 2019
  • Long-game range targets (90-215 yards) include six greens that reflect size and shape of on-course greens
  • Increased depth of tee line
  • Private teeing area for instruction
  • Short game area includes a large pitching green surrounded by two bunkers
  • Players can practice hitting from first cut rough, fescue and uneven lies
  • Wedge range allows golfers to hit up to 60 yards to the pitching green and 130 yards onto the range
  • 10 staggered cement circle targets installed in 10-yard increments from 10-100 yards

“The short game practice area is essential to our junior golf program, as we can set up a mini Par 3 course and coach juniors on how to play the game from etiquette and rules to scoring. Plus, it’s critical to have an area where children can play games, have crazy skills challenges and learn to be athletes with programming as unique as obstacle courses.

In addition, we enlarged our practice putting green which is located by the first tee to 10,000 sq. ft. This green replicates the slopes and breaks of our golf course greens, while also providing opportunities to putt on flatter surface areas.

These practice facility improvements, combined with our instructional group programming, have created a robust practice culture at Sankaty Head. You can now find parents and their children or groups of adult friends coming out to practice throughout the day. Practice is no longer just a ten-minute warm-up before the round, but a main reason to enjoy your day at Sankaty.”

Janean Murphy – LPGA Director of Instruction

Meadowbrook Country Club – Ballwin, Missouri

“The driving range at Meadowbrook Country Club is an important resource that members and staff use daily. As the Director of Instruction, the range plays a significant role in how I interact with members. During the active season, the range is where I meet half of my lessons, with the other half being on the course or short game area. For the members, the range is definitely a “go-to” resource for warm-up before a round or a solid practice session. I believe the driving range’s location between the 1st and 9th holes encourages a lot of use.”

Recent renovations or current amenities include:

  • New mats installed in 2023 for daily use during dormant off-season
  • Three tiers provide plenty of space so tee line can be moved daily if needed during the peak season
  • Fairway bunker available for practice on the range
  • Target flags spaced 15-20 yards apart allow members to work on vital wedge play
  • Alignment rods available for member use at each hitting station

“The range is a staging point during member-guest events with players warming up on the lower tier and carts set up on the upper tier. This allows the members and their guests easy access to their clubs during their warm-up and is a fantastic way to get everyone in their carts for announcements and a timely and orderly shotgun start.”

Randy Chang – PGA of America Director of Instruction

Journey at Pechanga – Temecula, California

“The practice facility at Journey at Pechanga is a diamond in the rough that offers hotel and RV guests complimentary use during their stay at the resort. The two-sided driving range and two full practice greens with greenside bunkers offer guests and tribal members an opportunity to vastly improve their golfing skills. Journey’s practice facilities lend their space to our PGA of America Golf Professionals, who organize community programs, such as PGA Jr. League, family tournaments and PGA HOPE for our local veterans.”

John Dipollina – PGA of America Director of Golf

Lyman Orchards Golf Center – Middlefield, Connecticut

“The practice facilities here at Lyman Orchards not only give our guests, season pass holders and members a chance to warm up before their rounds, but they also provide an opportunity to work on their golf games following their lessons and clinics.

With the largest women’s clinic program in the country and one of the largest junior golf programs, we can invite these individuals back on their own time and provide “one-stop shopping” service. This comfort factor is vital to the growth of our ladies’ and junior programs.”

Recent renovations or current amenities include:

  • Grass teeing area sets Lyman Orchards apart from other local ranges
  • Strongly considering implementing ball-tracking technology

“Every time a guest comes to use our range, they must walk by the instructional areas. There we have a section roped off for private and clinic-based instruction, and they’re almost always in use. The guest sees these students working on their game, and the seed is planted in their minds prior to their own practice session. It’s reinforced when they see the same images as they leave the property. This gives us a non-obtrusive way of marketing our instructional products, which I believe has aided in our success over the past few years.”

Adam Rosuck – PGA of America Assistant General Manager

Northmoor Country Club – Highland Park, Illinois

“Since 2020, Northmoor Country Club has gotten creative with its practice range space and use. Other than its conventional and intended purpose, it has been used as a dog park, Par 3 course and event space. We also stage our larger shotgun events next to the range for convenience.

To enhance the golf experience, we have a CoverShots portable shelter, FLAGD distance technology and other amenities such as benches, towels, aiming sticks, water/ice machine, club cleaners, tees, sun block and Band Aids.”

Recent renovations or current amenities include:

  • Synthetic turf hitting option on the back of the tee area enables range usage when turfgrass conditions aren’t conducive.

Bob Usher – PGA of America Director of Instruction

Grey Oaks Country Club – Naples, Florida

“We increased our teaching revenues from $200,000 to $500,000, mostly within our 7-month winter season, and expanded our club sales and club fitting services to over $800,000 annually. This shows our members the commitment and expertise of our staff and club management.”

Recent renovations or current amenities include:

  • Range expanded in 2016
  • Added a four-bay teaching area that is outfitted with V1 Coaching software, Trackman launch monitors, K-Coach biofeedback software and numerous other teaching aids
  • Short game area expanded in 2023 with golf course architect Andrew Green, demonstrating the club’s commitment to its membership
  • Added ball-tracking technology in 2023

“We built a covered area with two hitting stations for practice or private parties, increasing our food and beverage revenue. Our teaching staff hosts these private parties (for a fee), which has been very well-received by our members. In fact, we hosted four big events this past holiday season that generated over $5,000 for our golf staff.”

Nick Kumpis – PGA of America Director of Instruction

Santa Ana Country Club – Santa Ana, California

“We created an all-grass double-sided practice range in 2017 that offers premium balls and no nets to constrict the golfers’ shots. In contrast, our old range used limited-flight golf balls on mats and had nets on the sides and back, which didn’t offer a premium practice experience. The new range has a great look and golfers can hit every shot in their bag. The back of the range also offers a quiet practice space.

Recent renovations or current amenities include:

  • Range features nine greens which can be set up as a Par 3 course

“We have hosted events at the range utilizing the Par 3 layout.”

Ryan Webb – PGA of America Director of Instruction

North Ridge Country Club – Raleigh, North Carolina

“The golf driving range and practice facility serve as crucial assets for our members and the club overall. They provide a dedicated space for members to hone their skills, improve their swings, and enhance their overall golfing proficiency. Our facility fosters a sense of community among members, creating opportunities for socializing and friendly competition. Additionally, a well-utilized practice area contributes to the overall prestige of the club, attracting enthusiasts and enhancing the overall golfing experience for everyone involved.”