The 75 Best Practice Areas
When you visit these clubs, you'll want to spend extra time working on your game.
Pound a few balls at an indeterminate target, roll three or four putts, walk briskly to the first tee. For a lot of golfers, this is what passes for "warming up."
Yet these days, many players expect much more from their practice time, and courses are giving it to them: elaborate short-game areas with multiple bunkers and lies, ranges with target greens at laser-calibrated distances, indoor or covered hitting bays, computerized swing analysis and more.
Golf Digest Index honors the art of the great practice area with this issue's ranking of the 75 Best. We created the list by polling Golf Digest's Course Rating panelists, a group of more than 900 avid and highly opinionated players. These facilities not only help you warm up before playing but entice you to get out and practice more.
THE 75 BEST PRACTICE AREAS
Text By Jeff Patterson
Additional Research By Mary Jane McGirr and Topsy Siderowf
1. PINE VALLEY (N.J.) G.C.
Highlights include a double-sided range and a 10-hole course designed by Tom Fazio. Says one panelist: "You could spend all day practicing."
2. WORLD WOODS G.C. | Brooksville, Fla.
The circular range is a rarity, but the putting green is unlike any other. Covering two acres, it has about 20 feet of elevation change.
3. PINEHURST (N.C.) RESORT & C.C.
Steps from the storied clubhouse sits a two-sided range (Maniac Hill), several short-game stations and a vast putting green.
4. BANDON (ORE.) DUNES
Wind is usually a factor, so the double-sided range lets you practice from multiple angles. There's also a nine-hole par-3 course.
5. TPC SAWGRASS | Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
In a recent poll of 45 tour players, 21 said this was the best range they use all year -- nine votes more than any other facility.
6. WHISPER ROCK G.C. | Scottsdale
Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley could practice anywhere. But they've chosen the double-sided range here.
7. MUIRFIELD VILLAGE G.C. | Dublin, Ohio
Jack Nicklaus built this as an homage to Augusta. But he was able to build a better -- and circular -- range.
8. CAVES VALLEY G.C. | Owings Mills, Md.
Pick a target: "You could play a closest-to-the-pin contest with every club in your bag, including driver," says a panelist.
9. DESERT MOUNTAIN CLUB | Scottsdale
Among the highlights: four large ranges, nine bunkers and a dining area with a full menu, bar and indoor-outdoor seating.
10. PGA G.C. | Port St. Lucie, Fla.
With different types of sand imported from all over the world here, you can become a world-class bunker player.
11. SHADOW CREEK | North Las Vegas, Nev.
The range is conveniently located between the locker room and first tee, and there's a seven-acre short-game area.
12. FLINT HILLS NATIONAL G.C. | Andover, Kan.
The 31-acre practice area includes nine realistic target greens and a 386-yard warm-up hole.
13. PGA WEST | La Quinta, Calif.
"There's nothing quite like watching balls soar against those beautiful mountains," says a panelist.
14. SEA ISLAND G.C. | St. Simons Island, Ga.
Three 50 Greatest teachers work at the learning center. "For a practice nut, the courses can be an afterthought," says a panelist.
15. KINLOCH G.C. | Manakin-Sabot, Va.
There's a 120-yard wedge area at the back of this double-sided range, with stones marking 10-yard increments.
16. BERKELEY HALL PLANTATION | Bluffton, S.C.
"I know members who joined just to use this practice facility," says a panelist. A covered area lets players hit in the rain.