There’s no question that the range can be an intimidating place, especially for new golfers. When you hit an errant shot, it can feel like hundreds of eyes are staring, judging your swing. But in reality, everyone is just worried about their game. That realization for beginning golfers can be a huge step toward getting over being intimidated.
Like on the golf course, driving ranges presuppose a specific type of etiquette. For beginner players, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how particular certain range-goers are about their surrounding environment.
There are a few simple things we all can do and not do to make each other feel more comfortable and relaxed on the driving range. Whether you’re new to the game or a scratch golfer, a man or a woman, a competitive player or a weekend warrior, it’s always important to freshen up on appropriate range behavior. Here’s a list of modern-day range “dos and don’ts” for your next warm-up.
The art of the divot patch
First, the most important rule. If you’re hitting on a grass driving range, make sure you line up your shots in a way that creates a clean divot pattern. For the maintenance crew, spaced out straight lines are best, but at the very least keep your turf damage contained to a small area. We’ve all walked up to a range slot before, disheartened at how the previous guest absolutely hacked away at the pristine grass. Per the USGA: “So long as a minimum of 4 inches of live turf is preserved between strips of divots, the turf will recover quickly. Because this divot pattern removes the least amount of turf and promotes quick recovery, it is the preferred method.”
If you keep your divots under control, both the grounds crew and your fellow golfers will thank you.
Here's a good way to visualize it, per the USGA:
Courtesy of the USGA
Keep your swing advice to yourself
Try your best not to give unsolicited swing advice. It can be hard to resist the urge to offer guidance to someone who looks like they’re struggling on the range. However, giving uninvited tips can make new players feel overly scrutinized when practicing. The last thing you want to do is discourage a struggling golfer. The best thing to do is let them work through it on their own. If they ask you for help, have at it.
Silence is golden
Try to keep the chatter and general noise to a minimum on the range. If you’re there with someone else, be mindful of the people around you. Sure, it’s fine to give a friend some pointers, but don’t be so loud that the entire range hears your little lesson. If your buddy is being chatty, make it clear if you feel you’re being too noisy. Others might be there to truly focus on their game, so be respectful of your noise—just like you would on the golf course.
Music for yourself, not to distract others
The silence rule above goes for music, too. Some ranges these days play music on the speakers, and that can be fun. But don’t be the one to subject your neighbors to your tunes. Headphones are encouraged; a speaker . . . not so much.
That goes for phone calls, too
If you get a call or need to make one, have some decency and walk far enough away so nobody can hear you. This happens far too often at the range: Think about how you'd feel if someone was yapping about their dinner plans in your backswing.
Observe with care
Once in a while you’ll spot someone on the range who has a perfect swing, and you’ll want to sit and watch them stripe balls for hours. This is a natural reaction, but just make sure you don’t stand directly behind them, or anywhere close to their sightline. Seeing an onlooker out of the corner of your eye while practicing can be excruciatingly annoying. Watch from afar and feel free to compliment them if they’re taking a break from their practice routine!
Aiming for the guy retrieving balls? That’s a no-no
I know it’s tempting, but don’t aim for the ball-retrieving cart. We’ve all done it, and we all know how entertaining it can be to hear the satisfying “ding” echo when your ball hits the metal protective gate. Just imagine trying to do your job while multiple golfers are actively aiming stingers at your head. At the end of the day, hitting at the cart guy just isn’t respectful.
Save the flirting for the bar
Men, this one is for you: Don’t attempt to pick up women on the driving range. It may be a rare sight to see a woman hitting balls on her own, but that doesn’t mean you have a free invitation to talk to her and ask for her number. They’re there to practice, just like you!
“Just one more!”
It’s nearing the end of your range session, and you have a dwindling pile of balls left. Make sure you plan accordingly for how you are going to use your last few shots—you don’t want to be that one person sprinting out onto the range to retrieve a couple more balls. That can end very poorly. Either buy another bucket or accept that you didn’t “end on a good one” this time.