The Etiquetteist: 9 driving-range rules you absolutely must follow

May 9, 2019
Just as there are rules for the course, there are also rules for the range.

In golf, tireless tinkerers are known as ‘range rats.’ But even rats have social norms. Which brings us to this week’s etiquette rundown: nine rules of thumb for the driving range.

1. Mind Your Divots

You’re here to practice, not to rototill the turf. Don’t tear up every patch of grass at your disposal. Keep your divots in a vertical line, without digging too deep in a single spot. The maintenance crew will thank you. So will any golfer who comes next.

Be kind to the range, Practice in a straight line instead of creating divots all over the place.
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2. Watch your Angles

While firing at different targets is fair game, this is not a free-for-all. In the interest of sanity — and everyone’s safety — avoid cross-country shots. If you’re stationed at a stall on the left side range, don’t take aim at a green on the far right. Ditto for the other way around.

3. The Bucket List

Don’t tip the bucket over unless you plan to hit every single shot. Only take the balls you need and leave the rest in the bucket for the next golfer, rather than scattering them all about.

4. Don’t Hog the Stall

Are you a masochist, bent on banging balls until your hands blister? Suit yourself. But also situate yourself in a tucked-away spot at the far end of the range, rather than in a prime location. Even then, if the range is packed, it’s not your right to go full Vijay. Finish your bucket then step aside and let another golfer take a turn.

5. Tame that Tune

We get it. You like yacht rock. Not everyone does. So if you insist on hitting to the rhythmic strains of‘Hotel California’, do it through your earbuds and spare the rest of us your outdated taste.

Don't empty that bucket unless you plan on hitting all the balls.

6. Stay in Inside the Ropes

Those boundaries are there for a reason: the turf beyond needs time to recover. What it doesn’t need is to take a pounding from someone who thinks he’s more important than everyone else.

7. Don’t Pelt the Range-Picker

We get it. It’s tempting, taking aim at the driver in the mesh-enclosed range-picker. But what may seem to you like harmless target practice is disrespectful of the very people who are trying to serve you. If juvenile shooting is what you’re after, try downloading video game.

8. Give Wide Berth

This should go without saying but we’ll say it anyway: getting hit with a golf club hurts. So don’t take chances. When you’re walking behind other golfers, give them ample leeway. Twice as much as you think you need.

9. Minimize the Questions and the Commentary

If you’re looking for a lesson, book a lesson. Don’t pester your fellow rangers for tips. Exchanging simple pleasantries is okay, but this is not a place for prolonged chatter. Same goes for the monologues. No one needs to hear your moaning or groaning, and no cares that you caught that last shot fat.

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