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Get Social On the Range

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Published on

Contestants warm up on the driving range during the second round of the 33rd PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship.PGA of America

At its core, golf is an individual sport. Sure, the Ryder Cup provides us with incredible excitement every two years, and the high level of collegiate competition is inspiring the next generation of golfers to go all-in on the game they love, but we all have stories of time spent alone on the range with headphones in and not a care in the world, or a solitary stroll on the back nine as dusk sets in on a warm summer evening.
However, in recent years, golf has become a social activity off the course as much as on, and the practice range has become the meeting place at many private clubs and public courses, as well as a fun night out with family and friends at stand-alone ranges across the country.
The Club at Ibis, in West Palm Beach, Florida, just won a Top Range Renovation award from the Golf Range Association of America after $3 million practice facility renovation. With 80 hitting stations and two short game areas, members see the range as a place to catch up with friends. It’s definitely not just for practice anymore.
Ibis, and many other green grass facilities and stand alone ranges are installing technology from companies like Toptracer and TrackMan to engage members and create social opportunities that are redefining the shared experience of golf via special gaming features that are a hit, regardless of one’s skill level. 
On the public side, Arrowood Golf Course in Oceanside, California recently added Toptracer Range technology in a new lounge installed on its range. With an inviting setting that includes comfortable seating, flat screen TV’s, Toptracer monitors, heaters (when necessary) and food and drink brought right to your area, it’s a prime location for groups of all demographics to hang out and enjoy the company of others, as much as the golf itself. 
Other facilities are taking the social aspect of the golf range to another level. If you’re in Dallas, head to Keeton Park Golf Course for one of their very special range celebrations. Head professional Ty Martinez recently told me about an event they held that welcomed a DJ and a band, offered food and drink and the very cool vibe that Keeton Park is famous for. There were a host of sponsors and vendors, and people even brought their dogs to the party. 
In addition to the outdoor range, technology has created an entirely new segment in golf by combining the golf simulator with food and drink. Just as you’re reading this, you probably have an indoor simulator facility with a short drive. With several innovative companies leading the way, what used to be a status symbol tucked neatly in the garage or basement of the more affluent golf enthusiasts, is now a social experience that has no barriers to entry:
  • Costs are per time and space, rather than per individual
  • Time to play is considerably shorter than a five-hour round of golf
  • Scratch golfers and first-timers can enjoy the amenity equally.
  • It’s better than just sitting at a bar
  • It’s fun - It’s exercise - It’s a gateway to a life of joy in golf      
Whether at your private club, public course, local driving range or favorite simulator spot, gather your friends or find a date, and experience the game of golf like you may never have before - and if you have, go do it again and enjoy.
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