Whether you’re a golfer, a golf course superintendent or a driving range owner or operator, you already know that much of the real work happens on the golf range.
For golfers the act of hitting the golf ball while not actually playing the game is a critical part of the golfing experience. As technology allows us to examine the golf swing in ever-greater detail, feeding us information on speed, angle, plane and follow through, golfers are driven to the range in their quest to groove that perfect swing.
Driving ranges are the right place to learn the golf swing. They are the best location for practicing your shot or making a swing change. They are also the saving grace of every golfer who can’t play eighteen holes this week but feels the need to pound through a bucket of balls. From driving ranges to practice areas to today’s over-the-top golf entertainment centers, golf ranges serve an important need, engaging golfers and attracting newcomers to the game in ways that may be vital to the economic future of the industry.
Unfortunately, ranges take quite a beating. Whether it is a standalone driving range or the practice area at a golf course, the high density of use per square foot means range turf suffers. The smaller the range, the greater the wear and tear on the turf.
In addition to resilient turf grass that handles traffic well and bounces back quickly, desirable features for a practice and driving area include:
- Space for golfers to work on their long game without the risk of being in the target line of others
- Options for golfers to hit from more than one direction, so they can choose the wind direction they prefer for their practice
- A designated putting green and chipping area, with the putting green offering a high number of possible hole placements
- Landing areas that are contoured to permit golfers to see their shots land
- Well-marked targets, yardage markers and signage
- Natural barriers or nets to contain shots if the practice area is tight
- Lighting that allows practice at dusk or in full darkness
- Other wish-list items include food and beverage service, a readily visible clock so that golfers don’t miss their tee times, and weather protection and artificial turf or hitting mats for use as needed
Some courses, Augusta National for example, do not choose range turf based on resiliency, but instead work very hard to replicate the turf conditions from the course itself, in an effort to make the practice experience as similar as possible to the experience of playing the course. While this direction makes for happy club members, it can make maintaining the range especially challenging.
Fans of Topgolf and other popular golf entertainment centers will also point out that the list of sought-after driving range amenities has now moved pretty far “outside the box.” Topgolf is an idea that originated when two golf-loving brothers in the United Kingdom created a system of microchip embedded golf balls that can be electronically scored for accuracy and distance. The idea opened the door to an assortment of games that in many ways seem to blur the lines between golf and interactive digital gaming.
Currently, there are nearly two dozen Topgolf Centers open or in the planning stages across the U.S., with the average facility offering a multi-level driving range with proshop, golf instruction, restaurants, bars, video games, televisions, lounge and conversation areas–even dance floors at some locations. Moreover, Topgolf is not the only facility to put a new spin on range balls. The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, RedTail Golf Center in Beaverton, Oregon, Stadium Golf Center in San Diego and Miles of Golf in Ann Arbor and Cincinnati are all driving range venues that boast a variety of technology and entertainment extras.
Whether your challenges are high tech or high traffic, maintaining a golf range and practice area is no easy feat. Fortunately, there are a number of golf range and course accessory suppliers to help you, including the companies profiled here.
Suppliers Who Make Golf Range Maintenance Easier
From golf courses to golf ranges to the neighborhood putt-putt course, PW Golf Supply (Wittek Golf Products) is virtually a complete resource for golf course and driving range products. In fact, the Northwood, Illinois company is so committed to offering a comprehensive inventory of products, company executives have incorporated this objective into their mission statement, identifying that the PW Golf Supply vision includes being “the ’One Stop Source’ for golf facilities.”
Describing the company as “the world’s leading range equipment manufacturer,” PW Golf Supply focuses on producing and offering a full inventory of products supported by fast, friendly service.
Standard Golf Company is another golf course and driving range products provider with deep roots. Located in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the company was founded in 1910 by Walter Voorhees and was originally called Standard Manufacturing Company. In the early days, Standard Manufacturing produced and sold everything from steel gates to street signs, boat docks and even automatic hog waterers. That direction changed, when, in 1921, Cedar Falls built its first nine-hole golf course.
Recognizing that no other company was offering a standardized line of golf course accessories, Voorhees decided to respond to the need. As he explained, “The idea struck me…why not develop a complete line of needs in this field…a standard line…so good that it would be in demand all over the United States?”
Today, Standard Golf sells its products on six continents through more than 250 distributors and is owned and managed by Peter Voorhees, grandson of the company’s founder. Continuing to keep its extensive product line fresh and relevant, earlier this year the Standard Golf Company announced three new products for the 2015 season: (1) Rust-Oleum SpraySmart marking paint system, (2) Full coverage dye sublimation flags and (3) Colored Directional Stakes.
As Director of Marketing Matt Pauli said, “We are a 100-plus year old company. We are one of the world’s largest golf course accessories manufacturers: ball washers, tee markers, yardage signs, sand trap rakes and more. If it is on the course, it is probably ours. We sell worldwide.”
You can find out more about their new product lines and the full inventory of golf course accessories, supplies and equipment offered by the Standard Golf Company at standardgolf.com.
A Sign of the Times
While some providers of golf course and golf range accessories go big, and provide a vast range of products and the appeal of one stop shopping, other companies, including the Golf Sign Company, Fairway Stone and Eagle Sign and Design have chosen to focus on the niche of signage, golf signage and a limited inventory of specialty products.
Golf Sign Company, located in Canton, Georgia, could be described as a synergy of golf and design. Owner Tom Eubank, who has spent his life in the golf business, began creating residential and golf course signage in 1995. A decade later, the company’s range of products includes website graphics, highly detailed community and resort maps, 3D-style yardage books, scorecards, phone apps, folders and brochures in additions to beautiful signs and markers.
Committed to the belief that by staying small the company can deliver the highest quality and most personalized service, Tom said about his business model, “We have never aspired to be the ’biggest’ and are quite happy serving a smaller group of clients that want and EXPECT great service. From the island nation of Singapore and Sentosa Golf Club to the deserts of Morocco at Assoufid and hundreds of clients in North America, Golf Sign Company can serve your courses’ needs and bring your project in under budget at the same time.” You can learn more about the Golf Sign Company at www.golfsignco.com.
Fairway Stone, located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the home of the PGA Tour, is another artisan in the field of golf course signage. The company holds the only patent in the industry and includes its installation system on all its pylon tee signs. The patent was awarded after careful study of the anchoring system and the setting instructions, which have been designed to ensure that Fairway Stone granite tee signs remain free of staining and stand straight and true for the lifetime of the granite itself.
Shipping its products from Elberton, Georgia, an area considered by many to be the heart of the U.S. monument industry, Fairway Stone uses specialized granite carriers to ensure that products are correctly handled from the loading dock to the golf course.
A nationwide provider of granite golf course tee signs and yardage markers, entrance signs and bases, directional signs, full course maps, driving range markers and granite benches, the company has produced granite tee signage and markers for more than 1000 golf courses, parks, corporate offices and communities.For more information, visit www.fairwaystone.com.
Eagle Sign and Design is a Louisville, Kentucky based company that has spent almost twenty years creating impressive signage for monuments, plaques, equestrian signage, mailboxes and golf courses. With distinctive options in cast bronze and aluminum signage, Eagle Sign helps golf courses and golf ranges make memorable impressions with tee signs, directional and range signs, markers and an assortment of custom products.
The experienced staff at Eagle Sign explains that golf signage can be especially effective when it delivers a complete map of the hole ahead, showing sand bunkers, water hazards, the fairway and rough as well as details about the green. Additionally, signage makes it possible to share commemorative inscriptions perhaps honoring a hole-in-one, a generous benefactor or another bit of information that helps the golfer connect to and remember the hole in a new way. Other items Eagle Sign has suggested adding to your signage include information about cart paths, handicap numbers or your club’s logo.
Find out more about Eagle Sign and Design at .
Learn more about other vendors who serve and support the needs of golf course superintendents and driving range operators in each month’s edition of The Golf Course Trades.