Driving Range Etiquette 

Driving Range Etiquette: The Unspoken Rules of the Range

Golf is booming since 2020 which means that courses and driving ranges are busier than ever. If you’re just getting started, it’s important to know driving range etiquette so you don’t anger (or endanger) other golfers.

Today, we’ll help simplify basic etiquette for the practice area so you can have fun and respect others working on their game. We’ll also cover essential driving range tips to make sure you actually improve and etiquette for the short game area too. 

Driving Range Etiquette 

Key Takeaways 

  • Wearing the right clothes is one of the most important things to consider with driving range etiquette. 
  •  You’ll also want to make sure to respect other golfers by aiming correctly, having the right divot pattern, not talking on your cell phone and not hitting if golfers from the course are looking for a potential lost ball near the range.
  • Additionally, always respect the golf club or facility by filling divots, not hitting at the range picker, and adhering to rules at the short game area.

Create a Plan Before You Hit Balls

The first piece of driving range etiquette isn’t so much a rule, but a suggestion to make the most of your practice session.

Set a clear goal for the session before you even get out of your car. 

Decide how long you intend to practice, what you want to work on, drills, training aids, or anything else you’ll need. This will help you make the most of your time at the range/short game area and not waste a day at the range.

Also, don’t forget that driving range golf balls don’t fly quite like real balls.

Driving Range Etiquette 

Check the Dress Code at the Golf Course

Depending on the range, you might need to check the dress code. If you go to something like TopGolf you won’t need to worry about wearing golf specific clothes.

But if you go to a country club or nicer golf course, you’ll need to wear the right clothes. Otherwise, they might not let you hit balls. If you have any questions about dress code, make sure to check the website or call the clubhouse ahead of time.  

Stay Inside the Ropes

If you’re hitting from grass and not mats, chances are there is a specific roped off hitting area. Don’t be the person who ignores that and goes outside the ropes… even if it’s busy and you have to wait. 

Otherwise, you might get in trouble at the facility and will definitely make other golfers angry. Respect the course so you can keep coming back and not damage the turf that might need a break from golfers banging balls. 

Aim Correctly

Safety is always your number one priority at the driving range. If you’re hitting on the left side, for example, don’t aim way right. If you accidentally hit a shank you might hit another player which will ruin your day at the range quickly. 

Always aim straight ahead and not diagonal at the range. While it’s okay to change targets (and a tip we highly recommend) don’t endanger others in the process. 

Golf Swing Speed

Stop Hitting at the Picker

My first job ever was picking golf balls at the local driving range. It was awesome and came with free golf privileges too. But there was one downside… getting the cart pelted by range balls.

Sure, it’s funny and the person inside the cart is protected, but it’s still scary when you’re the one inside. Don’t aim at the range picker, consider it good karma from the Golf Gods. 

Use Training Aids Carefully

We’re all about using training aids to improve your swing and make the most of your game. But some training aids are big and might interfere with others – like an impact bag. It might be a better idea to leave these for at home practice instead of taking to the range.

The same goes with drills. For example, a lot of golfers use alignment sticks for different drills where they’ll insert a rod into the ground to improve swing plane. But if you accidentally hit the rod from coming over the top or too much inside, it might hit it and fling it nearby. 

If you’re doing any golf drills that might lead to a training aid that can go flying, wait until no one is near. Or, only do them with practice swings to “feel” the motion and hit without them to avoid any injury. 

Respect Golfers Nearby

Some driving ranges run parallel to holes on the course. This might lead to golfers out on the course getting near (or even on) the range to find an errant shot. 

If this happens, wait until they’re back on the course before hitting near them. If you don’t see them on accident, make sure to yell fore, just like you would during a normal round of golf. 

Don’t Give Advice 

There is nothing worse than unsolicited advice at the gym or the golf course. Even if you mean well and want to help others, giving advice someone didn’t ask for isn’t the way to do it.

However, if you’re a scratch golfer or bombing drives and someone comes up and asks for advice, go for it. If you’re newer to the game and want to learn, we suggest treading carefully when it comes to asking strangers for swing tips. If someone is in the middle of a grind session with headphones on, it’s best not to interrupt them. 

Use your best judgment when it comes to giving or asking for advice on the driving range. 

Golf Etiquette Rules

Stay Off Your Cell Phone 

Take a digital detox when you go to the driving range.

It’s okay to reply to an email or text someone back, but don’t be glued to your phone between every shot. This will slow you down and might frustrate others who are patiently waiting for a practice slot.

Additionally, make sure to not take any phone calls as it’s rude and distracting to others. If you need to take a call, do not use the speakerphone option and walk away from the hitting area to take the call. 

Take Divots Correctly

One of the biggest pieces of driving range etiquette is to take divot patterns correctly (if you’re hitting from grass). Unfortunately, more and more ranges use mats instead of real grass as it’s easier to maintain, but country clubs and other ranges still offer grass.

When hitting from grass, there are three ways to take divots, and only one of them is “correct.”

  • Linear divot pattern. This is when you make a straight line (or several) toward different targets, hitting one ball behind the previous divot. Swinging this way maximizes the space at a grass range and doesn’t destroy the hitting area like the other methods below. 
  • Concentrated divot pattern. This is when all of your divots are close together in a square type fashion. This is better than scattered divot patterns but still not recommended as you’re using a lot of turf for a bucket of balls. 
  • Random divots. This is the worst way to hit golf balls on the driving range, as you’ll take up the most area. Not to mention, it leaves a bad patch that is hard for others to practice on after you. 
Golf Divot on Grass

Don’t Forget About Short Game 

Also, don’t forget to work on your short game too on the putting and chipping green. Here are a few etiquette tips to remember around the short game area to avoid looking like a newbie.

  • Don’t putt on the chipping green. This is a safety issue more than anything, as other golfers are chipping/pitching and might accidentally hit you. Plus, the chipping green isn’t as smooth as the putting green, either. 
  • Don’t putt with range balls. When you’re on the putting green, don’t bring range balls over to the putting green. This takes up a lot of space and doesn’t look good – nor does a range ball roll as well as a normal golf ball. 
  • Don’t chip on the putting green. Most putting greens will have a sign that says, “No chipping” and this is to keep the putting surface smooth and free of pitch marks. 
  • Rake the bunker. If you’re working on your greenside bunker shots, make sure to always rake the sand when you’re done. 
  • Rake your golf balls together. Most chipping greens will have a DIY rake to get all the practice balls together. If you’re at the chipping green for an extended time practicing, make sure to use this device to clear the chipping green. Don’t be that guy who chips all day then leaves the green full of practice balls.
  • Repair ball marks on the chipping green. If you are working on your flop shot, always repair any big ball marks to help the green heal faster.

Wear Headphones 

Lastly, if you prefer to practice with music when working on your golf game, make sure you bring a pair of headphones. The driving range is not the place to bring a Bluetooth speaker and make everyone else hear your music. It’s distracting to others and pretty rude as well. 

A pair of headphones lets you focus, listen to your favorite tunes, and be respectful of others. 

Other Driving Range Rules and Tips

Now that you have the right etiquette for hitting golf balls at the driving range, here are some tips to make the most of your practice session. And make sure to read our full guide to driving range tips here.

Golf Practice Drills

Set an Intention for Each Shot

One of the biggest mistakes that the majority of golfers make is hitting balls in a rapid fire manner. I see this so often when I’m out on the range, especially when a player hits a bad shot and wants to forget about it immediately. 

Take more time between shots to pick a target, decide a shot shape, and learn from each golf ball. This will help you more than any other driving range tip because you’ll learn more about each golf swing. 

Change Clubs Regularly

Another great tip to make the most of each practice session, to mix up your club selection. Don’t hit a 6-iron over and over again expecting to get better. Sometimes this is needed when making a big swing change, but it shouldn’t be a majority of your practice. 

Instead, hit different clubs at different targets every few balls to make practice more realistic. For example, hit a driver, then a few irons, then a wedge. This will also make practice more fun, so you’re more likely to keep going back. 

Don’t Get Overly Technical 

Another common mistake among most golfers is getting overly technical with every shot. Sure, you need to develop a consistent swing (even if it’s not perfect) but worrying about technique too much is counterproductive. This leads to playing golf swing vs. playing golf on the course.

Instead, spend 20-30% of your practice time on swing changes and the rest on short game, routines, driver practice, and other parts. This will help you avoid too many swing thoughts that might lead to a golf slump in the near future. 

how to form golf pre shot routine

Go Through Your Routine 

Your routine is one of the most important things to becoming a consistent golfer. Hit fewer golf balls some days on the driving range and go through your routine with each shot. 

Pick a target, different club, take practice swings, and go through your routine like you do when you play golf. It’ll make a massive difference when you’re on the course and help you develop a good pre-shot process. 

FAQs About the Driving Range 

Do you have more questions about the driving range? If so, keep reading through the most frequently asked questions and answers now. 

What do people wear to the driving range?

What to wear to your range session depends on location. If you’re at a golf course or country club you’ll need more formal attire. While a lot of driving ranges don’t have any specific dress code.

Do you use a tee at the driving range?

If it’s a grass driving range, you can use a tee. But if it’s a mat hitting station, you’ll need to likely use the rubber tee provided by the facility.

If you’re interested in at home practice, check out the best golf mats here.

How many balls should I hit at the range?  

It depends on what you’re working on. If you just had a lesson, you might need more balls to dial in your swing. Other times, less is more when it comes to hitting balls.

The Best Way to Practice Golf

My Experience 

If you’re at a grass range, the biggest rule is to remember the divot pattern as mentioned above. If you’re a mat hitting station, make sure to respect others nearby more than anything else.

At either type of driving range, make sure to leave the guy in the range picker alone instead of hitting Tiger like stingers at his cart. Trust me, the noise is scary, especially if they’re listening to music.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully these driving range tips will help you avoid any etiquette or rules issues at the course. This way you can make the most of your range session and improve every time you go out.

Next, make sure to read our guide to better golf practice now.

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael is a friend and contributor to the Left Rough. He is a full-time writer, podcast host of Wicked Smart Golf, and mental golf coach. He’s played for 25+ years and regularly competes in amateur golf tournaments in Arizona.

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