At Home On The Range – Etiquette at the Driving Range

The other day at the range I put my money in the ball machine and ALMOST forgot to put the bucket in place.  Only two balls escaped – comedy averted – but it got me thinking about being at the driving range.  Whether it’s a basic facility, a well manicured hitting area with practice balls in nice pyramids, or a full-service operation like Miles of Golf, there are ways to make your visit safe, considerate and fun.
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Don’t Go There
Never retrieve that mis-hit ball lying seductively just a few feet in front of you.   The unbroken tees out there aren’t worth your noggin either.

Keeping an Eye on the Other Guy
Don’t set up too close to other players or walk in back of them.  Before you walk into a stall, wait until golfers on both sides have finished their swings so they are not distracted.
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Curb Your Cell Phone
Enough said.

Pace of Practice
If it’s crowded, you don’t need to rush your practice.  Be mindful, work efficiently, and move away quickly when you’ve worked through your basket of balls.

The Art of Saying  “Thanks….. and Goodbye!”
You know him/her – Helpful Herbie.  This is the person who has personal insights into your golf swing… and apparently all the time in the world to share them with you.  Try saying, “Thanks, I’m working on that with my coach”.

What’s Right?
It’s perfectly OK to set up right-handers next to lefties.  No particular etiquette there.

Save the Grass
On grass tees, try to keep divot pattern close together to minimize area that gets abused.

A Word About Winter
If you’re playing at heated tees, keep your clubs close to keep them warm – and turn off the heater when you leave.
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Picking on the Picker and Other Strategies For a Good Time at the Range
You know what they say about golf, it’s just a stick and a ball.  It’s all about having fun.  So go ahead… it’s OK to try to hit the ball picker (we checked!).  Play some games, promise yourself some rewards, (I WILL go shopping if I hit 10 wedge shots within a yard of the target.  OK, make that two yards of the target), try something new, shake it loose…. you get the idea!

By all means, put that basket under the spout on the ball machine
At least once a week at Miles of Golf, someone doesn’t… who said golf isn’t fun?

Teeing is Believing


Tee the ball and get set up for the drive; envision a beautiful arc down the fairway, and the bounce and roll that carries further still. Brava!  The teeing area is like a stage, each golfer stepping up to perform, every drive a soliloquy of motion.  Alas, poor golfer … sometimes we flub our lines.  Well, that’s golf.
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The teeing area is a pretty staightforward piece of real estate, but like everywhere on the golf course, there are things to know.  Learn the little details by heart, and then go ahead and deliver that top-flight performance.

Nine notable things to know and do around the teeing area

Brand your ball
Ever hit someone else’s ball on the course? You take 2 penalty strokes… and many self-inflicted lashes of embarrassment, regret and distraction. Save yourself! Before you begin your round, know what brand of ball you’re playing, tell the other players, and be sure to mark them with a distinctive squiggle, dot or initial. Golf is confusing enough.

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Ready or not
Has your group decided to play ready-golf? If so, there’s no order to players teeing off. Be aware, though, many golfers play honors; the player with the best score on the previous hole has the honor of teeing off first. If no one wins the hole, then the order of play does not change from the previous tee. Who tees first on the first hole? That’s often determined by random, or sometimes the player with the lowest handicap gets it going.

Hitting from the “ladies tees
Stina Sternberg, former editor of Golf For Women Magazine and current TV golf personality, has some strong opinions about what tees to use and she shares them in her Golf Digest blog“Ladies tees” is an out-dated term – like calling a flight attendant a stewardess. It might have been acceptable years ago, but today it’s insulting. Tees should have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the golfer’s skill level. If you’re a short hitter, you should play from the forward tees, no matter your age or gender. It pains me to watch men who can’t hit the ball 200 yards off from the whites – or heaven forbid, the blues. The reverse is also true: Long hitters should move back, even women. I know many men who cringe when they play against a woman who bombs it from the reds. It’s a huge advantage”. Thanks, Stina.
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When someone’s teeing off, stand safely and courteously out of the way and out of her peripheral vision. Turn off your conversation and stand still, no banging of clubs, blowing of noses, sneezing, coughing or wiggling of anything. This is the theatre, remember?

Pretend you’re a caddie
Watch everyone’s drive and make note of the spot where each ball lands. Have you ever disowned your errant drive, its pathetic path too painful to watch? It’s great to have another pair of eyes. I always appreciate it when someone can quickly and accurately help me find a hidden ball.

When it’s your turn…
Have your club ready, and ball and tee in hand. Rule 11 defines the teeing area as “a rectangular area two clubs lengths in depth, the front and sides of which are defined by the outside limits of two tee markers”. Think of a rectangular box. You may stand outside the box, but your teed ball must be inside it.

When you’re done, attend to some housekeeping, filling in your divot with the sand mixture provided. Don’t forget to pick up your broken tee.

Curb your cart
Motorized carts should not be driven on the teeing area, and the best-mannered golfers will even leave their pull carts and carry bags off of it.

Just a wee bit of tee history
Early golfers made tees from piles of sand. At each teeing ground, courses provided sand in boxes as well as water so golfers could clean up. Sand tees are long gone, but the term “tee box” has remained and is now used by golfers to refer to the entire short-grassed area where a hole begins. A more accurate name would be “teeing area” or teeing ground”.

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Exit stage right, stage left, just exit!
When your group has finished driving, be ready to move out with dispatch. Show’s over.

Dancing on the Green

“You’re on the dance floor,” is music to a golfer’s ears. You’re on the green!

Watch an experienced foursome, each moving about the green with quiet dispatch, precision and cooperation. It’s a beautiful thing – to the players and to the golfers behind them. Etiquette ensures fair opportunity for all players and moves play along.

Miss Manners of Golf? Please, not me. But knowledge and courtesy on the course are always prized. I’ll never master golf, but I can practice and become a good partner on the “dance floor”! Here are suggestions.

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When you get to the green

  • Don’t step on anyone’s putting line.
  • Ball farthest away putts first.
  • Mark your ball if you’re not first to putt, or if you wish to line it up.
  • Look for dent or ding left by your ball and fix it. Repair other divots too.


  • Take flag out and put it back nice and straight. It’s fragile around the cup.
  • Place flag GENTLY out of all golfers peripheral vision and putting lines.
  • Occasionally a player will request that you tend the flag. Do this correctly and you’ll score extra etiquette points. More on this in a later post!
  • No scooping the ball out of the cup with your putter head. Ouch!

Putting in Progress!

  • Stand out of the peripheral vision of person putting. You can “go to school” on someone’s putt with a similar line to yours but don’t get your education at her expense.
  • Don’t wiggle, waggle or whisper, or crinkle the wrapper of your granola bar. Or anything like that!
  • Keep your shadow to yourself.
  • Be ready, by lining up your putt while others are doing the same.
  • Putt-outs are allowable and courteous when you’re only a few inches from the cup and it won’t interfere with another’s ball. Ask, “Okay if I putt out?

Loiterers will be shot at – by the folks behind!

  • Put clubs at back of green or on side where you’ll exit to next tee. ALWAYS think of how to save steps. Never leave clubs at front of green.
  • Park cart so it is on shortest line to next tee.
  • When you’re finished putting, move to the flagstick, ready to pick it up and replace it in hole after everyone is done.
  • As you leave take a look over your shoulder for forgotten clubs.
  • Record your score when you get to the next tee.

That’s it – some smooth moves around the green.  Do you have more?