Am I the only one who seemed to think the game was easier on the range? It wasn't until I learned all about driving range vs golf course that I understood you need a good balance in order to become a better player.

Many players don't really know what's more important: To practice on a golf course or to stick to the driving range. 

Well, the truth is, the answer really depends on many factors, including your experience, expertise, and expectations. 

So, if you're among people who feel like they hit the ball better on the range and aren't certain whether you should start hitting on a course, this article is for you. 

Here are several differences between the driving range and a golf course and how you can improve your game:

Driving Range Vs Golf Course 

Differences Between A Golf Course And A Driving Range

Getting to play on a golf course can be a challenge. Considering there aren't as many golf courses as there are courts for some other sports, not everyone gets to practice at the time that suits them the best. 

Because of this, many people opt to train on a driving range. This is the best way to find a substitute for an unavailable golf course and to improve your golf game at a convenient time. 

As a result, some players believe practicing on a driving range alone is enough for their practice sessions. 

This, however, isn't true, and you need to find a good balance between playing on a golf course and a driving range if you want to become the best player out there

Here are some of the main differences in a driving range vs golf course, just so you can understand what I mean:

Accessibility

As I've prefaced, it can be challenging to find the time in the work schedule to play on a golf course. 

Golf courses are not readily available, and the waitlists can be long. Not to mention how a golf game can last for a long time, making the waiting time even longer. 

According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), golf games last, on average, between four and four and a half hours. This means that only a couple of players can play during the day. 

Drive ranges, on the other hand, are almost always readily available, which is why I have spent a lot of my practice time hitting the ball on the range. 

Golf Balls

All balls need to be approved by The R&A and the USGA. This doesn't mean some differences in quality don't exist. 

Golf courses typically offer a wide variety of golf balls for you to choose from. Most of the time, you'll see a bucket of balls waiting for you to choose from.

Driving ranges, while also offering a large number of balls, typically have lower-quality equipment. It simply doesn't pay off for them to keep expensive, high-quality balls when they are charging so little. 

Every great player knows just how big a difference good golf course balls make. If you're used to playing with improper balls, this can greatly impact the quality of your game and impact your score. 

Not only that, but some driving ranges keep balls with a limited flight range to discourage players from hitting the ball outside of the range. This, too, can impact your game once you start playing on the course.  

The Course Management

The course management might not seem like rocket science, but this is, in fact, a rather challenging trick to learn. It takes lots of time to fully understand how to make the right move at the right time and to make that score on every possible course.

Course management requires good visualization skills and lots of experience, and this isn't something you can practice on a driving range, especially not if you plan on participating in competitions. 

This is just one of the reasons why golf course practices are so important for aspiring professional golfers. 

Mental Game 

When you're playing on a much smaller driver range, everything might seem quite easy, especially as you're getting better at the game. 

However, once you step on a real golf course, you might realize that hitting the ball is now a completely different thing. 

This is why most experts recommend using a driving range to practice your moves, but to get a true idea of the mental game, you need to step on the course. Only this can give you a true idea of what it is to play a real game of golf. 

Time Commitment

As I've already mentioned, a golf game can last for a very long time, especially on a golf course. The mere size of the course means you can spend hours upon hours before completing each hole.

Driving ranges are much smaller, so the game doesn't require as much of your time.

Finding time to play on a golf course in today's day and age can be difficult. In the end, your preference for a range or a course might entirely depend on the free hours you have throughout the week. 

Dress Code

Most golf courses require a dress code that you need to follow in order to play. This adds some exclusivity feeling and helps you get in the mood. 

On the other hand, most driving ranges don't require you to be dressed in any specific way. This makes them much more convenient for people who are going to practice after work or have some errands to run after the game.

Distractions

One thing no golf player likes is having too many distractions during the game.

Sure, this comes down to people watching the game and their behavior, but golf courses generally attract a more professional audience who knows how to behave during a match. 

Driving ranges can have larger audiences that aren't too familiar with the behavior code during golfing. Having too many people making noise around you can increase the chances of bad shots. 

Also, due to their size, golf courses can give you more privacy compared to driving ranges.

Turf and Practice Conditions

Golf courses have a real turf, which certainly adds a sense of realism to the game. 

Most driving ranges have mats that resemble turfs. This helps you have the same feeling as if you were playing on the course, without all the nuisances of actually dealing with a turf.

But do you actually need real turf to play? 

In general, mats are better for irons, but most other clubs do better on a turf. Also, mats can harm your wrist and hand if you play on them for too long.

This is why it's always better to combine the two and not to avoid playing on the real turf from time to time.  

Price

One thing is undeniable: Driving ranges are much cheaper than golf courses

This price difference is one of the main reasons why driving ranges are so popular for practicing short irons and wedge shots. Not everyone has nearly $100 to play on a true golf course. 

Compared to the high price of golf courses, driving ranges typically cost between $10 and $20.

Of course, keep in mind that the exact price might vary depending on the various amenities, area, and location's popularity.  

Pros And Cons Of Driving Range 

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Driving ranges might seem like an amateur's choice, but they have many advantages. Some of them include:

  • A driving range can greatly help you perfect play without having to deal with long waitlists. They are an accessible choice that can help everyone practice or just have some fun.
  • They are also accessible in a way that is quite affordable. If you don't feel like spending tens of dollars just so you can play for a couple of hours, a driving range is a way to go!
  • They allow you to have short games that are a great choice for the busy world we live in. You don't have hours upon hours to spend hitting the hole? A driving range is an excellent option for you!
  • Many driving ranges can allow you to play in all weather. This isn't something that is possible with golf courses.
  • Driving ranges are suitable for both beginners and professional players. Everyone can just grab their favorite club and enjoy a good range game!  
  • They can help you work out without extensive preparations and bookings. You can simply come to a driving range, see if it is available, and start playing!
  • It usually doesn't have a dress code, so you can just hop in to play right after work or a family dinner at a restaurant.
  • Everything is much more convenient on a driving range. 

Of course, driving ranges have their flaws. Some of them include:

  • They can make the transition to the much larger golf course challenging. 
  • If a driving range has a mat instead of a true turf, it can lead to injuries and improper swings.
  • It can get more crowded than a golf course.
  • Golf balls and the other equipment aren't of the highest quality.

In general, driving ranges are a good example of You get what you've paid for. They are an excellent place for people wanting to practice hitting that good shot, and it's a great thing that they can do so in a convenient, accessible way.

Just don't expect them to be too fancy, or you might end up being disappointed. 

Also, if you plan on becoming a professional player, you cannot stay on a driving range forever. 

Pros And Cons Of A Golf Course

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Golf courses have a few features that are better than driving ranges. This includes:

  • They give you a true golf experience in the open. 
  • Golf courses are of huge help when it comes to practicing both mental game and course management, as you'll be playing golf in a professional location that is true to size. 
  • They give you a unique feeling of playing on real grass and not a mat. 
  • You can practice a wider variety of shots.
  • They offer you high-quality balls and equipment, as some of the best golfers practice on courses. 
  • There are fewer distractions on a golf course than on a driving range, as the largest part of the audience are true fans of the sport who know how to behave so as not to disturb the players. 

However, even golf courses aren't without their cons. Here are some of the reasons why some players dislike them:

  • They are not suitable for short games, so if you don't have lots of time to spend practicing, courses are not for you.
  • They are much more strict with their dress codes.
  • They are not as accessible as driving ranges, and getting the spot can be a true challenge.
  • They are expensive.

Golf courses are favored by professionals and players who love the feeling of playing a real golf game and seeing different greens. 

Sure, they might cost more, and you might need to book your space in advance, but nothing compares to the real deal, and that is playing on a true golf course. 

Is It Better To Practice On The Range Or Course?

Even after listing all the pros and driving range vs golf course, it's impossible to explicitly state which one is better. Both have a different purpose and can be a better choice for different groups of people. 

A driving range is designed to help people, especially new players, practice their golf game. Going to them is a good way for beginners to improve their moves and much-needed shots without having to reserve the courts a couple of weeks ahead. 

This is why most casual players favor driving ranges over golf courses. They can enjoy a good practice time without the fuss of having to deal with a busy and formal location they can't even play on at the exact moment they want to.

However, you cannot experience a true golf game without playing on a golf course. In fact, playing on a driving range for too long can make you lose the feeling of the true scale of the game and make it more challenging to finish the hole in a real match. 

Also, there's no denying that golf courses are more professional, both in the environment and in the equipment they offer. 

In the end, balance is the key. Driving ranges can help you practice more often, but golf courses can help you become an expert player.

If you're interested in finding available golf courses in your area, you can always take a look at our website. We offer a wide range of courts worldwide, so all you need to do is make a few clicks and play your favorite sport.

Good luck!