Tips for Going To A Golf Driving Range at Night
For many golfers, getting to a driving range during the day is nearly impossible.
Maybe you work during the day, and weekends are filled with regular golfing rounds, spending time with family, or other activities.
A lot of times it is easier to sneak out to the range at night.
However, the range at night presents some new challenges.
Let’s take a closer look at hitting golf balls at the driving range at night, and things you can do to get the most out of every session.
Special Challenges at Night
Some ranges with limited space use special balls that are made to travel less distance.
This is so they don’t fly out of the range into surrounding properties.
Setting aside limited-flight range balls, normal range balls do not go as far as regular balls either.
That was the result of a study by Golf Digest in June of 2014. They pulled sample balls from practice ranges from all over the country, and tested them against almost new Titleist Pro V1s.
Range balls had a much wider range in distance. For example, with a driver swing speed of 105mph, the Pro V1s landed from 274-286 yards, while the range balls landed anywhere from 254-282 yards, or about 12 yards less on average.
An unscientific look at popular online golf forums support these findings.
Golfers report range balls fly from 5-15 percent shorter than their regular shots.
Nighttime temperatures also affect flight distance and behavior.
Golf balls are affected by cold weather due to the “coefficient of thermal expansion.”
In simpler terms, physical objects behave differently when they expand or contract in varying temperatures. And golf balls take a while to warm up.
If you are hitting balls on the range at night and it is 45 degrees outside, the golf balls themselves might be even colder.
In addition, cold air has an effect on a golf ball as it flies through the atmosphere.
Frank Thomas, formerly a USGA technical director, told Golf Digest in an interview there is a difference of two yards in yardage for every 10 degrees of difference in temperature.
In Washington, DC, for example, the average daily temperature for an entire calendar year is around 65 degrees, while at night the average is about 46 degrees.
That means a range ball will fly roughly 4 yards shorter at night.
Temperature isn’t the only thing that affects your game at night on the range.
Lighting plays a role as well. Many ranges are lit by floodlights on poles or tee-area roofs.
This method lights the balls from the perspective of the golfer, making them easier to see.
Problems occur if the floodlights are too low, creating a glare.
The wattage is not consistent, either — these are often metal halide lights with anywhere from 1000W to 1500W, usually with poor light controls.
The result is too much spill light and excessive glare.
You’ll have better vision at a range where the lights are mounted higher, much higher than the typical 7 to 14 yards.
The lights should be able to be aimed properly, rather than just shining out straight, and have special optics to control glare. Some higher-end ranges are beginning to install LED lighting.
They have excellent brightness and help reduce glare.
The bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours, about 30 years of actual use.
They are also much cooler than metal halide lights, helping the range save money and use less energy.
Experts say almost all ranges will be using LED lighting as older systems are renovated.
Have Fun But Stay Focused
For some golfers, going to the range is a social function.
They meet up with buddies, and spend most of the time talking about what’s going on with work, their families, sports and everything except golf.
While one of the best parts of golf is that it is a great time to spend with friends, try to go to the driving range to improve your game.
This may mean taking some time to yourself so that you can focus on your swing, and begin to really feel the changes you are making.
One way to make your range session at night entertaining is to pretend that you are playing a full 18-hole round of golf.
Use the different target greens on the range as imaginary holes.
Play these imaginary holes as you would on a real golf course.
For a long par five, for example, use your driver for the first shot.
For the second shot, use a fairway metal, followed by a short iron shot.
Follow this same plan for different par threes, par fours and par fives that you make up as you go.
Play this imaginary round with attention to detail.
Visualize every shot from behind the ball before you play it just as you would in a regular round.
Take the same number of practice swings you would on the course.
By replicating a real route as much as possible, you allow your brain to make an imprint of the tactics and strategies you’ll need when faced with a real match.
Short Game and Putting
Many golfers go to the range, hit 80% of their shots with the driver and never go to the practice green to work on their short game.
This shows up in their Sunday game when they continually hit the ball over the green, and miss easy putts.
Make sure you spend a generous amount of your driving-range time by visiting the short game area and the putting green.
You will make a faster impact on your game, and shed strokes from your average score quicker by improving your short game and putting skills.
Have you ever been playing a great round of golf, only to be shocked and frustrated when you have a bad hole and the “wheels come off”?
While this happens to every golfer at one time or another, if it is a regular occurrence, you can be sure it is due to inconsistencies that you can iron out of your game at the driving range.
When you get to the driving range at night, stay focused on the areas of your game that you’re trying to improve.