Taking the kids to a driving range

For younger kids who might struggle with walking the longer distance of a golf course, a driving range is a great way to have a go without the time and commitment of an actual game.

When: 7 days a week, Monday 10am – 10pm, Tuesday – Friday 7am – 10pm, Saturday & Sunday 7am – 9pm.  No bookings required.

Where: Albert Park Driving Range, Aughtie Drive ALBERT PARK

Cost: starts at 50 balls for juniors $8, 30-minute session with a Pro $65, weekly junior clinics $250 for 8 weeks.  More info, click here.

Golf is a great game for all ages – while it can be competitive among the group you are playing with, at the end of the day you are actually competing with yourself and your last best score.  So technically you could play with a group of golfers of differing standards and it shouldn’t matter (unless you are the competitive type and playing with a pro is going to send your beginner skills into a spiral of self-doubt and loathing).

Immi (10) has been part of weekly golf lessons in the past – but when we made this visit to the range it was almost 12 months since she last held a club.  She was able to recall some of the tips she learnt last year and had a nice swing and connected with the ball well (and given I had three younger kids to watch out for I left her to her own devices).

The other three in our party (aged between 9 and 7) had never hit a ball before.  And it showed!  It was a great experiment to see what their natural instinct was – and despite (in my eyes) their attempts looking hopeless, they had an absolute ball (and no one was injured and no equipment damaged!).

Given their enthusiasm – we will return and next time I will book in a 30-minute session with the pro.  I wouldn’t really want to leave them to compound their current bad habits any further – but I was glad to see them all so keen to have a go and so enthusiastic to keep going.  Knowing there were a few competitive types in our group I was quietly thrilled to see no one had a meltdown over missing the ball, hitting balls that just rolled off the tee and hitting balls that only went 1 metre!  I had quietly prepared myself to be issuing time outs and managing tantrums when, in fact, everyone just got on with the business of having another go.

Having a lesson at a range is a fantastic way to really hone in on specific skills as you can immediately repeat whilst slowly dissecting your stance etc.  As a child/teen I was was a golfer and all our lessons happened on the course – so each shot was slightly different (and obviously it’s important to be able to adapt to the course) but it made it a much longer process to get your head and body to coordinate the mechanics of the shot – I should point out that I am particularly untalented in all hand/eye/ball skills so I can only speak from my own experience!

Despite having not played much golf in the past 20 years – it was like riding a bike.  I gave the kids a little demo of how to stand and hold the club and hit a ball, and for the first time in my golfing history I had four little “Ohh Ohh”s of admiration!  Short lived, but I’ll take it.  The thing is, golf is something the kids can play with grandparents or themselves.  At the moment, my kids are too young (and unskilled) to roam a golf course alone, but it won’t be long before they are old enough.  And I can remember that age – it was one of the first kinds of “grown up” things my brother and I did on our own together.

Visiting a range might feel a little intimidating if it’s your first time to one (it was the first time for me and I did feel a little out of my depth momentarily), but the staff at Albert Park were very relaxed and friendly.  The rules were fairly basic – mostly it was your own common sense that you needed to employ to remain safe.  With the kids I had to remind them that if their ball went onto the range (and that included ones that rolled off the edge onto the dirt) they were not to retrieve them and anyone that wasn’t having a turn needed to stand right back.

We were surrounded by players who knew what they were doing.  There was actually very little talking happening as people were focused on their golf practice.  And it was close quarters, so the sound of balls being hit was quite loud (and to me a little unnerving – when you play on a course you wouldn’t even stand this close to a player teeing off).  So when the kids weren’t having a go I was very keen for them to stand right back.  Being a Saturday afternoon, it was quite busy – but we did get two spaces which meant the kids took alternating turns.

After we used up the 150 balls on the driving range (which took about an hour) we had a turn on the putting green.  There was no charge to use the putting green and we were able to borrow putters and balls.  The kids spent an easy 30 minutes putting.  There was a mother with her (at a guess, as he appeared to be wearing a nappy) two-year-old doing putting practice and then chipping practice (there was another area to practice chipping which we didn’t explore).  I have to say I was transfixed by this child who was so quietly and diligently practicing over and over his shots (some of which were really good) without any interaction with his mother.  I looked on with awe – in between charging over to my 7-year-old on multiple occasions to remind him this wasn’t a cricket game and please bring down the shouting voice to speaking voice level…

Looking for more ideas for junior and beginner golfers?  Check out this list: