A golf driving range is a perfect place to spend an afternoon perfecting your game.
However, there are times when the weather can get in the way of our golf game and keep us from being able to practice.
If you ever wondered if your local driving range will be open even if the golf course is closed, or if there is a bit of rain, we have you covered with the information you need.
Golf driving ranges are open quite a bit more than you may think.
Are Driving Ranges Open In The Rain?
Yes, a golf driving range should be open in the rain.
There are certain conditions like lightning or pooling water that could cause the driving range to shut down, but for the most part, it will remain open even in poor weather conditions.
Certain factors will determine whether or not your driving range stays open.
These will include the type of hitting area, whether or not there is coverage, forecast/radar, the ability to operate the driving range picker.
1. Type Of Hitting Surface
Most golfers will hit from a mat when at the driving range.
Some driving ranges have a grass tee to hit from, and these tend to be quite popular.
The grass tee is a great way to practice your game because it most closely emulates the conditions on the golf course.
Grass driving ranges typically have to shut down faster when it rains than a driving range with mats.
This has to do with the way that the water pools and how it will impact the golfers who are hitting.
For instance, if you hit a shot and you hit slightly behind the ball, when it is wet and muddy, the golf ball will hardly move forward, but large clumps of dirt will fly.
The grass will take a long time to recover when something like this happens, and it is essential that golfers do not do too much damage to the turf.
If you really beat up the grass at your favorite driving range, it can take weeks for it to come back, and everyone will be without the ability to practice on the grass.
Overall, the chance of you getting rained out on the driving range will be much lower if you go and practice on mats.
2. Covered Vs. Uncovered Driving Range
Some driving ranges have a covered hitting area.
The covered area of the driving range will allow you to hit balls at almost any time.
Of course, this will likely get called off if you are playing golf and there is some lightning in the area.
Even in a covered area, you are not safe to hit golf balls in the lightning.
The covered area of a driving range tends to take much less wear and tear, and therefore, it will hold up quite a bit longer when the weather turns bad.
After a rainout on the course, a local range with a covered hitting area could very well still be open.
Sometimes if a driving range sees that there is a big storm coming or if there is lightning in the area, they will make an adjustment and close down part of the rain.
The forecast is a significant consideration when it comes to the golf course and whether or not it makes sense for them to keep things open.
Although you may still be willing to get out there and play, if you are the only one, chances are the golf course will shut down.
The entire course has to usually have a chance to open back up and become playable for things to open back up to the public.
Overall, you can expect to have the radar have a major impact on whether or not your driving range is going to remain open.
4. Driving Range Picker
Here is a major reason golf courses will close their driving range, and it is one that many amateur golfers will never even consider.
The only way that we can get the golf balls that we need to hit is by using a driving range picker.
The picker travels around the range and grabs all the golf balls that we have recently hit.
With the use of this picker, it is easy to get the golf balls cleaned up and put back in the bucket.
Golfers need to keep in mind that once all the golf balls are hit, someone will need to go and pick them up and bring them in.
If the driving range picker is not able to travel around on the range because it is too wet or the conditions are unsafe, then the driving range will shut down.
Essentially, if there are no golf balls left to hit, we can’t expect that the driving range will keep the doors open.
If there has been a lot of rain and the grass is very wet or flooded, the picker will get stuck.
As you can imagine, when the picker gets loaded down with golf balls, there is an excellent chance that it is heavy.
When the picker is heavy like this, the overall weight can be a bit too much and the range will end up loaded with golf balls and no machine to pick them up.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of the golf professional and their staff the next time you are mad about the driving range being closed.
What Do Golf Courses Do When It Rains?
Now that you know what driving ranges do when it rains, it’s time to look at what the golf course might do.
There are many times when the golf course and the driving range will go hand in hand, but then again, you may find other times when the driving range does one thing and the golf course does another.
The first thing a golf course will do when it starts to rain is to begin evaluating what the best decisions are to make for themselves and the players on the course.
Here are a few things that a golf course will consider if the weather does take a turn for the worst.
The first and most important thing that golf courses will think about is the safety of their staff and players.
If there is lightning in the area, everyone will be called off the golf course.
Golf courses use advanced weather and radar systems to help them track any kind of lightning in the area.
If anything is nearby, the alarms will be sounded, and everyone will need to clear the golf course.
In addition, any workers who are still on the golf course need to get off as soon as possible.
Holding equipment and dealing with the rain on the golf course with lightning makes for a very bad combination.
The safety of players will heavily influence the first decision for golf courses.
If it is deemed that rain is the only issue and the safety of the players is not a concern, then the golf course will look at some other factors.
2. Conditions On The Golf Course
What are the conditions lie on the golf course?
Is it a muddy mess?
Was the golf course super dry, and it actually needed some water?
These are the things that are considered when it starts to rain, and many golf courses will have the superintendent head out to the course to see if this is something that will be a good idea.
Golf courses that are going to risk turf damage may tell all golf carts that they must stay on the path.
In addition, there could be times when the golf course says that certain holes are completely closed because the grass is too wet.
Golf carts sliding on the turf will do a number to the grass and end up costing golfers weeks of nonplaying time before they can get back out on the golf course.
Although it may be annoying to get off the golf course on a rainy day, it is certainly better than losing the golf course for the next few weeks.
Golf courses are in business to make money.
They will have to manage the expenses as well as the revenue and make sure that it makes sense to keep the golf course open.
If they have seven staff members waiting for three people to finish a round of golf, it clearly does not make sense to keep the course open.
This is when you will often see golf courses saying that those who are on the course can finish, but no new rounds can tee off.
For the most part, it is rare for a golf course to shut down like this unless the forecast is really bad.
Essentially, if they think they may only do a few rounds the rest of the day, the professional staff may shut the shop down so that staff can go home and revenue can be preserved.
Sometimes there is a special event going on out on the course.
If this is a tournament or an outing, it will often make sense to let them finish a bit of their time on the course before you call off things completely.
Events can be challenging to make up.
This is especially the case if the golf course was shut down for the event.
If you are playing in a tournament or event and the weather gets a little rough, make sure that you are prepared with the proper gear.
Many times, the turn in the weather won’t be enough to clear the course because of the inconvenience, and the administrators will push to ensure that all golfers get through their rounds.
Having rain gloves and a rain suit in your bag will certainly help in situations like this one.
Is It Okay To Play Golf In The Rain?
It is entirely okay to play golf in the rain, as long as the golf course is open.
If there are no restrictions on the golf course, and they are allowing players to enjoy a round of golf, then you can keep playing in the rain without issue.
If, however, the golf course has decided that the course or the players could be hurt by going out to play, then it is not okay to play golf in the rain.
Some great players will tell you that playing golf in the rain is actually more enjoyable than playing golf in the wind.
Once you learn how to play golf in the rain and you have the right equipment in place, then you should try and get out and play a round in the rain.
Sometimes you will be so focused on keeping your hands dry and your clubs clean that you will end up not quite so stressed about the actual golf shots you are hitting.
In addition, the course will soften a bit, and this will improve the overall ability you have to stop the ball on the green.
If you want to hit it close, a nice soft green is a place to get it done.
Most golfers find that it can take an extra club to get the ball to the green, and you may lose a few yards on your driver, but overall, playing golf in the rain is quite possible.
Do Golf Courses Have Rain Delays?
Golf courses and driving ranges can have rain delays.
Since these courses have great weather detection devices, it is easy for them to see what type of conditions they have coming their way.
For instance, if there is a solid green mass of rain coming across the state, the golf course may just decide to wait a few hours until they open up the course again.
These rain delays will typically be an hour or so, and then the golf course staff will make a decision about whether or not they can open up the course for play again.
A rain delay is not a reason to leave a golf course, although some will give you a refund for your greens fees.
If you don’t feel like waiting for the course to open back up, you can certainly talk with the pro shop about getting a credit for all or part of your round.
Most courses will allow this as long as you have only played a few holes.
Sometimes you can get a credit for nine holes.
Overall, the driving range will likely not refund you if you don’t hit all the golf balls and the rain comes in.
Make sure to check the weather before heading out to practice.