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Ideal Practice Area

By: Geoff Shackelford

While old-school simplicity has been held up for most of our ideal settings, traditional values must be set aside for the prototypical practice area. After all, practice is a modern invention that many find a relaxing diversion from the office and other stresses. Some attention-span-deprived golfers even prefer a bucket of balls over an actual round. 
    
The ideal practice tee faces away from the setting sun since most serious range work takes place later in the day. The tee should never let the prevailing wind arrive from left-to-right, since most golfers are righthanded. We have enough trouble fighting a slice and do not need a practice area to make matters worse.
    
The tee provides ample space for hitting shots off a sand-based platform, which is easier on the hands, wrists and shoulders than heavier soils. Beside the primary tee, a rear tee is offered for lessons, clinics, more privacy or use in unusual wind conditions. A video building placed unobtrusively to the side offers more advanced instruction while also providing a restroom, rain shelter and storage facility for teaching gadgets.
    
Homemade chairs and bag stands give the teelines a distinctive look, with some sort of clever club-cleaning system provided as well. Please, no ropes and dividing boards to tell us where to hit. Simple painted lines will do.
    
Range targets mimic the look and feel of the club’s course architecture, right down to the bunker style and grassing selection. The targets are constructed to be visible from both ends. 
    
A separate practice green, bunker and fairway are offered to simulate shots under 100 yards, while a sizeable putting green and nine-hole par-3 course provide juniors with ideal learning grounds. If designed with character, such a short course will become a must-stop for accomplished players who bring along three clubs to settle postround wagers while enjoying competitive fun on an intimate scale. 
    
While it would be nice to locate such a facility close to the clubhouse, the proper practice area needs more space than most land planners are willing to give up around the main facility. So, as at the ideal practice area that can be found at Long Island’s Friar’s Head (pictured), there is nothing wrong with a short drive that makes practice an experience no less grand than the adventurous golf played on its neighboring layout.

Next: Ideal Score Card

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