The 15 most annoying things golfers do on the driving range

Welcome to Play Smart, a game-improvement column that drops every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Director of Game Improvement content Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.

A few weeks ago we published an article sharing a few basic etiquette rules for the next time you’re at the driving range. The feedback I received from golfers was overwhelming and, frankly, a little surprising. Golfers really take seriously their driving range etiquette, and had plenty more advice to offer.

Usually I like to use this column to focus on the science of game improvement, but given that it’s Friday and you may be heading to the range yourself this weekend, I thought we’d shift gears temporarily and focus instead on a social science: etiquette.

For that, I turned to the members of our How To Hit Every Shot Instruction Facebook group (which you can join for free right here!). I asked them for the most annoying things golfers do on the driving range — and how to avoid them.

Here’s what they came back with….

1. Slam their club

Nobody cares if your range session isn’t going to plan, or if you’re preparing for a big match this weekend and not hitting it well. Keep your composure, and don’t cause a scene by slamming your club after every bad shot. You’re probably not good enough to be acting that way, anyway.

2. Listen to music on speaker

Listening to music while you practice is fine — as long as you use headphones. Even on the lowest setting, the golfers next to you are going to be able to hear it, which isn’t fair. You may have terrible taste in music.

3. No personal space

Along those lines, keep in mind that the driving range is a shared space, which means golfers need to respect boundaries. That means not encroaching onto other golfers’ spaces and, crucially, not leaving your clubs all over the place so they flow into other people’s way.

4. Set up behind other golfers

Driving range stations are arranged in a straight line for a very specific reason: because if and when somebody gets the shanks, they’re not putting golfers in harms way. When you break that line in search for a nicer patch of grass behind you, one solitary shank could prove disastrous and dangerous. That’s why golfers find line-breakers so annoying.

5. Teeing up in front of the mat

It’s always a little disappointing when you get to the range, hoping to hit off a nice patch of grass, and find the stations set up on mats instead. But it’s done for good reason: To protect the grass so you have a better range for the long term. So don’t be inconsiderate and hit a few drives from the grass in front of you, no matter how much you want to. Obey the rules.

6. Talk on cell phones

Something else that golfers universally hate on the driving range? People who talk on cell phones. The range is a place to practice, not dilly-dally talking on the phone. It’s one or the other, so choose wisely.

7. Unsolicited coaching advice

Another thing that golfers universally can’t stand is unsolicited advice from their fellow golfers on the range. I’m fine with golfers asking a question or two if they spot a golfer whose swing they admire, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Don’t parachute-in unannounced with some ‘helpful’ tips. They’re not wanted.

8. They leave their spot

This is even more egregious when the range is busy. But even if the range isn’t busy, don’t set up at a spot and then leave. It’s rude and inconsiderate. You’re not reserving a chair at the pool. Either use your spot to hit balls or leave.

9. Smoking

This one makes sense, but I was a little surprised to see how many people listed smoking as one of the most annoying things their fellow golfers do. Apparently more people smoke on the driving range than I thought. But if you’re the smoker reading this, keep in mind that golfers around you don’t want to practice amid a bunch of second-hand smoke.

10. Steal range balls

Ranges at fancy courses often have nice, course-quality golf balls. No, this does not mean you should steal those golf balls, which is both tacky and property theft.

11. Collect their topped golf balls

If you topped a golf shot, don’t run onto the range and try to collect it. It’s not only dangerous for you, but it has a knock-on effect where other golfers on the range have to stop what they’re doing to account for your actions.

12. Happy Gilmore swings

Happy Gilmore swings are fun, but they can also go terribly wrong. Swinging wildly on the range can lead to golf clubs that go flying and balls that go sideways. For everyone’s piece of mind, don’t do it on a busy driving range.

13. Leaving range stall a mess

Another thing that golfers find super annoying? When golfers leave the range after not cleaning up. That means leaving range baskets un-returned and empty bottles strewn all over the place. Don’t be that golfer.

14. Hitting from restricted areas

Spot some nice grass where the local pro usually teaches lessons? No, that is not an invitation to hit balls there, and yes, they do mind.

15. Not organizing your divots

And finally, the absolute cardinal rule if driving range etiquette: If you’re off mats, you don’t need to worry. But if you’re on a grass range, burn the image above into your memory. The golfer using the range after you will thank you.

To add more pop to your swing, get a driver fitting from the experts at our sister company, True Spec Golf.

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.