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Driving Range

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What kind of money do you make opening a driving range? I was thinking about starting one as a sort of side job when I get out of college. It seems like a good idea to me seeing as how its pretty much all profit after you buy your balls, land, range picker, etc. Is it worth it?
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What kind of money do you make opening a driving range? I was thinking about starting one as a sort of side job when I get out of college. It seems like a good idea to me seeing as how its pretty much all profit after you buy your balls, land, range picker, etc. Is it worth it?

Watch Tin Cup.

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It depends, if you are talking about starting something in a major city, land is crazy expensive. At 10 bucks a bucket you had better sell some golf shirts. Not to pour cold water on the idea, its doable. You just mentioned "pay off the land", kind of casually and 3 million dollars worth of property would be a hell of a start up. If you can find cheaper land away from the city, then you have the issue of getting people out to hit balls. Figure out ways to supplement the range: batting cage? Golf equipment sales? Lessons? Build a strip center on the lot and rent it out to a Subway...you get the idea. Good luck...
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My friend had one. He paid about 5000$ for everything (used), and already had the land. Depending on the population near you and demand for a range, you can make from nothing to a fortune. Its a gamble.
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Here in my town an owner has an automatic ball dispenser and a token machine. All he does is collect balls every couple days and mows the lawn. Pretty much he just collects his cash and refills the machine and that's about it. He's a doctor so this is just a sideline for him.
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Here in my town an owner has an automatic ball dispenser and a token machine. All he does is collect balls every couple days and mows the lawn. Pretty much he just collects his cash and refills the machine and that's about it. He's a doctor so this is just a sideline for him.

That sounds like a good idea. Take employees out of the picture, which makes things less complicated. But I guess it depends on property and location. Starting a business is more complicated than it needs to be, especially in the U.S.

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It's a lot more work than it sounds, especially if you want the range to be nice, not just a dirt pasture. There is a lighted range in San Antonio that has live music and a bar during the summer time. That place is hopping on the weekends. All I can say is people want to hit good golf balls off of good grass to a range that is clean, neat and not a dust bowl. It takes money and some know how to make a driving range make a profit.
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if u're anywhere where there is a winter...u have to be able to make it through 3-4 REALLY slow months...
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Here in my town an owner has an automatic ball dispenser and a token machine. All he does is collect balls every couple days and mows the lawn. Pretty much he just collects his cash and refills the machine and that's about it. He's a doctor so this is just a sideline for him.

Near my home there is one set up exactly like this. The guy already owned the land and just has a machine set up that you put $5, $10, $20 and you get a token per $5 then you get about 50 balls for the $5. Every time I go I see a couple people so I assume he makes at least $100 a day and if it only cost him $5,000 to invest for that he makes his money back in no time. He only picks up balls every other night I believe.

A lot will depend on location and how many ranges are within a certain radius of the place you are looking at. I would say finding land will be the hardest thing to tackle. But $100 a day will get you $36,500 a year (before it is taxed of course)...
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Do they have people around all day at these auto ranges? I would think there would have to be to stop theft of ball and such
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I'm sure there is some theft, but range balls are typically low quality Top Flight balls with the stripes. They are pretty cheap, especially when bought in bulk. Ten to fifteen cents a piece, if not less. If a person steals five balls from a $10 bucket, it isn't the difference between breaking even and being in the red.*

Additionally, many of the driving ranges with attendants have clubs that you can borrow and use. If the entire range is on autopilot, there won't be any clubs to borrow and there won't be anybody who doesn't own clubs there.
I would say this puts a large dent into the theft problem, but doesn't solve it based on the number of range balls I find in the water at local course. But maybe my perception of golfers and non-golfers is skewed.

Finally, the costs of security cameras and recording devices has gone down and even a 5 camera system isn't much when you are buying $15k in land, putting up a small building and buying all the equipment.


* I don't condone stealing.
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My course has a range servant, where you can use a credit card or use tokens, or you can get a member ship for a year for $175 and you get unlimited balls. This machines shuts off at 7:00pm to prevent theft
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If a person steals five balls from a $10 bucket

I can't imagine playing with range balls, you'd have to be a pretty big redneck to do that. I'm not that good of a player but even Top Flite D2's at about $1 a ball feel infinitely better than range balls.

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i think you'd have to have a real feel for you market...
there is only 1 range only facility here in my area and to make any money they have a mini golf course and a batting cage with an arcade inside the building... so i compare it to a family fun center... the range imo is a rip off... the matts are tore up... the balls are expensive... the grass tee area is never open... its very short 200yrds... and there are about 7 courses with much much better ranges all within a 5-10 min drive away
every course around here (there are alot) has their own range and the prices for a bucket/ bag are pretty reasonable...
so first off... you'd have to anticipate the demand for a range only facility...
then you'd have to factor in all the costs as opposed to the projected earnings...
there is a great executive course here that i normally wouldnt play but their range is pretty nice(heated/lit/grass and matts)... so add a decent short game course to a nice practice facility and its worth going to... especially when the price is really cheap... that place is always busy... and its location is right off the hwy...
you have to ask yourself is it worth it and do you think you can pull it off
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I can't imagine playing with range balls, you'd have to be a pretty big redneck to do that. I'm not that good of a player but even Top Flite D2's at about $1 a ball feel infinitely better than range balls.

I agree, but every time I play the local muni I find at least three range balls. I like to bring them back to the range and switch them for premium balls that people hit when they just want to hit one more ball. I have a friend that owns a range and he said that people do it all the time. They want to hit just one more ball, so instead of asking for one more ball they take a mid-priced ball out of their bag and hit it onto the range.
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If you don't own the land then it's impossible around here it's 800k for 0.5 acres in a good area! And like 2.5 million for 12 acres in a so so area.

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Originally Posted by Mike Boatright

If you don't own the land then it's impossible around here it's 800k for 0.5 acres in a good area! And like 2.5 million for 12 acres in a so so area.

Damn, I paid $19k for my 10 acres.  Guess I got a pretty decent deal!

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