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Golf Range Revolution

September 11, 2023

Golf Range Revolution

So I came across this article last week and it got me to thinking, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Personally, I have great memories growing up on the range with my Dad and Brother hitting balls and working on our games. Dad was our first coach! We respected the people around us, and Dad passed on his love of the game to us.

Reddit Golf Content of the Week: Don't be the range police

By Shane Ryan
Late at night, when normal human beings are sleeping, one writer spends literal hours on Reddit Golf, a treasure trove of humor, whining, equipment scores, outright lies and occasionally some great advice. It also led him, once upon a time, to Bucket Hat Guy. Each Friday, he will bring the site's best content to you, so that you can live a normal life.
Let me go on record as someone who has written about the plight of the club pro—the long hours, the occasionally miserly pay, and the total lack of work-life balance. I'm very much on their side in the grand scheme, and it's more apparent than ever that things have to change to avoid a massive crisis in the industry. That's my big disclaimer, because today we're going to pile on an anonymous course employee for an egregious breach of common sense.
This week, Reddit user PitcherPlant1 saw something on the driving range that he couldn't keep to himself. He took his story to r/golf, under the title "Driving range employee complaining about 'lessons'?." Here's the short post:

I went to a new range today, and there was a dad giving his son (looked 13-14) lessons next to me. An employee showed up, and told the guy he needed to either stop "teaching", or leave. He explained it was his son, and they told him it was still "range theft". I understand why ranges don't let private instructors come in and compete with them for lessons, but stopping family/friends/informal instruction seems absurd. Have I just been in a bubble at my regular range, or is this strict level of enforcement common?  
Look, we could start off being reasonable here, and making the point that it's bad form to give lessons to clients at a driving range when you have no affiliation with the place and haven't asked permission. Obviously this would never fly at a normal course or club, because they already have their own pros, but even at an independent driving range there are designated instructors. In general, this sort of instructional "squatting" is both frowned upon and forbidden, because to some extent you're taking money out of the pockets of the pros.
BUT THIS IS VERY DIFFERENT.
Sorry for the caps, but come on, a dad is allowed to give some tips to his son! The idea of an employee trying to put the kibosh on a guy literally growing the game with his own offspring is uniquely enraging. Not only is it utterly missing the point of the "range theft" rules, but it's taking a new golfer and hand-delivering him a terrible experience. The lesson that kid took away is likely that golf is a territorial and unfriendly sport with punitive rules about the smallest infractions. I hope the dad managed to reframe things in a positive light so that whatever interest the kid had in the game isn't totally squashed.
Luckily, r/Golf had more sense than this vigilante range employee. Here's a sample of the top responses:

1. "Berating a father for helping their son seems like a good way to lose business" (this spawned an excellent response: "It's also a great way to let the world know that you'll be alone forever and have accepted it as fate")
2. "Seems like a great way to get some customers to never return and bad mouth your driving range to every golfer they know."
3. "That's absolutely ridiculous and if I were that dad, I'd be avoiding that course if at all possible"
4. "If a course or range is worried about a father teaching his son how to golf.. I would reconsider where my money was spent"
And my personal favorites:
5. "I'd offer to give the range a cut of what my son pays me for his lessons."
6. "Range theft is so brain dead that I’m struggling to believe a human being said that seriously."
 
"That’s ridiculous. Reminds me of the time I was at range once and almost same thing happened. Father giving his young son swing lesson. Kid was barely 10 years old and dad wasn’t Butch Harmon. Guy next to him asks he stop talking to his son because he’s distracting him from practicing! I’m few stalls down shaking my head. Like WTF?! This is a driving range. This is the exact place a father should be giving his child a lesson. And you don’t need absolute silence while practicing at a range. Some people."
There were also a lot of calls to "name and shame" the range, but the original poster refused, saying, "I don't think it's a good idea to name the driving range. I don't want to potentially hurt someone's business who may have no idea one of their employees behaved like a d-bag control freak."
Which we can all respect. But while we should all value and respect our golf industry employees (far more than we are now, in fact), we can also agree that there are times when someone can go too far and ruin the good vibes. Golf is hard enough for a new player without someone needlessly leaving you with a sour taste. Let the dads teach, let the kids play, and if we have to experience a bit of misery, let it come from the game itself.

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