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September 2004

Golf Range Fencing

Mark Ledger of Hi-Nets takes a look at some of the issues relating to ball stop fencing

Although golf has its roots in the activities at St. Andrews in the 1800’s the emergence of golf ranges took place some decades later.

Since then several types of range have evolved, each with its own operating and commercial characteristics. Golf ranges can be:

a) Stand-alone
b) Stand-alone with short-game or other activity alongside
c) An adjunct to a golf course

Ownership types cover the complete spectrum from individual owner/operator through to a corporate-owned commercial investment.

In parallel with the technical development of golf clubs and balls there has been a change in the demands made by the golfer. Changes in personal aspiration and circumstances have seen the typical golf range move from being solely a place to practice golf to one that embraces other social activity.

Often there will be a bar/café or restaurant, retail outlet and leisure facilities. These all influence the character of the site and demands made by the paying-customer, his family, friends and associates. Golf ranges have shown they are here to stay and are an important part of the golfing spectrum. Purpose of Golf Ball-Stop Fencing The primary purpose of golf ball-stop fencing is to keep the golf-ball within the defined boundary. Secondary benefits include preventing those on foot from ‘wandering’ onto the live range.

Golf ranges provide the golfing customer with an opportunity to hit a golf ball from a range bay to reach an informal point or formal target on the terrain and within a defined boundary. The golfer may be doing this as general practice, warm-up prior to a game of golf or as a game in its own right. The ability of some golfers is such that they can send a ball outside the territorial limits of the range, without intent. Sometimes the deliberate intent of a golfer is to see whether the ball can land outside the boundary.

Is the Golfer the Culprit?

When a golf ball causes trouble the fact that the golfer holds the ‘smoking golf club’ the answer has to be yes. The question is whether the trouble was caused deliberately or accidentally?

Nature plays a part when a hit is affected by the wind and sometimes the bounce. There are also miss hit shots, which cause the ball to slice or hook and send it on an unintended trajectory. The aiming point may require the golfer attempt a very long hit which will challenge his technical performance and ability to play a consistent stroke. Some golfers will always try to hit the ball over the far end of the range, as a challenge. Technology

Equipment manufacturers continue to feed the golfing world with equipment capable of better performance. Club manufacturers, in particular, are creating problems for golf ranges. Range balls can be limited in flight, but it is almost impossible to prevent a customer using the latest driver. Graphite and titanium technology has given golfers of all abilities the opportunity to hit the ball further, with some of the new clubs designed to hit a ball from a much higher tee. The higher tees allow the golfer to hit the ball ‘on the up’ and send their most powerful shots considerably further. This is even more of a problem when the wind is behind and the player is hitting from the upper tier of a two-storey range.

Is The Golf Rrange Designer Innocent?
Human endeavour is often a combination of chance and compromise with, maybe, an element of hope. Accordingly the reasons for selecting a particular site as a golf range may not be optimal. When considering the fences required for a golf range the experience and understanding of the designer will be important. Some designers are the owners/operators themselves whilst new-build commercial investments will invariably involve the independent professional.
a) With regard to a particular plot of land the designer will need to reflect on:
• Dimensions of the site and range area
• Does the ground slope?
• Boundary layout
b) The designer will need to consider the requirements arising from the features sele


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