As life has increased, golf has decreased for my man, Patrick. He developed his golf habit as a teenaged caddy at Annandale Country Club in Pasadena. He played three times a week then. Now he’s lucky if he can get in one outing a year with his brothers. That annual event is approaching, and his game is rusty. So I looked into where he could get some practice without spending six hours and 60 bucks on rounds of golf.
I found an interesting option in the Sorrento Canyon Golf Center in Sorrento Valley (sorrentogolfcenter.com; 858-677-0033). “We have automatic ball feeds,” explained a young man on the phone. “You dump your balls into a hopper, and they automatically come up on a tee. You can adjust the tee to four different heights or you can hit them off the deck with irons. You don’t have to be bending over to tee your ball up every time — it automatically comes right up, ready to be hit.”
Sorrento Canyon Golf sells practice balls in three sizes of buckets: 45 balls for $7, 90 balls for $10, and 180 balls for $16. The range is lighted, there are 37 hitting bays, and the last ball is sold one hour before closing (8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday).
“We have an 18-hole putting course, which is tough,” continued the rep, “and a chipping area and one fairly large practice putting green. We rent clubs for a dollar, and we have range cards that you can purchase. You load the card up with a predetermined amount of money, and you get a discount with that. And then you don’t have to come in the shop every time to get balls. You just take the card right to the machine and slide it in and make your selection.”
“We have eight full-time PGA Class A professionals that do our teaching,” touted the rep from Stadium Golf Center & Batting Cages in Serra Mesa (stadiumgolfcenter.com; 858-277-6667). Stadium Golf has 72 lighted grass and artificial-mat hitting stations, plus three chipping and pitching greens with a sand bunker. Clubs rent for $2; free for juniors or with a golf lesson. Prices for mats run 45 balls for $8, 80 balls for $9, 120 balls for $10.50, 200 balls for $19. It’s $1.50 more to hit off the grass. Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Del Mar Golf Center (delmargolfcenter.com; 858-481-0363) is a lit facility with 65 tee stations. “We have four different-size buckets,” offered the representative, “ranging from $7 to $13. The smallest bucket has 45 balls; the biggest 150. You are hitting off grass and AstroTurf. The range is over 300 yards.” For those who come without clubs, “We have free loaners. We also have three chipping greens, a putting green, and two sand bunkers.” Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.
The Balboa Park Golf Course (619-239-1660) offers buckets of 35 balls for $5 or 75 balls for $7. “There is a large putting green,” said the rep, “and there are two chipping areas. We have about 15 spaces for driving, but it is not lit. The driving-range hours are 8 a.m. until a half hour before sunset, so it changes daily based on the sunset time. You hit off mats, and the range is 275 yards.”
Riverwalk Golf Course (riverwalkgc.com/home.cfm; 619-296-4653) sells buckets of 60 balls for $6 or 100 balls for $10 for their half-grass, half-mat range. They do not rent clubs for driving-range practice. “We have a putting green, and we have lights. The range stays open until about 8:30 or 9 p.m.”
The Mission Bay Golf Course (858-581-7880) offers a night-lit, 330-yard range, plus putting and chipping areas. “The $10 bucket has approximately 100 balls, the $8 has approximately 75, and the $6 approximately 45. We have 30 driving spots, and we have grass and AstroTurf.” This site offers rental clubs. Last ball hit, 8:30 p.m.
The Bonita Golf Center (619-426-2069) is open from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The rates: “The small size, about 40 balls, is $5; the medium is $7; large is $9; and the jumbo, about 350 balls, is $22. We have about a hundred spaces, both grass and AstroTurf, and we offer club rentals. The range is about 280 yards.”