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Golf practice facilities in Tampa Bay area

The Chi Chi Rodriguez sports and family complex in Clearwater has a driving range and practice facility.

RODNEY PAGE | Times

The Chi Chi Rodriguez sports and family complex in Clearwater has a driving range and practice facility.

Given the choice, most golfers would rather spend a sunny day on a neatly manicured course than pounding balls at a driving range. But if they really want to shave strokes off their game, they have to start with practice.

Sometimes it's better to spend time hitting irons and drivers and practicing 5-footers than losing balls on a course. A tee time or a scorecard isn't needed at a practice facility. And practice can be fit in before or after work in less than an hour.

Not all practice facilities are created equal. Certain criteria make some stand out from others.

The range: It should be full-sized, which allows golfers to hit every club in the bag, including driver. It should also have accurate yardage markers and, ideally, greens to aim at for golfers. The tee boxes should be grass, or the range should at least have a higher percentage of grass tees over artificial turf.

The greens: The facility should have not only a practice putting green but a chipping green as well. And ideally the chipping green should have a sand trap. Shots are saved around the green, and having a place to practice the short game is invaluable for a golfer looking to shave strokes.

The instructors: A serious practice facility has teaching professionals who are available for private lessons. The facility also should offer lessons for groups and juniors.

The amenities: Some of the best ranges have little things that set them apart. Some have covered tee boxes. Some have metal stands for propping up a bag. Some have pro shops that offer services from equipment to club repair.

A look at some Tampa Bay area practice facilities:

Tampa Golf Range and Learning Center

Where: 2508 N Lakeview Drive, Tampa; (813) 962-0201

Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. weekends

Web: tampagolfrange.com

Tee boxes: Grass and mats

Prices: Small bucket (45 balls), $5; jumbo bucket (220 balls), $17; savings cards and memberships available

Lessons: Available from teaching professional Philip Cole

Ace Golf Range

Where: 820 S Kings Ave., Brandon, (813) 651-4653; 12910 Boyette Road., Riverview, (813) 672-7750

Hours: Brandon, 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; Riverview, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat.-holidays, 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday

Web: ace-golf.com.

Tee boxes: Grass and mats; has practice putting and chipping greens

Prices: Small bucket (34 balls), $4; monster bucket (170 balls), ($14.25)

Lessons: Group and private lessons at both sites

Misc.: The Riverview site was voted one of the top 100 ranges in America by Golf Range magazine.

Tampa Bay Downs practice facility

Where: 11225 Racetrack Road, Tampa; (813) 854-4946

Hours: 10 a.m.-9:45 p.m. Mon.; 8:30 a.m.-9:45 p.m. Tues.-Sun.

Web: tampabaydowns.com.

Tee boxes: 45 grass tee stations, partially covered

Prices: Small bucket, $5; large bucket, $11

Lessons: Individual and group lessons; co-ed clinics 7:30-8:30 p.m. Thurs.; women-only clinics 7:30-8:30 p.m. Tues; cost $25 per person

Misc.: Voted one of top 100 ranges in America by Golf Range magazine

Chi Chi Rodriguez sports and family complex

Where: 2987 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater; (727) 216-6389

Hours: 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Mon.; 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Tues.-Sun.

Web: chichi.org

Tee boxes: Grass and mats, partially covered; has putting green and chipping green.

Prices: Large bucket, $10

Lessons: Given by PGA professional Tony Simpson; $35 for half-hour, $50 for hour. Those who take a lesson get a free greens fee at Chi Chi Rodriguez course across the street.

Someplace Else Driving Range

Where: 35332 SR 54, Zephyrhills; (813) 355-4855

Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily

Tee boxes: Grass and mat tees; practice greens being built

Prices: Small bucket, $4; jumbo bucket, $13

Lessons: Group and individual lessons

Missing Links Driving Range

Where: 1201 East Bay Drive, Largo; (727) 584-8088

Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily

Tee boxes: Grass and mat tees

Prices: Small bucket, $5; large bucket, $10

Lessons: Group and individual lessons

Blue Tees International

Where: 18240 County Line Road, Spring Hill; (352) 796-3197

Hours: 7 a.m. until dark

Tee boxes: Grass and mat tees

Prices: Small bucket (65 balls), $4; jumbo basket (400 balls), $15

Lessons: Individual lessons for adults and juniors

Tarpon Springs Driving Range

Where: 44098 U.S. 19 N, Tarpon Springs; (727) 784-7606

Hours: 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily

Tee boxes: Grass and mat tees; no practice green

Prices: Small bucket, $5; jumbo bucket, $11

Lessons: Group and individual lessons

Golf practice facilities in Tampa Bay area 09/22/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 8:51pm]
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