Golfers in the Austin metro area have fewer driving ranges to choose from now than a few years ago. Several practice centers in the region have closed during the seemingly endless boom years around central Texas.
But there are still plenty of options to hit balls in this fine golf town that was home to one of the world's greatest driving range fixtures, the legendary golf professional Harvey Penick.
Perhaps the surprising thing is that the best overall, publicly accessible facility is probably a municipal facility.
But first, an update, as a lot has changed in the area: The driving range at the flagship Golfsmith HQ closed when the homegrown company went bankrupt (the Arboretum location remains open but only has indoor hitting bays). In the south, the convenient Oak Hill Range off Highway 71 gave way to development. Northwest of Austin, Mr. Tee recently closed.
The only standalone ranges out there these days are well out in the rapidly developing boonies. Woodland Greens Golf Center is well north of town at FM 620 and Anderson Mill Rd.
Those in Round Rock near the main Dell Technologies campus can go to the Golf Driving Range Round Rock, which has 35 acres at its disposal, and is fully lighted. (The facility was at one time branded by David Leadbetter.)
For more evening opportunities to hit balls, TopGolf came to the Domain on Austin's northwest side just off Mopac in 2013. It's been a resounding success and the three-tiered range with numerous bars often tops the city's list of alcohol sellers many months.
For traditional driving ranges, the most convenient (and affordable) all-around facility would have to be south of town at Jimmy Clay-Roy Kizer, the 36-hole facility. Actually, it's 40 holes if you include the Joe Balander Short Course ($5 for adults to play all day). The facility received an upgrade in 2015 and is not only large, but has plenty of grass teeing areas. There are multiple putting and chipping greens as well, including sand bunkers.
East of Austin, Bluebonnet Hill and Shadow Glen both have driving ranges and good short game areas (Shadow Glen's is a little more complete). Harvey Penick Golf Campus is home to The First Tee and has a driving range and a beginner-friendly nine-hole course as well as three-hole pitch and putt.
South of Austin, Clay-Kizer is your best bet by far. It's also about ten minutes from the airport if you're looking to get in a few swings on departure or arrival day. Onion Creek Country Club has a great facility, but guests can only use it when they secure a public tee time. Otherwise, give Plum Creek Golf Club a look in Kyle, which is home to the Texas State University golf team.
In terms of resort-golf ranges, Omni Barton Creek Resort has a Golf Channel Academy at the Canyons Course and non-members can book lessons with their staff (there is another range shared by the Foothills and Cliffside courses at the main resort grounds).
Farther east about 10 miles past Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Wolfdancer Golf Club (part of the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines) has a fabulous range and practice area. But one other option near Bastrop is the Bear Country Golf range and Back 9 bar, located right off Highway 71 which has fun targets like rusted out cars to aim at.
A couple notable golf courses near the city center that DO NOT have a driving range are Riverside Golf Course (just a hitting net) and Hancock Golf Course (only a very small putting green).
One thing to keep an eye out for are "all you can practice" monthly passes at central Texas courses, like the City of Austin's "Rangegrinder" membership that is $50 per month and comes with unlimited balls and discounts on PM tee times. Other facilities like Avery Ranch and Teravista offer seasonal specials, especially in the summer months.
Hours and specials tend to change regularly during the season, so we'd recommend calling in advance or checking their websites for details.
Where is your favorite driving range around Austin? Let us know in the comments below.