We’ve done the hard work and provided you with a guide on how to start a driving range. If you were ever thinking about opening one, you’re exactly where you should be. This guide will help you navigate the popular world of driving ranges today, teach you how to avoid certain risks, and steer you toward the big bucks.
Before you do anything else, you need to do your research. You need to look into the business of driving ranges before putting your money into one. Some questions you should be asking before you start are:
Are Driving Ranges Profitable?
Whether a driving range is profitable or not isn’t an easy question to answer. So many things can affect it—location, competition, and the services you offer.
The ideal location is somewhere close to high-traffic and busy areas. You want to make sure that you don’t have a lot of competition. The competition that’s already established can kill your business immediately.
The more services you offer, the more profit you’ll make. People will be drawn in more by entertainment and luxury features. A sports bar, a restaurant, a venue for events, even a golf pro for lessons!
The fact is that your driving range can make anywhere between $40,000 to $2.9 million annually. If you do everything right, you could potentially see big profits.
How Many Acres Do You Need for A Driving Range?
Assuming you’re building a classic, outdoor driving range and not a golf simulator, between 15-20 acres is typical—enough space for a big range with room for a building offering other services.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Driving Range?
A 15-to-20-acre plot of land could cost anywhere from $50,000 to a cool million depending on the location.
Including the cost of a building and equipment, anywhere from $100,000 for a simple, no-frills driving range to $2 million for a high-tech, entertainment center.
Business Plan for Your Driving Range
Before taking further action, you would be smart to plan everything out.
What Should You Name Your Driving Range?
Whatever you name your driving range should be catchy, fun, and tell customers what the business is. TopGolf for example, it’s not hard to figure out what kind of business it is from the name alone.
Make sure that the business name isn’t already taken. Buy the domain name and then decide if you want to be a sole proprietor, an LLC, a corporation, or a partnership? Look into each business entity or talk to a CPA and decide which would be the most beneficial for you.
What’s An Ideal Location for A Driving Range?
As mentioned above, location is everything. You don’t want your business to be in a dead area or so far from the action that nobody knows about it or wants to drive out that far.
You also don’t want to be constantly competing with the driving range down the road. Find a location in a popular area surrounded by your target market with no damaging competition nearby.
What Makes a Good Driving Range?
The thing that makes a good driving range is the services that it offers. Customers will gravitate toward the business that gives them what they want. Before ever stepping foot into a bank for that loan, decide what kind of driving range you want and, for that, you need to figure out your target market.
First, you have classic driving ranges.
Designed for golfers who just want a place to practice in their spare time and get ready for their weekly round of golf with friends, colleagues, or business partners. You’ll even see them out there early in the morning taking a few warm-up swings before their round.
Then you have entertainment-centric driving ranges for people who aren’t so serious about golf. People that like to grab a beer or cocktail, a burger, wings, and just have a great night out with their friends. They enjoy a setting that caters to them with many entertainment options beyond just the driving range, like a sports bar.
Another group of people that would prefer a more laid-back driving range is families. Driving ranges are fun for the whole family and can even be suitable for really young kids.
It might not necessarily be fun to take your kids to a driving range with people who are there to legitimately practice their swing so a place like TopGolf or BigShots Golf would appeal to them a lot more.
The third option for a driving range is probably the most unusual one.
This one isn’t even outside. Or real golf. It’s a golf simulation. This can appeal to many different kinds of people for many reasons. It can appeal to the younger crowd and families for the entertainment factor. And it can appeal to serious golfers as well; the technology has gotten so good that practicing with a golf simulator is quite accurate.
What Kind of Business Are You Going to Open?
Now that you’ve figured out what kind of driving range you want to start and what your target market is, you have to decide whether you’re going to start from scratch, buy an established business, or franchise. Here are some pros and cons for each:
Should You Start A Driving Range From Scratch?
- You make your own rules.
- You make your own schedule.
- No one can tell you what to do and how to do it.
- If it’s a success, you reap the most reward financially. You might even get to be your own franchise someday.
- You take the biggest risk. If it’s a failure, you take the biggest hit.
- Start-up costs can be astronomical.
- You don’t have an established name and reputation.
Buying an established business
- Comes with a built-in customer base.
- You don’t have to worry about buying the right equipment.
- The driving range and building are already there.
- You’ll likely inherit suppliers from the previous owners.
- If you change the name, you risk losing customers that the business already has a relationship with.
- Although you don’t have to buy all of the equipment up-front, the cost of them might still be considered in the price.
- Even after getting inspectors and looking at the place yourself, there is still a possibility of the place not being in as good a shape as advertised.
- There is an existing business model to follow.
- You usually don’t have to go looking for equipment suppliers since the company already has contracts with specific ones.
- The name already has a reputation and will draw customers in.
- You don’t have to worry about marketing as the company takes care of that.
- You also don’t have to think about selling when you decide to pack it in. The company likely has specific buyers in mind and will make the process easy.
- Purchasing a franchise is expensive, running anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million, and sometimes significantly more.
- Then you have fees that you have to continue paying the franchisor.
- You don’t have much freedom in the way you operate the business.
- The driving range company decides almost everything for you, even atmosphere and aesthetics are up to the company.
Once all of these have been decided, then you can head to the bank or investors with your business plan in hand.
Driving Range Franchise Opportunities
It seems like the focus these days of driving range franchises is the entertainment aspect. Here are the top franchise opportunities for driving ranges in the US today.
TopGolf is the number one driving range in the USA today. They mix high-tech with classic to give you the full experience.
They have a classic, outdoor ranges with a slew of technological benefits, like temperature-controlled bays and an automatic ball dispenser to take your experience up a notch.
They have a big focus on the entertainment factor and luring customers in with the promise of a good time. Sports bars, event areas to rent out, and they even offer lessons!
To open a franchise with TopGolf, you must have an initial investment of at least $18 million. Quite steep when compared to other companies but they are an established name with a guaranteed customer base.
X-Golf is also a driving range but not quite like TopGolf. Instead of physical driving ranges, they have simulators. They are an indoor golf center and put a heavy focus on the technology in their simulators.
At X-Golf, you can be a beginner or a pro and you’ll benefit from their technology; it’ll feel like you’re actually out on the range.
To open a franchise with X-Golf, you can expect to spend $30,000 for the franchise fee and a total investment of $100,000.
Driving Ranges have become a big business. While it can be risky and may cost quite a bit to get into that business, between the land and all the other start-up costs, the reward can be very high.
So use this guide to learn the way and avoid the risk while you jump in and make the big bucks.