Chelsea Piers, NY: Bigger is Better

Bigger is better. It’s a credo followed by many hustle and bustle consumers in the United States of America. Skyscraper junkies get their fix from the jaw-dropping city skylines of New York City and Chicago.

Though this size mentality can take shape in less palatable forms.

Fast food chains compete to see who has the biggest jumbo-sized drinks while everyday Americans are testing the confines of regular-sized driving lanes with outrageously large pick-up trucks. In golfing circles size does matter.

Chelsea Piers Driving Range Chelsea Piers Driving Range

From long rough to long layouts, there is a focus on size that can be detrimental to the game. But on a trip to New York last month I found it can put a city driving range at the top of the tree.

Chelsea Piers Driving Range in Manhattan, New York is without doubt the most amazing golf driving range I’ve seen.

Resting on the Hudson River it already has a point of difference from Australia’s best driving ranges right off the bat. That piqued my curiosity and all I needed was the inspiration to go there.

Drinking at a crowded Manhattan sports bar one afternoon with two friends I found that inspiration. We sat stunned watching Tiger Woods’ miraculous final round chip-in at the Memorial Tournament.

After Woods’ clutch finish to equal Jack Nicklaus’ mark of 73 PGA Tour wins we hopped in a cab bound for Chelsea Piers. The only let down of the afternoon came when we arrived.

So popular is the 53-bay, four-level range, we had to wait a full hour for a hitting area to open up. Then again that’s no surprise when it’s the only proper driving range servicing the millions that inhabit Manhattan Island.

But the wait could have been worse. The shop has been designed as if it’s a mini clubhouse at a country club and the selection of reading in the foyer would rival that of any doctor’s surgery.

Once outside on the range, a 50-metre high wall of netting encasing the facility dominated my view. Rest assured hitting one ‘out of the park’ from the bottom level is not easy.

The range is only about 200 metres long and quite narrow. Most balls peel off into the side netting so it’s a good place to start if accuracy isn’t your forte. What puts further daylight between it and the archaic set ups at driving ranges all across Australia is technology.

There’s no bending down to tee up your ball at Chelsea Piers because each ball emerges from underground, sitting primed and ready on the tee. A machine also counts down how many balls you have left and lets you adjust the tee height.

One of my pet hates at a range is not having a long enough tee in the mat and having to lift it up to poke a longer one through.

Then, as a right-hander, I have to stomp down the right side of the mat because it has curled up off the ground.

I could go on pointing out the inadequacies with Australia’s driving ranges but I feel I’ve made my point. Australia’s driving ranges need to start thinking bigger.