The Range Manchester Review

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So I’m a little bit miffed that I’m writing a review of The Range in Manchester. Don’t get me wrong, as you’ll find out we had a great afternoon playing Pebble Beach here but I was hoping to be writing three course reviews from St Andrews instead.

 

However, “The Beast from The East” as she will be forever remembered came stomping across the UK to pretty much close every golf course in sight (not to mention every method of transport) meaning that St Andrews was closed for the weekend and we had to stick it out in Manchester.

 

Pre-Visit Thoughts

Honestly I’m not a biggest fan of golf simulators. I would always choose a round on a proper course ahead of a game on a simulator, however if you’re not heading indoors as an alternative to a round outside then they can be great fun.

 

The Range is pretty new to Manchester. It’s a different concept to most of the golf simulator places I’ve been before which are usually very casual places with coffee machines and maybe a bar on site. The Range is very much aimed at the Spinningfield clientele. If you don’t know Manchester, it’s basically the banking district for the city!

 

Looking on the website, you’ll see the prices are fairly steep – £75 per hour for a simulator. I’d typically pay £40 per hour at one of the other places I’d been before and sometimes even less if you get a decent offer on GroupOn. However, I was going to hold any judgements until I’d visited.

 

Upon Arrival

Although you’re paying top dollar to play here, it’s instantly noted when you walk through the door. The reception is more like a higher end restaurant / bar than a sports bar. The woman greeting us was also in a suit rather than an old ProQuip jacket!

 

If you’ve ever been on a golf simulator before, you’ll know the first thing that they aren’t very good for is putting, but the first thing you walk past at The Range an artificial putting green which is a nice touch.

 

The Range Putting Green

 

They offer lessons from a PGA pro here, so maybe they’re trying to reach the more serious golfer by including this.

 

You then walk through past the bar to the five simulators each which is curtained off to give you some privacy – again a nice touch I’ve not seen elsewhere.

 

The Game

When we got to our bay we were given 15 minutes or so to loosen up on the range, get some drinks in and run through a short tutorial on how the system worked.

 

Apparently there are over 100 of the best courses in the world available to play on the simulators. We wanted to play St Andrews Old based on our misfortune over the weekend but this unfortunately isn’t included in that list.

 

What is cool however is that you can plug real time weather into the game. This would have been a real treat with 40 mph winds and snow battering the Home of Golf, but in the end we elected for Pebble Beach on a still 27 degree afternoon instead, not a bad compromise!

 

The Range

 

The game itself was very enjoyable, it’s a great laugh if you’re with a group of mates. The simulators were great too as they are all GC2 Golf Simulators that collect data direct from the golf ball. This means you get higher levels of accuracy compared to other types of simulators that measure the ball after a couple of feet or so. In that sense there was only a handful of occasions where the flight path didn’t register.

 

There were nine of us in total so we shared two simulators between us and it took us about two hours to play nine holes each. On their website they reckon you can play 9 holes in 1 hour as a group of 4. However pretty much all of us were single figure golfers so I’m not sure how realistic that is, thought it could have been the regular excellent table service that distracted us a little.

 

You can also set different levels of “gimmies” which can speed / slow play down. We went for 20 ft which is pretty generous, but as mentioned putting can be arduous on any simulator. All the clubs we used were pretty much brand new, it would have been nice to have more options  but as it was nothing too serious they were more than fine.

 

Post game thoughts

Genuinely we all had a great time. It’s nice to know the option is there throughout winter when the courses are under three foot of snow or if you fancy a quick nine holes after work and getting to a course isn’t possible. It’s definitely something the city centre has been missing.

 

The bar alone was great. I’d even recommend it if you’re just up for a few drinks and not bothered about playing golf. Unfortunately we didn’t try the food, so there’s a reason for us to go back!