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Why waste part of your weekend? Swinging the clubs at night in Richmond is just as cool — and cheaper.

Duffers' Delight

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Golf has become so popular and expensive, you're lucky if you can get a tee time that's not so far off you'll have to dig into your retirement savings to play.

Of course, that's assuming you're willing to set aside a quarter of your waking weekend to begin with.

Instead, here's a list of the places you can whack and putt for an hour or so in the evenings for, oh, about a tenth of what you'd pay to sweat your butt off during the day. And the shanks, skulls, slices, flubs, hooks and worm-burners are so much less frustrating when you're not keeping score.

So hit a bucket of range balls and tell yourself that you're really just practicing up for a match next month, that you actually will play 18 at some point. That's what I do.

My utterly shameless routine begins after work with some free putting on the practice green at The Crossings out by Virginia Center Commons Mall. Then I work on my short game at The Crossings chipping green. If things are going well, I drive a couple miles up Route 1 to the Family Golf Center, which has a big, double-decker driving range with flags to aim at out there.

Once in a while, off the top deck, I'll even manage to hit a few balls over the back nets, which feels pretty good — a whole lot better than yelling "Fore!" out on some expensive course.

Start your own tradition at these Richmond-area driving ranges (and impress a date or mate with your putting stroke at these miniature golf courses, too):

Bobby Lopez Golf Academy
Driving range/miniature golf
10239 Hull Street Road
379-7946Map It

Bogeys Sports Park
Driving range/miniature golf
1675 Ashland Road
784-1544Map It

Family Golf Center
Driving range/miniature golf
11000 Washington Highway
550-2622Map It

Fun World Sports Center
Driving range/miniature golf
6297 Mechanicsville Turnpike
746-1888Map It

Holiday Golf Driving Range
Driving range only
11402 Jefferson Davis Highway
751-9800Map It

Oasis Sports Park
Driving range/miniature golf
15300 Cosby Road
739-6833

Putt-A-Way Golf Range
Driving range/miniature golf
12586 Patterson Ave.
784-5638Map It

Putt-Putt Golf & Games
Miniature golf only
7901 Midlothian Turnpike
272-4373Map It

Richmond City Driving Range
Driving range only
400 School St.
780-4074Map It

Rockwood Golf Park
Driving range/miniature golf
10239 Hull Street Road
276-3765Map It

Windy Hill Sports Complex
Driving range/miniature golf
16500 Midlothian Turnpike
794-0010Map It

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