New ball dispenser to expand driving range hours

Photo Kristin Schultz
A new, automatic golf ball dispenser was installed at Niskayuna's driving range last week.Photo Kristin Schultz A new, automatic golf ball dispenser was installed at Niskayuna's driving range last week.

By Kristin Schultz

Gazette Reporter

There are dispensers for everything: gumballs, cereal, shampoo, napkins, ice cubes, hand sanitizer, ketchup, tape and margaritas. The new golf ball dispenser at the Niskayuna Driving Range won’t doll out frosty, tequila-based libations, but it will reduce labor costs and may allow the range to extend its operating hours.

The new machine is tucked into the doorway on the north side of the main building and was installed on Thursday, May 4. There is a door that will close in order to secure the machine during off hours.

Range regulars will recognize the tiered payment system: $8 for 50 balls; $9 for 75 balls; $10 for 100 balls. Patrons can swipe a MasterCard or Visa or use Apple Pay, then select the number of balls and place the basket under the dispensing chute. Golfers can then head to the range and work on correcting that hook or slice.

The dispenser cost $4,500 and was part of the Parks Department’s budget.

“The dispenser will save on labor and will allow the range to be open longer,” said Lori Peretti, coordinator of community programs.

While an employee will need to be on site to open and close the doors on the facility, the automatic dispenser negates the need for a person to man the window and hand out buckets of balls.

Employees will still be required to collect, wash and reload golf balls into the dispenser.

Peretti would like to see the range open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekends, which would expand the operating hours by four hours during the week and three on the weekends.

The driving range is located off River Road in Blatnick Park.