by Mike Henry

OLDSMAR, FL. – Manager Jon Johnson and his staff at The Downs Golf Practice Facility are never content to rest on their laurels.

For the 11th consecutive year, the 22-acre complex has been recognized by the Golf Range Association of America for its customer-service excellence and the quality of the facility. GRAA Chairman and CEO Rick Summers informed Johnson of the designation as one of the country’s top-50 ranges in the Stand-Alone Category.

The Downs Golf Practice Facility will be included in the December issue of Golf Range Magazine as well as on the Internet at All winners will receive a Sterling Cut Glass crystal award at the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando in January.

“We are honored to once again be recognized by the GRAA,” Johnson said. “It is one of our goals every year, and we strive to maintain the facility in a manner that makes us worthy of the award. By doing so, we are able to provide enjoyment for people who hit balls, attend our clinics and camps and enjoy our two-day Golfest event. We try to maintain high-quality conditions 12 months a year.”

The fifth annual Golfest expo and demo day – featuring equipment from top companies, clinics, guest performers, contests, prizes and children’s activities – will be held at The Downs Golf Practice Facility Feb. 14-15.

The Downs Golf Practice Facility attracts more than 35,000 annual visitors who utilize the covered range area, 45 all-Bermuda grass hitting stations, two full-size chipping greens and an 8,000-square foot putting green.

Since its opening in March of 2003, it has evolved into a year-round destination for golfers, as well as players and groups who also enjoy wagering on Thoroughbred racing and competing in The Silks Poker Room on their visits to Tampa Bay Downs.

Johnson attributed the GRAA award to “a combination of everything – from our friendly service to good balls, good turf, excellent customer service, hard work by the maintenance crew and pro shop staff and good instruction.

“We also have four club-fitting stations and do a lot of club repair,” Johnson added. “We feel we are able to take care of all of our golfers’ needs on an ongoing basis.”

The GRAA awards are sponsored by Coastal Netting, Power Tee and Tex-Net.

The Downs Golf Practice Facility is open daily from 8:30 a.m.-dusk. For more information, call (813) 854-4946.