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Range Balls vs. "Real" Balls

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I was at a local municipal course driving range today.   Near the end of my practice, I decided to do some "flag hunting."   I picked out a flag that looked like it was about 100 yards away, and I pulled out my 52* wedge, which I have always hit right at 100 yards.    My short wedges are the only clubs in my bag that I consistently hit pretty darn well, and true to form, I hit 10 or 15 balls to within 5-10 feet of that flag, which I was really happy with.  


Just for grins, I took out my rangefinder and shot the flag: 80 yards!!!   WTF??!!!    All of a sudden I'm hitting my beloved 52* wedge 20 yards shorter than normal??!!     Then it occurred to me that I was hitting old, crappy range balls.    Is it possible the different in golf balls could make that big a difference (I usually hit ProV1 or ProV1X - whichever I can find cheaper)?

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Back before everybody had a rangefinder, the yardage markers were  "adjusted " for range ball distances

Many ranges use limited flight balls.  They're roughly 20% shorter than regular balls.  

I don't worry about distance control with range balls.  They're inconsistent.  

Its the balls.  A while back I purchased a Rapsodo launch monitor.  When I took it to the range I thought I was not hitting the ball well - distances were off even though the device seemed accurate.  This was right after our course re-opening from virus so I simply wrote it off as rust. Then I took it out on the course and set it up on the first par 3 that I usually play well.  Distances related to clubs were right on the money.  Range balls can help you work on you swing but no good for figuring out yardages.  

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My local driving range has balls so old the dimples are worn out so I get balls dropping right out of the sky since there wasn't enough spin to keep it in the air.  So I'm used to seeing my driver go 190 yards and my PW go 100.  That's ok.  Direction and quality of strike is what I'm really after.

Edited by cgasucks

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Majority of Ranges (World Wide) are built in built up areas ie residential and space is limited so they use what they call 80% balls. The range I go on uses Srixon 2 piece and Rick Shiels did a test about this subject and the findings are interesting. I've come to understand that with Range balls is about strike not distance.  

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Depends on the range in my experience - a couple round here that are out in the country use Srixon/Mizuno 2 piece balls and distances are pretty much bang on. However the one I usually go to has a school about 240 yards from the bays on the right hand side, so they have gone for the 20% reduction ones.


It is however the only one near me with Top Tracer, and it "adjusts" the distance you hit based on the ball compression. In my experience it still under reads the distances by about 10% when you get to the top of the bag, but is close enough. They are also reduced spin balls from what I can tell, so paradoxically, when I'm hitting my driver properly, I can instantly tell because the ball travels 200 yards then drops out of the sky.


Also quite amusing when a "real" ball gets mixed in with the rubbish. Confuses the hell out of Top Tracer - 340 yard drives here we come ?

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If you do a search, several respected sources have compared ‘standard’ range balls to the higher-end, with V1’s being the usual comparison.

Range balls are not high-compression.

Range balls are almost always 2-piece.

Range balls have very hard covers for durability.

The result is that they launch higher than normal and spin less.


Wedges will fly high and loose distance (as you noticed).

Mid irons may be close to normal distance.

FW’s and driver will be significantly shorter due to reduced spin.

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Not all range balls are alike either. We have 3 different kinds at our course all mixed together. 2 variants of limited flight balls that go different distances and then a ball that seems to fly like a 2-piece distance ball. 


with driver i can hit the "distance" range ball off the back of the range. The other 2 not even close. 


it makes a huge difference

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Next time you take a ball out of play because it's too scuffed or worn or beat up, pocket it. Save a couple. Go to the range and hit some balls and then hit a range ball followed by a personal ball. Try and do that a handful of times and you'll feel the difference and see the flight difference. TP5x is a ball that goes HIGH. Ranges balls go higher. Substantially. You'll also feel that the real balls "stick" on the club face a little more. When you go to the range, if you hit off mats, you're just hoping to work on strike. Results are negligible and not to be taken to heart. 

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I like the range at a local muni, I'd say roughly 75% of their range balls are "real" balls they most likely picked from the woods of the course. I definitely notice a difference when I'm practicing there, vs another local range that's more of a "fun" place for families that purely has true range balls. 

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People here are giving you the right advice. Unless I'm at a private club that has premium balls and real grass, so basically never, I don't pay attention to the ball flight or distance. I'm just feeling for good contact and the looking for the ball to start in the right direction. 

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Very range dependent but can be a big difference in distance. Some private clubs I play at have pro v1 range balls and some local ranges can barely be called balls. Just practice a good strike and alignment and you are doing well. A range i frequent has a wedge course with concrete 4x4 pads at 30-100 yards every 10 yards. With a lob wedge in hand, they seem pretty close to normal with a lob wedge in hand. Sometimes when dead into the wind, it makes you feel like a real p***y. Just ignore the longer ones and stay within your swing. Good luck.

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