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Can driving range balls be really that bad?


bulls9999
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I know I've heard people, myself included, talk about hitting it so differently on the range vs on the course.  So this weekend, I'm not able to hit my woods on the driving range.  I think I commented that the balls feel like I'm hitting rocks, nothing...hybrid, 5-wood, 7-wood; driver a little better but the feel/sound what harsh.

 

Then I get on the first tee (par-5) and drive the ball OK, so I pull out my 5-wood and from my range work I'm rolling my eyes to see where this ball goes...and smash/zoom... zipped it straight down the middle (down hill) and I'm laying greenside with a nice chip to 4 feet and start out with birdie.

 

Did this about 4 more times with my 5-wood, and each was a great boring, nearly straight shot.  On the range, I couldn't hit even one good one out of 12 balls (only reason I hit so many, was I don't like to put a club away on a bad hit...but after 12, I said freakk-it, it ain't working today for whatever reason, i give up).

 

Could the range balls be that bad that?  This is a private club but again, if they don't replace the balls often enough, I guess you could be playing with stones.

GHIN Index 15.1
LH Epic Flash Driver-LH, 10.5*, Project X EvenFlow Riptide 50 (Light)
LH Callaway Rogue 5-wood (18*), 7-wood (20*); Aldila Synergy 60-Reg
LH Callaway Rogue Pro 4-AW, Recoil 760 F3
LH Callaway Rogue 19* 3-Hyb, Aldila Synergy 60-Reg
LH Cleveland RTX 50*, 54*, 58*
LH Odyssey Double Wide Stroke Lab Putter

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My club got new range balls a couple of weeks ago...  using the older balls I would get consistent 1.4 to 1.42 smash factor with my driver.  These would be with strikes that were verified with powder spray to be on the sweet spot or slightly higher/toe side.  I happened to be on the range when the range attendant came by and put down 50 brand new range balls right out of the box....  I set up my mevo, sprayed down the face of my driver and hit a few.  The smash factor jumped to 1.47 - 1.5 with a 1.51 regarding strikes in the same spot as before when I was getting 1.4 to 1.42.  I was also getting a more consistent ball flight with the new range balls...  I definitely believe it makes a difference regarding the age of the range balls.

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It's anecdotal, but I prefer to use the range at my local muni that pretty much stocks their buckets with found balls from the course. I feel like there's noticable differences in flight and distance vs the driving range that uses Pinnacle range balls, especially when I'm working on shorter wedge shots. 

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I just generally assume that range balls aren't that great. I don't play at exclusive clubs or anything, so it's always "RANGE" balls from various manufacturers - Srixon, Pinnacle, Mizuno. Always yellow these days. Always with the big stripes to discourage theft through shame.

 

Like @jah7838 above, I will assess and separate a batch of range balls by age and quality. Each bucket tends to be about 1/3 current season balls, and 2/3 previous season balls. Might be one or two that are so old that the dimples have been worn away to just about nothing. Those are always fun to hit with a hybrid or long iron just to see the crazy ball flight. Super crappy ones get used for warm up. Middle of the road for irons. Best quality for driver. I don't really even know why...

 

Because I put no stock in the distances I achieve on the range - unless I've got a launch monitor or spotter and am hitting my own balls. On the course and with my preferred ball, I know how far my clubs go. The range is for mechanics and contact. That's about it.

Cleveland Launcher HB 10.5* - Stock Miyazaki C. Kua 50 Stiff
Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 13* - Aldila NV 75 Stiff
or
Callaway Diablo Edge Tour 15* - Accra Dymatch M5 75
Mizuno F-50 18* - Stock Stiff
or
Callaway Diablo Edge Tour Hybrid 21* - Aldila NV 85 Stiff
Callaway RAZR Tour Hybrid 24* - Stock XStiff
5 - PW Cleveland CG7 Tour Black Pearl - DGSL S300
Cleveland 588 RTX Rotex 2.0 50* DG Wedge
Cleveland 588 RTX Rotex 2.0 54* DG Wedge
Callaway X-Series JAWS Slate CC 58* Stock Wedge
Odyssey White Ice #7 - Golf Pride Oversize

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On 11/30/2021 at 9:52 AM, jah7838 said:

I'll separate the range balls at the range.  I'll set the ones that are newer and in better shape for my driver and woods, and the really bad ones will be for wedges when I start warming up.  I'm just looking at making good contact at first, so I'm not too worried about spin on those.  The balls that are in good shape usually don't give me any funny looking shots off a driver or wood.  

Haha... I do the same thing.  I knock over the big bucket and let a bunch of balls spill out and I cull out and use the worst looking balls with my PW, 9/8/7 iron and save the better looking balls for driver/fairway woods.

 

 

Edited by bulls9999
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GHIN Index 15.1
LH Epic Flash Driver-LH, 10.5*, Project X EvenFlow Riptide 50 (Light)
LH Callaway Rogue 5-wood (18*), 7-wood (20*); Aldila Synergy 60-Reg
LH Callaway Rogue Pro 4-AW, Recoil 760 F3
LH Callaway Rogue 19* 3-Hyb, Aldila Synergy 60-Reg
LH Cleveland RTX 50*, 54*, 58*
LH Odyssey Double Wide Stroke Lab Putter

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/30/2021 at 6:58 PM, Justsomeguy said:

Range balls aren't useful for evaluating flight. They're useful for practicing contact.

You can crush one and it will drop out of the sky. You can hit a squirrely one that looks better than the former.

 

Yep. Some fly right. Some just... I don't even know. I've had range balls curve both ways, i.e. it starts as a draw and then turns into a fade downrange. I didn't even know that was possible. And yes, I've had some where I've hit them pure and they just, well, drop out of the sky. 

 

The range is for contact and mechanics, and warm-up before a round. As a general rule the balls are good enough to determine whether or not you've curved it one way or the other, but if you get a ball flight that looks like a TOTAL outlier, it's probably an outlier due to the ball. 

Ping G25 10.5* w/ Diamana 'ahina 70 x5ct stiff (set -0.5 to 10*)

Toski 4w 16* w/ DG S300

Wishon EQ1-NX 4h, 5i-GW single-length built to 37.5" w/ Nippon Modus3 120 stiff

Sub70 286 52/10, 286 56/12, and JB 60/6 wedges, black, built to 36.75" w/ Nippon Modus3 120 stiff

Odyssey White Hot XG #1 w/ SuperStroke jumbo

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Range balls can be all over the map but reading the original post I'd have to imagine that that situation had to be one of three things: the OP just had a bad range session, the OP never hit that particular model of range ball, or maybe it was just early in the morning following one of the first really, really cold nights of the season and the range balls where a lot colder than the OP is used to.

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At my local driving range.  Its balls are so battered that the dimples are almost worn out which really decreases their distance.  I'd be lucky if my driver carried 200y with with them. 

 

What do you expect when you pay $3 CDN a bucket for them?

10.5 deg Titleist 905R with stock UST Proforce V2 Shaft (Stiff flex)
Titleist 990 (3-PW) with stock Dynamic Gold in S300
Taylormade V-Steel 5W & 3W with Grafalloy Prolaunch Red shafts (Regular Flex)
2011 Adams Tom Watson signature wedges in 52 and 56 degrees with stock steel shafts (Player's Grind)
Rife Island Series Aruba Blade Putter

 

"Loft for loft, length for length, and shaft for shaft, the ball will go the same distance when hit on the sweet spot regardless how old the iron."

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Range balls vary so much that it’s just hard to generalize. Like anything else, there are higher and lower grades of range balls. 
 

When I use my Flightscope, I always take enough “real” balls to hit one with each club for some sort of accurate number.  The Flightscope numbers for the range balls are just all over the place in comparison to the good balls; mostly shorter, though not all, mostly lower spin, though not all, etc.

 

Unless the range balls are in just horrible condition, I do think you can get a decent idea of general ball flight, though.  It’s not like the same swing makes one range ball slice and another one hook, and even the amount of movement isn’t horribly inaccurate.

 

I think any idea of trying to nail down distances with range balls is probably the single biggest thing you CANNOT do.  However, the shorter the shot, like partial wedges, the smaller the “error” is likely to be.  
 

The thing that is of most concern to me with range balls is club fitting.  I’ve come to prefer indoors with Trackman just so I can use premium balls for all shots,

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