Going to the range and smashing a few range balls can be one of the most beneficial things you can do as a golfer to help improve your ball striking skills.
Compared to regular golf balls, range balls are designed to be hit repeatedly and are built to be a lot more durable than standard golf balls. Their core is a lot firmer, and their cover is a lot thicker, meaning they travel a lot less and provide a much heavier connection on the shot.
In this ultimate range ball guide, I will discuss how and why range balls slice less, why it’s harder to put shape on a range ball, how they can damage your clubs, if range balls are heavier, if range balls affect speed if they go straight and lastly if range balls are plain bad to use.
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Do Range Balls Slice Less?
As a general rule, they tend to have less spin and slice and hook less than a normal golf ball. The exact numbers will vary from ball to ball and on the club used, but range balls are harder with shallower dimples than a pro ball making it harder to generate spin.
Can you imagine how many times just one range ball at your local club has been smashed down the driving range? Range balls are made to be durable and do the basic thing that any golfer wants them to do, get up in the air.
They don’t feel like you’re striking a regular golf ball, and your connection with a range ball will never be as sweet as a Titleist Pro V1(Amazon link), for example.
As stated in my guide on what makes up a golf ball, regular golf balls are generally made of a much softer core than a range ball this allows them to have a much softer connection, and you can use that to manipulate spin or shape on the ball.
But throughout their lifetime, range balls are designed to outlast the beating they go through, which means they are much firmer and more callous than a standard golf ball. Unfortunately, that makes it a lot harder to put a spin on a golf ball, which causes you to slice or hook your shot.
When a golfer slices a ball, they tend to cut across the ball and add a left-to-right spin on the shot. That pushes the ball out to the right at an acute angle. The opposite happens if you hook your shot, with golfers adding a right-to-left spin on the ball.
But because range balls are so hard, some of that spin is mitigated by the golf ball. And that’s one of the bad things about going to the range if you’re looking to eliminate a slice from your game.
I like to call that the deceptiveness of the driving range. The rock-solid range ball makes you think that you’re not slicing the ball as much. However, when it comes to playing a course with a top-quality golf ball like the Callaway Chrome soft(Amazon link), which is prone to receiving more spin from your clubface, you’ll start to see yourself slice the ball a lot more.
When you’re at the range, most high handicap golfers might not notice the difference in the quality of golf balls. But for scratch golfers and those who play regularly, the difference can be staggering. It takes a long time to learn how to hit the ball correctly; you can read my story on learning how to play here and learning how not to slice the ball features as an important part of that.
Range balls don’t slice as much as normal golf balls do, but they still slice pretty badly if you’re not striking the ball correctly. In my opinion, it is easier to slice a standard golf ball than a range ball, though, which is why at the range, you need to pay extra attention to keeping your clubhead square through contact with the ball to eliminate any sideways spin going onto the shot.
Do Range Balls Affect Speed?
Data shows range balls deliver lower launch, higher spin, less speed, and carry lower distances as range balls are heavier. Subtract approximately 4-6mph from your ball speed when striking a ball compared to a standard golf ball.
You can see the data when a range ball was compared with a premium ball using a launch meter on golf.com
The downward force of your clubhead creates the speed on the shot onto the golf ball. The faster your clubhead speed, the more lift off your ball will have through the air. But once you’ve transitioned that kinetic energy to the ball, the design and makeup of the golf ball can severely dampen how much speed and distance you get on the shot.
Range balls move a lot slower through the air than a standard golf ball. As I’ve discussed above, that comes down to how firm they are and how thick their outer casing is. Compare it to hitting a Pro V1, and it’s like teeing up a rock and trying to swipe that down the fairway. Firm golf balls provide poor connection, ultimately reducing the speed you can put on your shot.
If you’re looking to hit longer distances, you’ll need to add more speed onto the ball. One great way to help you break 200 yards(my guide) with your irons is to start using higher-quality golf balls. If you pick up a range ball and look at its casing, you’ll notice that its outer dimples are very shallow compared to those you’ll find on a standard golf ball.
But should you go all out and buy the best golf balls in the business the Titleist Pro V1’s? Learn the truth in my article.
The indentation of a golf ball’s dimples shows its quality with deeper dimples meaning the ball can travel through the air much faster than a golf ball with shallower dimples. They create an air pocket around the ball and the better that air pocket is on the ball, the less drag the ball will experience when it carries through the air.
As range balls have typically been bashed around during their life span, their casing typically has been worn down a lot, with their dimples become a lot less pronounced, providing the golfer with a lot less speed on the shot.
Are Range Balls Heavier?
Range balls are heavier than a standard golf ball; they are made of a thicker polyethylene casing which provides more durability with a much meatier core than a standard golf ball, making them a little heavier than a standard golf ball.
Technically, per the USGA Rulebook, a golf ball should weigh no more than 45.93 grams. Bigger hitters can benefit from using heavier golf balls, but not all golf balls as heavy as a range ball are made of the same standard of quality.
Usually, range balls will be a lot heavier than normal golf balls, but there are instances where range balls can be a lot lighter than a normal golf ball. For example, on driving ranges with limited space, some golf clubs often opt to use much lighter range balls that can seriously dampen the amount of power and distance golfers can get on the shot.
Jack Nicklaus’ invented the Cayman Golf Balls for driving ranges that are limited on space. Typically the Cayman Golf Ball weights 50% less than a standard golf ball and travels half the distance of a normal golf ball, helping those limited on space keep their balls on the range.
The majority of range balls are a lot heavier and clunkier than a standard golf ball, which can be heavy, have a much lighter, softer, and smoother feel than hitting a range ball. As I state above, hitting a range ball can sometimes be compared to striking a rock off the tee. The golf ball’s weight doesn’t come into play too much, though, unless you’re using a light golf ball.
Golfers more so tend to judge golf balls on their feel and connection to the shot. All golf balls sink when they hit water learn more in my post, the majority usually are the same weight; it’s more about how they feel on connection and how they travel through the air. Some golfers prefer the hard feel of a golf ball, while others would prefer a softer golf ball.
Are Range Balls High Spin?
Range balls spin a lot less than standard golf balls, they are a lot firmer than a standard golf ball, it’s a lot harder to add spin and shape to a range ball than a softer standard golf ball as they are heavier.
There’s nothing more satisfying than plonking a golf ball onto a green, ripping some spin into your shot, and watching it roll back five yards towards the flag.
Adding spin onto any golf shot is hard, especially if you’re at the driving range. But if you can put even a little bit of spin on a driving range ball in the direction you want it to go, then you’ll find it super easy to land backspin and topspin on a standard golf ball on the course.
Because of their thick and hard outer casing, it’s a lot more difficult to rip your clubface along and across a range ball and add spin to the shot that helps you get more lift and backspin on the golf ball.
If you want to learn more on how to add backspin onto your shots, you can seek professional advice from a PGA qualified coach, see my 11 reasons why having a coach will transform your game in my article; they will be able to give you lessons on how to add front spin, backspin, and add shape to your shots.
Range balls have shallower indentations around the ball. Dimples help increase the air pressure on the bottom of the ball and add more backward rotations onto the golf ball to help you get more backspin, the more pronounced the dimples, the more spin you’ll therefore get.
If you’re looking to add more spin to your shots, it’s best to use a soft higher-quality standard golf ball.
Bridgestone’s Tour B XS golf balls are specifically designed for golfers who want to add more spin onto their shots and are a great ball to use if you want to also work on hitting draws and fades. They’re available in several different colours for a bargain on Amazon.
Do Range Balls Go Straighter?
In total range, balls are harder and will occur less clubbed spin resulting in equal or less sideways movement. Range balls are quite unpredictable in their movements but will tend to push or pull more to both the left and or right of your intended target.
It is harder to slice a range ball because they tend not to have as much spin like a regular golf ball. But that also doesn’t mean they are easier to hit straight. Every range ball is different, seeing as most have been scuffed and smashed a thousand times over. From general wear and tear, they’ll all have different exteriors, and that creates a very unpredictable ball flight.
You might find one day at the range you could be hooking the ball, but the next day has a nasty slice! That is the unpredictability of a range ball, and if you hit a range ball sweet, they will normally go straight but not as straight as a golf ball fresh out of the packet.
That comes down to a combination of factors, as the range ball reduces the distance you can get on your shots, golfers often overcompensate on the range and try too hard to hit the ball to hit distances they would normally hit with a standard golf ball.
Because you’re trying hard, there is a greater tendency for the golfer to pull or push the ball offline; combine that with the ball’s firmness, and many golfers will find it an awful lot harder to keep their shots on target.
Softer golf balls give you a much nicer connection on the shot and are a little more forgiving, preventing you from spraying your shot away from your target. Although if you’re struggling to keep the ball on the line, you may want to consider having a lesson. Check out my guide on how golf lessons can help you dial in your distance and aim from longer distances.
Are Range Balls Bad?
Range balls will not always give a true representation of your swing, which is bad for your game; range balls go through their life are hit with thousands of Golders, which causes them to be hard and more worn down, which negatively affects ball flight.
My top piece of advice to golfers who regularly go to the driving range is to take the statistics you get from your range finder with a pinch of salt. Range balls aren’t terrible because they serve a good purpose in helping golfers improve their technique and hit straighter shots.
But when it comes to fine-tuning your swing, range balls will not give you an accurate representation of how far you’re hitting your shots, and how many spins or speed you’re putting on the ball. As I’ve said above, a range ball’s composition means it’s designed for durability, not performance as a standard golf ball might be.
On average, range balls will travel approximately 10% less than a standard golf ball, but that can also change depending on the range and the type of golf balls they use. Some driving ranges use higher quality balls, while others use a much lower standard of golf balls.
There is nothing quite like hitting a golf ball that is of a similar standard to the one you’ll play with on the course. So if you can, try to find a range that uses good quality golf balls that will help you get a better picture of how well you’re hitting the ball and help you dial in your swing and rule out any chance of slicing the ball.
What is the best club to use in and around the green? Learn the facts in my article.
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