If there’s one constant about golf, then that is practice. All shots must practice time and time again to master your distances truly.
However, since the easiest way to practice is by far at the driving range, an important question does raise: How do range balls perform compared to new and premium balls?
It’s not uncommon for golfers to base their distances on the results they get at the driving range, and in fact, that’s the intent of a degree. But between ball quality and texture, the build of the content, and beyond, it’s essential to know how accurate the results you get in a range are.
You might discover that the feeling your distances aren’t quite measuring to the shots you make in the range is more than just a nagging feeling.
Today we’ll take a look at all the aspects that affect performance in a driving range. It’s build of range balls and their effects in shots, the distance differences we can expect on average, and even how distances measure in driving ranges.
So let’s get started and learn everything we can about range balls and how they can be affecting your game.
Do range balls spin more?
A common belief when it comes to range balls is that they have more sidespin. The reasoning for this is relatively simple, too: Good balls meant t have lower spin. And once players start noticing that their range and course shots vary, they assume it’s due to the ball being of lower quality.
While range balls ultimately do behave differently from pro balls, they don’t spin more. Instead, they tend to have less spin than most balls consistently.
The exact numbers will vary from ball to ball and based on the club used, but something consistent in all tests is that range balls will spin less. However, the difference will be relatively small when using a driver, with an average difference of 30 rpm.
It means there’s roughly a spin decrease of 2% with range balls. However, when using an iron, the difference starts becoming more notorious with a difference of 550 rpm, meaning there’s a 10% change in the spin.
However, a wedge provided the most impressive results, with the range ball having less than half the spin of the pro ball. So regardless of the variation, you’ll find. But, of course, you can always expect a range ball to spin less.
Ultimately this is something that comes down to the build of range balls. Range balls tend to be 2-piece and considerably more complex than the balls you’d use on a court. On top of that, the constant use means they can be worn or even uneven at times.
Due to being harder and potentially worn, range balls have less friction and consequently will spin less.
So while a range ball will undoubtedly affect your shot, it’s not due to them spinning more. It’s also essential to consider that while many people relate less spin with a better ball, range balls still differ from pro balls in more than spin.
Speed and distance will also vary, which will affect your calculations, so there’s more to consider with them.
How much further do golf balls go than range balls?
While spin differences on range balls are essentially an unintended side effect of their build, the same can’t say how range balls perform for distance.
If you’ve ever felt that your shots at the range fall short of the numbers you know you can make, then rest assured that it’s more than just a hunch. Most range balls designs to fly shorter distances than regular balls, and the difference will be enough to change your performance.
Once again, it can be hard to offer exact estimates with all the different brands in the market. Still, in the broad new range, balls will cover 80% of the distance of a regular ball. Similarly, worn balls or those designed to be even more flight resistant can fall as low as 60% the length of standard balls.
These numbers are undoubtedly much shorter than a performance ball and make a significant impact on how you’d guess your shots. Still, perhaps the most exciting part is the reasoning for this change.
Range balls tend to cover much shorter distances to avoid unwanted accidents. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for ranges to be below the recommended length. In this case, the shorter distance makes lost balls or broken windows less likely.
The reasoning might be a little disappointing, but the distance reduction is entirely in service of the range and not of your practice.
Of course, not all ranges fall below the estimated distance, but flight reduction balls are so standard that chances are your content uses them by default.
Coupled with the ball’s accumulated use and worn texture, you should always assume you are losing 20% of the distance with a range ball. You can use this information to try and measure how much farther your shots will go, but nothing will beat making a shot with a regular golf ball.
Are driving range distances accurate?
As we mentioned above, some ranges do not have the recommended distance for golf shots. So you’d be forgiven for wondering just how much you can trust the numbers in a driving range.
While there are many rumors and myths around driving ranges, certain things tend to be true for all fields.
The first thing to consider is that the distances in the range measure from the center lane. While this doesn’t sound like a major deal, it’s something that can stack up in some instances.
Many driving ranges have lanes at a slight arc, which means that the further you are from the center lane, the more inaccurate the distances will be. As a result of this method of measuring, your starting distance can be up to 20 yards closer to the markers.
Usually, suppose you want the most accurate distances. In that case, you want to be as close as possible to the center, but that, of course, won’t always be possible. So you should expect the yards listed not fully to represent the actual flight distance. Still, the exact variation is hard to pin down.
Another factor that will affect your distances is the way ranges measure distance. Generally, for construction, length is measured from the back wall to the range markers.
It means that shots don’t measure from the starting point, which will be present even in the center lanes. But, on the other hand, this is a much smaller variation on most courts so that it won’t affect your calculations as much.
Of course, since we mentioned that not all ranges fit the recommended distance for golf, the very idea of distance markers can become easy to doubt. For example, many people swear that fields have reduced distance markers to account for the shorter distance of range balls. Still, we have no way to prove using a laser to measure this.
Driving ranges should expect to have some variance in the distance regardless of the ball you are using. Still, there’s no way to know how severe this is without checking each range individually.
As it stands, we have learned quite a few things about the way driving ranges perform compared to a real court. But, of course, range balls themselves are the most significant difference, and there’s no way to get the same results with one as you would with your regular balls.
On the top, I have raised a few concerns about the accuracy of driving ranges, and both of these factors might discourage you a bit.
The simple fact is that driving ranges don’t intend to give you accurate distances you can replicate while playing. The primary purpose of a driving range is really for golfers to practice their swing, and when it comes to that, there’s no real issue.
The final shot won’t be accurate at all, but that’s not the intent. Driving ranges are a place to practice doing a shoot, not to calculate distances for the court.
That said, there are certain things you can do if you still want to find the most accurate numbers possible during your next trip to a range. A laser is your best friend if you have doubts about the distance markers in your local content.
A rangefinder is a handy tool for any golfer. Having one at hand will let you have accurate distance readings regardless of the location you practice. Additionally, you can try with a few balls of your own once you are sure you’ve mastered the shot you want to make.
It will give you an accurate distance for your real game later down the road. Driving ranges are not perfect for space, but they still are helpful training tools.