Are Range Balls Different? [Explained]

A common query that often surfaces is about the difference between range balls and regular golf balls.

Is your average range ball different from a golf ball you’d buy in a golf shop and use on the course?

This article will help break down whether this is the case to help give you a better understanding of how far the ball is going the next time you’re at the driving range.

Are range balls different?

Ed Welton

Founder, Editor

Ed is the founder and editor at EEE Golf. He’s been playing golf for over 20 years, competing in many top amateur events. He’s played courses all over the world and played with some of the best players in the game. His aim is to help educate people about the game of golf and give insights into the sport he loves most.

Performance Difference of Range Balls

Driving range balls are designed to withstand the high-volume hitting experienced at driving ranges, which means they are designed differently from standard golf balls.

This leads to some distinct differences in their performance compared to regular golf balls.

Range balls are built with a thicker cover and a harder core to endure frequent use, making them more durable than standard golf balls.

Range balls need to be able to last a long time and cope with being hit hundreds if not thousands of times down the driving range.

The differences in composition naturally lead to variations in performance between range balls and regular golf balls.

Range balls generally travel 10% less distance than regular golf balls. This difference is due to their harder core and dimple pattern, which affect the ball’s aerodynamics and, consequently, its flight.

Most of the time they’re designed to produce less ball speed and fly shorter distances to ensure they stay within the confines of the driving range.

How many times have you been down the range and seen a golfer trying to fly one over the back netting?

It might look cool, but it’s really annoying for the range owner and actually quite dangerous.

Golfers might notice a different feel when striking a driving range ball. They tend to provide less spin and control compared to high-quality regular balls, which can impact practice sessions, especially for short game and putting.

testing range ball performance

I decided to do a comparison of a range ball to a premium ball to see just how different they perform and it was noticeable the difference in ball speed, distance, launch and spin.

For long shots, I was losing plenty of ball speed and about 10-15 yards of distance. The range balls produced far more spin and a lower launch angle.

As a result, I certainly wouldn’t recommend taking one out onto the course, if you want to shoot good scores.

Impact on Practice Sessions

There’s no question that range balls are different to normal golf balls, so understanding these differences is crucial for golfers who practice with range balls but play with regular balls.

When practising with range balls, it’s important to adjust distance expectations.

The reduced flight means that the actual distance your shots would travel with a regular ball might be underestimated.

If you’re hitting a 7 iron 150 yards on the range, chances are you’ll need to add about 15 yards to that on the golf course.

Otherwise, you’ll constantly be overclubbing and ending up long of the green.

For short game and putting, the difference in feel and control can be significant.

I’d never suggest you take a range ball out onto the practice putting green, but some players might want to use them for practising short game.

So it’s important to remember that the range balls will have a much more subdued feeling off the clubface and the amount of control will be limited.

Are All Range Balls the Same?

Not all range balls are created equal.

There are variations in quality and performance among range balls themselves which can also lead to performance differences.

The age of the range balls can also have an impact on performance with new range balls usually performing a little better than older ones that have been hit thousands of times.

Here’s so of the different range balls:

Premium Range Balls

Some driving ranges offer higher-quality range balls that more closely mimic the performance of regular golf balls.

These are often used in ranges attached to high-end courses or golf academies and can actually just be a premium golf ball with practice ball written on it.

You’ll also see these if you go to professional golf tournaments where the practice range will be filled with the premium golf balls that tour players use each week.

This allows the players to practice with what they play with.

Must be nice to stand on a driving range with a hit bucket full of brand new Titleist Pro V1s without having to pick them up or even worse, pay for them.

Standard Range Balls

The most common type found at public ranges is just your standard range balls.

Don’t be fooled by the logo of some of these balls, just because they say Srixon on the front, doesn’t mean they play like normal Srixon balls.

These balls are durable but offer less realistic flight and feel compared to regular golf balls.

Microchip Range Balls

Some driving ranges like TopGolf will have special practice balls which have microchips inside them to track the numbers of a golf shot.

These usually perform like most range balls however and won’t be affected too much by the microchip inside.

Final Thoughts

Range balls are indeed different from premium golf balls or even just regular golf balls.

Range ball distances are the most noticeable of the performance differences, but they also feel a lot different off the face.

While they are an economical and practical choice for driving ranges, golfers should be aware of these differences during practice sessions and understand that they won’t have the same ball flight or go as far as normal balls.

Scroll to Top