Range ball quality can really vary from course to course. Some driving ranges are better than others at cycling out poor quality balls with regularity. This often leaves us with a bucket of pot pourri, or even worse, complete misery.
But how much difference is there in distance between a brand new range ball and a beat up range ball? What about a new range ball versus a brand new Pro V1 or other premium ball?
Well, this depends on a number of factors.
Let’s start with a driver. From my experience, the difference between an A+ range ball and a C- grade range ball will be around 15-20%. That means that a 300 yard drive will only go around 250-260.
A pro V1 or other ‘out of the box’ golf ball will be very similar in distance to a range ball fresh out of the case, unless your swing speed is out of this world (say 130 mph+). In that case, a premium ball may go farther because of its higher compression.
The biggest difference between a premium ball and a brand new distance style range ball is not distance, but consistency and accuracy.
With the irons, however, it is a complete crapshoot.
The more worn the range ball, the less backspin you will put on it with short irons. This can result in longer carry distances – but just on the shorter irons. The longer irons may need higher compression and ample spin to stay in the air the normal time. So that same range ball you just hit 40 yards shorter off the driver may go 15 yards farther off your wedge!
Often, range balls are wet as well. They usually have just been washed, and sit in the machine damp. Moisture will reduce the spin rate as well, causing the irons to actually go farther, like a flyer coming out of the rough.
If your range has really hard distance type range balls, the short and medium irons will go up to a club further than a pro V1 because of the difference is hardness of the covers, and difference in backspin rate. Top Flite Super Range and Pinnacle Brand balls actually fly farther when new. They will launch higher and spin less.
Of course if your range has limited flight style range balls, every club in the bag will go much shorter – probably by 25% on longer shots. On smaller shots say <150 yards you may see much closer results.
So take heart – you are probably a better golfer than your last bucket of range balls suggests!