Driving Range Question: Do Range Balls Go Shorter than Normal Golf Balls?

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Do you ever feel like the golf ball isnt moving when you practice on the driving range? Even with your best shots, the ball seems to only fly a fraction the normal distance. 

Don’t worry, you’re not losing your sanity. Range balls definitely don’t fly like normal golf balls, well at least with some clubs. They might perform similarly with other clubs.

Plus, there are a ton of other factors which we’ll cover today. Keep reading to learn more about driving range balls to maximize each practice session.

Do Range Balls Go Shorter?

The question every golfer has wondered… Are range balls the same distance?

While range balls may not be as good as premium balls, they are still better than some clubs. Most studies show that range balls are approximately 6-10% shorter in length than regular balls. 

This loss of distance will be more noticeable with shorter clubs and irons than with drivers and woods. It will be most noticeable with wedges and short irons, while the driver will be similar to regular golf balls.

Each range has different balls though so it’s not easy to give a one size fits all answer. Some ranges may have to replace their golf balls frequently and switch to premium golf balls like Titleist and Callaway. This will result in a decrease of distance by about 6% with your driving range ball. 

Others might use cheaper balls, x outs, used balls, or not replace as often. This could cause a difference in range balls that are 10% shorter and could affect your ball flight (since your dimples are worn). 

In a perfect universe, all ranges would use premium ball and our practice sessions will be spectacular. But that’s not the case as a premium golf ball has a very different construction than regular golf balls.

Range Ball Construction

How are these golf balls made?

Most range balls are two-piece golf balls, and can be purchased in yellow or white. Some range balls may even come in a one-piece design. This can make a huge difference in terms flight distance and flight if you have a premium 4-piece or 3-piece ball. 

According to the website Golf balls“A 2-Piece golf ball consists of a solid rubber core and a firm outer layer. These balls fly straighter and spin more than multi-layer balls. Further, these tend to offer maximum distance off the tee and great short game spin control; hence their nickname “the distance balls.” 


Two-piece balls fly straighter and are more durable. They are ideal for beginners and high handicappers. Needless to say, if you’re a scratch golfer who plays a Titleist Pro V1XYou will notice a difference between distance and flight with a 4-piece multi-layered ball. 

The same article also highlighted the differences between the two types. “A multi-layer ball, like a 4- or a 5-piece item, features a thin outer layer that is typically made of urethane. 

This soft material provides ample short-game spin by allowing the clubface to “grab” the ball, while the intermediate layer(s) between the core and exterior allow more spin and control on well-struck iron shots.”

Range balls spin less because of a cheaper design, and they become worn down over time.

Limited Flight Range

While normal range balls don’t act like a typical ball, there are different versions that limit the distance even more. These are Cayman-style golf balls, which travel only about 50% of the distance. 

According to the article on Golf Balls, “It can be played on specially designed short courses, par 3, executive courses, and practice ranges. The Cayman pays the player for hitting a good ball. It is designed to groove your swing while developing timing and tempo.”

These balls are great for practicing in a small area with limited space. A lot of shorter driving ranges use these types of balls to ensure players don’t hit through it and on the golf course.

The BirdieBall is another great option. It can be used in any parking lot or open space. They can only be used for 30-40 yards, but they provide a great experience when hitting.

Click here to see our complete review of Birdieball

The Right Number of Range Balls 

The biggest mistake most people make when practicing is hitting too many range ball. Most people think that more practice is better practice… but that’s not always the case.

Always think about the quality of practice and not the quantity! When it comes to making the most your practice time, sometimes less is more.

Hitting more range balls doesn’t get you extra credit from the Golf Gods. In fact, too many range balls can negatively impact your game and wallet. Larger and jumbo buckets are more expensive, but they also make it easier to instill bad habits.

Golfers are quick to fire off golf balls at the driving range. This leaves little time for your mind to evaluate and learn from your mistakes, so you just keep repeating the mistake. Mastery is built on repetition and you can master bad habits while practicing.

This is why it’s so important to take regular breaks between golf balls. Not only will this simulate an actual round of golf better, it’ll give your mind and body time to relax. Sometimes you have to take a step back to examine your shots and determine what you can do to improve them. 

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking a jumbo bucket a day is how you shoot in the 70s! When it comes down to hitting golf balls, less is better. 


Hit Range Before and After the round

Driving range is a great place to warm up before the round. If you’re teeing off right after work you might not always have time but if so, we always suggest it. 

However, if you hit the balls before the round, you will only need 20-30 of them. The goal isn’t to revamp your swing or work on technical swing changes. Your goal is to get loose and warm for the round.

Hit balls after each round is one of the best ways to improve your game. Your body is already relaxed and you have seen your shots, so you can work on your weak spots. This is a common occurrence among professional golfers, but rare for amateurs. 

You can hit balls before the round. Less is more. You don’t need a large or jumbo bucket as your body is likely tired from the round. 

Instead, try hitting a small bucket to see if you can improve upon any issues you had that day. You can also take notes on what went well and what didnt so that you can repeat it in the future. 

FAQs about the Driving Range 

To get the most out of each practice session, ask questions about hitting range balls.

Why are range balls shorter? Do range balls go lower? 

The one- or two-piece design of range balls makes them fly slower. These balls are usually reserved for high handicappers and beginners, and not single-digit or scratch golfers. 

The design of these balls also makes them fly differently than other golf balls. These balls tend to fly straighter and they’re harder to shape in either direction as they don’t have as much spin. Plus, the dimples get worn down since they’re hit so often.

Are range balls more aerodynamic?

It all depends on what golf ball you use.

If they’re damaged at all, it can have a huge impact on the ball and cause flight issues that aren’t related to your swing. It’s always a good idea to save the best golf balls for your longer clubs when hitting range balls. 

Do PGA Tour players hit range balls with their golf clubs?

They dont hit normal range balls in tournaments. Anytime you watch golf on TV, you won’t see them hitting range balls that the everyday golfer would. I was able to learn this because I worked at a PGA Tour tournament in college.

As a team player, we were able to volunteer at the Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines. We handed players their balls at the range and got to see these guys aren’t hitting typical range balls.

To get them warm up, they hit normal golf balls. It’s a pain for the driving range attendants as they have to sort out the balls in individual bags each night. I was even able to see Tiger Woods pass our table and grab his Nike golf balls. 

Why cant range balls travel so far?

The cover and design of premium balls are quite different.

These balls have a rubber core and thicker Surlyn covers (most golf balls are made from Urethane). This not only makes the balls more durable, but also improves the balls flight and distance. 

What is the best order of clubs to hit on the driving ranges driving range?

Most golfers make the biggest mistake at the driving range by not properly progressing through their set. Too many golfers just go straight for their long clubs. Without warming up. This can cause injury and make you less efficient.

Instead, warm up slowly while working your way up to longer clubs. Don’t just grab driver after driving to the range and expect to hit bombs. You need to loosen up and be ready for the speed and twisting motions of a golf swing.

Here’s how I like to get warmed up (5-10 balls each): sand wedge, pitching wedge, 8 iron, 5 iron, 3 wood, and then driver. This gives me plenty time to feel my swing, pick targets and get the most out my practice sessions.

What is a floater golf ball? 

A floater ball is made an “aqua driving range.” These ranges have tons of water and the golf balls float instead of sink like a traditional golf ball. 

As Golf Balls Galore said, “Increased durability, and a slightly shorter distance performance makes this ball ideal for any aqua range. Wilson dimple pattern dimple pattern is specifically designed to maintain ball flight.” 

Now I want to test out an aqua driving range to see what it’s like! 

Driving range balls can cause damage to your golf clubs

No, they will not damage most of your clubs as they’re similar to a regular golf ball. But they can wear down the grooves faster in your wedges, especially if they’re a firmer designed ball.

If you’re someone that hits a lot of range balls, especially with wedges, it’s not a bad idea to have practice LW/SW and ones you use for playing. This way you can save the grooves of your playing wedges (as you don’t need backspin on the range) for the golf course. I know it’s not the most economical practice tip but it can help create more consistent spin on the course. 

Is the driving distance too far?

This is a good question, as many golf courses have holes running parallel to the driving range. Is it out of bounds if your ball ends in the range?

It all depends on where you are playing.

I’ve played some courses that allow you to find and hit your ball from the driving range. It isn’t always easy to locate the ball (especially if they’re the same color), let alone hit it while players are firing buckets of balls toward you.

Some courses have a strict no-go zone policy, while others have it. This actually makes sense a lot of times as they don’t want players getting potentially injured from searching on the driving range. 

Scorecards are the best way to determine if the range is OB. They often have local rules.

Are range balls more difficult to hit? 

Yes, there is a big difference between a range and regular golf ball.

But range balls aren’t harder to hit, they just don’t have the qualities of a brand-new premium ball that you would use. The dimples have worn down, which can affect the distance, spin speed, ball speed, flight, and flight of your golf ball.

Plus, some driving ranges don’t replace new golf balls nearly as often so it can have a big impact on your overall range session. A good course should replace range balls at least twice a year.

You can still learn a lot from your game, even if the range balls are worn down. You can identify common tendencies in every shot to improve your golf game. 

Final Thoughts on Driving Range Balls 

Hitting range balls isn’t as good as normal balls but that doesn’t mean you should skip the range all together. Expect your wedges and irons to be the most affected from range balls – they will go 6-10% less in terms of total distance.

Driving ranges may also control golf balls to increase distance. But if they aren’t distance controlled, your woods and drivers should be about the same length. 

If you’re practicing short game, ditch the range balls and practice with the balls you use on the golf course. This will make practicing more like playing a round. 

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