How Bad Are Driving Range Golf Balls

Driving range golf balls, often referred to as range balls, are a crucial component of golf practice facilities. These balls serve a specific purpose: to withstand heavy use and provide golfers with a consistent experience during practice sessions. However, they differ from the balls used in actual rounds of golf in several ways. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of driving range golf balls and discuss how “bad” they really are.

Rangefinder on Discount

Composition and Construction

Driving range golf balls are distinct from regular golf balls in terms of their construction and materials. They are designed to be durable and long-lasting, as they endure extensive use on the driving range. The key differences in composition include:

  1. Cover Material: Range balls typically have a harder, surlyn cover as compared to the softer urethane covers found on premium golf balls. This hardness helps them resist wear and tear.
  2. Core: Range balls often feature a solid core, which contributes to their durability. Premium golf balls may have multi-layer cores designed for distance and feel.
  3. Dimples: The dimple pattern on range balls may vary from that of regular golf balls. The focus is on durability rather than aerodynamics and spin control.

Distance and Performance

Driving range golf balls are not optimized for distance and performance in the same way that regular golf balls are. Here’s why:

  1. Limited Flight: Range balls typically do not fly as far as regular golf balls. They are designed for controlled distances within the confines of the driving range.
  2. Inconsistent Ball Flight: Due to differences in construction and wear, range balls may exhibit inconsistent ball flight characteristics, making it difficult for golfers to gauge their true shot performance.
  3. Limited Spin: Range balls generally produce less backspin and sidespin compared to premium golf balls, impacting shot control and shaping.

Durability and Maintenance

The primary goal of driving range golf balls is longevity. They are subjected to repetitive use, striking hard surfaces like mats and range baskets. Their durability comes with trade-offs:

  1. Scratches and Scuffs: Range balls are prone to surface imperfections, including scratches and scuffs, which can affect their flight and performance.
  2. Color Fading: With extended use and exposure to the elements, the vibrant colors of range balls may fade over time.
  3. Core Compression: Repeated impacts can lead to variations in the compression of range balls, further affecting their consistency.

Practice vs. Play

It’s essential to recognize the distinction between using range balls for practice and playing with regular golf balls on the course:

  1. Practice Benefits: Range balls are ideal for honing your swing, working on alignment, and practicing different shots without worrying about losing expensive golf balls.
  2. Course Play: When playing an actual round of golf, it’s crucial to use regular golf balls designed for optimal performance and consistency.

Maintaining Range Balls

To ensure the best experience for golfers, driving range facilities must actively maintain their range balls:

  1. Cleaning: Regular cleaning of range balls is essential to remove dirt, debris, and grass stains. Clean balls offer better visibility and can extend the lifespan of the balls.
  2. Rotation: To minimize wear and tear on specific balls, range operators often rotate their inventory. This involves periodically switching out older, more worn balls for newer ones.
  3. Quality Control: Periodic quality checks help ensure that range balls remain consistent in terms of flight and performance. Range operators may discard severely damaged or underperforming balls.

Impact on Practice

While driving range golf balls may not replicate the experience of playing with premium golf balls on the course, they still offer several advantages for practice:

  1. Affordability: Range balls are cost-effective, allowing golfers to hit more shots during practice without the fear of losing expensive balls.
  2. Consistency: Within the driving range environment, range balls offer a relatively consistent experience, which is valuable for honing swing mechanics and building muscle memory.
  3. Target Practice: Range balls are ideal for target practice, helping golfers work on accuracy and distance control.

Transition to Course Play

When transitioning from the driving range to the golf course, it’s essential for golfers to make adjustments:

  1. Club Selection: Recognize that the distances achieved with range balls may differ from regular golf balls. Adjust your club selection accordingly.
  2. Shot Shape: Due to differences in spin and flight, work on adapting your shot shape and strategies when playing with regular golf balls on the course.
  3. Mental Transition: Mentally prepare for the transition from practice to play. Understand that you may encounter variations in ball flight and performance.

Comparison of Golf Ball Types

Golf Ball TypeDurabilityDistanceAccuracyCostFeel
Premium Golf BallHighLongHighHighSoft
Range BallLowShortLowLowHard
Used BallVariesVariesVariesLowVaries
Recycled BallVariesVariesVariesLowVaries
Refurbished BallMediumMediumMediumMediumMedium

Pros and Cons of Range Golf Balls

CostInexpensivePoor performance on the course
DurabilityResistant to wear and tearLess authentic flight and spin
Practice ValueSuitable for practice and warm-upInaccurate representation of real play
Environmental ImpactOften made from recycled materialsLack of consistent quality
Real Game PerformanceNot designed for real game scenariosLimited feedback on shot quality

Range Golf Ball Characteristics

Construction MaterialSurlyn or similar durable cover
Core TypeTypically low-compression core
Dimple PatternStandard dimple patterns for stability
WeightUsually heavier than premium balls
CompressionLow compression for durability
SpinLimited spin for straighter flight
Price RangeAffordable, often sold in bulk

Performance Comparison – Range vs. Premium Golf Balls

AspectRange Ball PerformancePremium Ball Performance
AccuracyLess accurateMore accurate
SpinLimited spinControlled spin
FeelHard feelSoft feel
DurabilityResistant to wearLess durable

Factors Affecting Range Ball Performance

FactorInfluence on Performance
Ball ConditionQuality varies based on wear
Swing SpeedLower swing speeds may benefit
Club SelectionIrons and wedges may perform better
Weather ConditionsWind and temperature can affect
Skill LevelBeginners may find them sufficient


In summary, driving range golf balls serve a specific purpose in golf practice facilities. They are durable and cost-effective but lack the performance characteristics of regular golf balls. While they may not be ideal for simulating on-course conditions, they are invaluable for skill development and practice. Golfers should understand their limitations and choose the appropriate ball type for their needs, balancing practice and play to improve their overall game.

How Bad Are Driving Range Golf Balls


  • Grace Kaufman

    Grace Kaufman, our Creative Director and a Golf Course Design Specialist, brings a touch of creativity and visual flair to The Golf Mine. With a keen eye for design and a deep understanding of course layout, she ensures that our content not only informs but also engages and inspires. Grace's innovative approach, combined with her specialization in golf course design, enhances the overall experience for our readers, making our blog more than just words on a screen.

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