Range Balls Versus Real Golf Balls For Practice
John sends in this question via the Ask Terry button :

Q: How do practice range 85% distance balls work and how does that correlate to real life play ? Is the 85% consistent for all clubs, or just for maximum distances ? I know that Lady balls tend to go farther for short irons, but do not improve the long game, so are these balls similar ? Are they softer ? Any info would be great because I love the way they play. I don’t believe that I can hit a 7 iron over 200 yards when I add 15% to the 175 yards (sky high) I hit on the range.

A: This question, or rather set of questions, asks a lot. First of all, I don’t get the “85%” thing on range balls at all, so I can’t comment.

But in general, range balls are for practicing your swing, and since you don’t play those on the course, they are of no use whatsoever in trying to determine your actual distances.

When on the range, just focus on contact consistency and general trajectory.

You really puzzled me on the 200 yard 7-iron question, and I can’t even imagine anyone hitting one that far.

By my math, if you hit your 7 iron 200 yards, then you hit your driver at least 325, right ?

And your pitching wedge goes about 150 or so ?

Do you realize that the PGA Tour average for a 6-iron is 168 ?
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[ comments ]
John says:
I made a few swing changes and I do expect to hit the ball farther now, but not that much farther. Since I made swing changes, my golf course changed to these new balls. I used to hit high fades with all of my clubs and now I hit mostly high draws that go farther, even with these balls.

I would have to guess that the 85% is mostly a limiting factor for shots over 250 yards since that is where the net is, at the shortest area of the driving range. I shoot for the farthest corner at 275 and have a hard time rolling it there. This is controlled by the inner core of the golf ball? Guessing, since that is one of the incentives to use the ProV1.... that they offer a little more distance for high swing speeds because it activates the inner core?

I did manage to get my 5 iron to roll to the 250 yard net. Over 200 carry. I don't hit my driver 325. Lucky to get it 300 on the roll. I have never been fit for loft, ball or launch angle for my driver. I tend to swing faster on the practice range, where I build up to a smooth swing and it does not matter if I shank one. My farthest drive during a round was about 280 counting by steps and it went so high that it stopped as soon as it landed. Right now, I am just a hacker trying to get one to land on the green. That is difficult when I just made some adjustments in my swing and my local course switched balls on me.
wedgeguy says:

I think you are putting too much emphasis on distance, and the fact that you are a self-confessed "hacker" indicates you are trying to get better. While you obviously are a strong guy, your progress in golf would be much quicker if you work on learning a controlled swing with your irons. Given your strength, you should work to develop your iron distance to give you a consistent 180 or so with your five iron, which would translate to about 145 with your 8 iron. The fact that you can hit it further than that can be security in the bag for those occasions when it is called for. Just to back up what I'm suggesting, the average tour player yardage for a 6-iron is 168. The advantage of the strong player like yourself is that you have an extra 15-20 yards in reserve with every iron, but don't use it except on special occasions.

The modern golf ball has lots of technology in it, and I won't get into that discussion here, if that's OK? All of them are very good, and it just takes a little experimentation to find one that gives you the trajectory, spin and feel you are seeking.
John says:
Right on with the controlled swing. A big part of that being distance control. When I study the all time great players I notice that they have the kind of swing that they can keep together at a higher tempo when they need it, or slow it down for a touch shot. I have found that the trick is in letting the tempo of the swing contol the distance and not to make a change of tempo during the swing. This is counterintuitive to the concept of controlling the shot because deciding on tempo should be a predetermined effort. When you suggest "contolled swing", my brain interprets that as having to do someting different during the shot to have a feeling of control, but I have to override that and think about the tempo of the swing. How do you determine what tempo to use? That is the fun of the challenge of golf. Most people just swing as hard as they can and then shorten the swing for anything less than maximum distance. That is a good way to bypass the whole idea of having to control the tempo, but probably leads to an incomplete understanding of the whole concept of distance control.
wedgeguy says:
John, That's a tough one -- "How do you determine what tempo to use?". Here's my approach: First of all, you have to control your tempo with the speed of your body rotation, not the speed of your arms or hands. To have a good swing, the body has to lead from the top, so the arms and hands cannot go faster than you are able to rotate your body core. (All the fitness rage in golf is on body core strengthening.) That said, I like to think of my body core speed like driving: I think "city driving" with all my wedge shots and short irons -- very controlled. Around the greens and putting, it's "school zone" -- nice and slow. On full shots, I think "55" the old highway speed limit -- plenty fast but controllable. When I need to get on one, I just try to put my body core into "passing gear" for that swing. See if you can get the feel for various speeds of your body core and you might see the light come on.
William L says:
Terry, great site you have here I just found it today and I was systematically making it through all of the past articles when I found this one and I have a question that is similar. Is there an improper way to swing or hit a golf ball that causes it to go farther then it should? I just started golfing last year, but my friend and I have been hitting the course five days a week since. Anyway, you mentioned to john that 200 yards with a seven iron is very unusual but I also seem to hit the irons abnormally far and it doesn't equate into me being a power hitter with my driver because I can barely hit the driver and when I do, It goes maybe 270 at best. I personally seem to do better with a full swing with less club and almost always screw up when I attempt 3/4 swings with more club. You mentioned the tour average for a six iron being 168 yards but once in a while you will see a pro put it 150+ yards with a pitching wedge, vijay singh for instance, and it doesn't seem like they are trying to kill it. Anyway, I'm 150 pounds and not particularly strong but I usually hit a sand wedge 130, pitching wedge 150 etc... so am I doing something wrong?
wedgeguy says:
William, "Wrong" is a pretty strong word to describe your distance. But "trying to kill it" is a relative term. I believe any golfer should hit the ball at a swing speed and pace that they feel in total control of. If that makes the ball go far, so be it. If you are only 150 "and not particularly strong", these distances are pretty amazing. So here's my question: Hitting your PW 150 yards, do you hit the green almost every time? What do you do from 100 yards? One thing you could be doing is severely delofting the club at impact. What is your ball flight like?

And I'll offer this. Since you are this hooked on golf, find a professional that you can work with. Your investment will be returned many times over and he can make sure you stay on an improvement track that will increase your enjoyment of the game.
Danny Lowery says:
What is an average drive for a beginning golfer not including the roll? I just started playing after thirty years of softball. Bad knees forced me to play something with hitting and no running? I am beginning to love it .
wedgeguy says:

That's a question for which there is no answer. As there is no such thing as "average" anywhere in this game in my observation. Your own optimum distance will depend on many things, from strength to flexibility, etc. But if you will learn a sound fundamental grip, you will be off to a great start. There's a post on this and another one coming.

Thorre says:
This thread has given me a headache.
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