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Harry Longshanks

Limited Flight Range Balls

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After several minutes of freaking out at the range early this morning, it occurred to me that my local range had replaced full flight balls with limited distance balls. (I confirmed this with the pro shop - a woman was hit in the head by an errant ball last month.)


So I have some questions for those in the industry or ranges that use limited distance balls. (Not sure if it matters, but they are white balls with dual red stripes and black print "PRACTICE" on them):

  • What is the typical distance loss for each club? (or is it a uniform loss of yards or % of yards throughout the set?)
  • Is ball flight affected in any way other than distance loss? (i.e., Less spin? higher/lower flight? slice/hook lessened? start same as regular ball, but "bottom drops out"?)
  • Is it just me, or do they feel like carp? We used to have Top Rock Range balls (IIRC, the only substance harder than diamonds), and these feel worse.
  • When working on my swing, anything I should look for other than a loss of distance?
Thanks.
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I remembered I used a range ball on the course, my dad who is 56, was all of a sudden hitting further than i Was.. a good 20 yards.

my drives were perfectly straight so I assumed i crushed them, only to see his ball 20 yards further. I totally forgot that I was using a range ball.
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He is not talking about regular range balls. He is speaking of limited distance range balls. If I remember correctly by the packaging, I want to say that the ball flight and distance is 35% of a regular ball.
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He is not talking about regular range balls. He is speaking of limited distance range balls.

Yes, that's right. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

I'm trying to figure out if the limited distance balls would mask or exaggerate swing flaws (other than distance). Also, what causes them to fly shorter distances?
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I believe the core inside the ball is 50% foam. But this is going by a few years back memory. And they will most definately mask flaws.
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On a hunch, I checked the Top Flite website.

The balls were listed there. (Who knew?) It makes it sound like the dimple pattern is what limits the distance. That makes sense, because a ball without dimples flies significantly shorter. (Check the USGA website for a video called "the Truth About Dimples.) But I dispute the "without sacrificing feel" (maybe for a Top Rock), and I'm skeptical about the claim that trajectory isn't altered. Perhaps an email to Top Flite is in order. I mean, this is where I work on my swing. I need to know if I can trust what I see from the ball flight, right? EDIT: Email sent:
My local range just switched from full flight balls to Top Flight Range Limited Flight balls. Because I work on my swing at that range, I have some questions about how the change will affect ball flight: (1) What reduction in distance is normal?; (2) Is that distance reduction consistent from driver to wedge, or does it change?; (3) Is ball flight different in any way (i.e. height, trajectory, reduction/increase in slice of hook, etc.). The pro shop guy wasn't very helpful and it is very important for me to know how the balls might affect observable ball flight so I can continue to knowledgeably work on my swing. Thanks.

I will update if/when I get a response.

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Update:

Today I received the following email from Top Flite in response to my email:
Thank you for your recent E-mail. We would like the opportunity to discuss this with you in more detail, and ask that you please call our Customer Service Department at 866-834-6532. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 6:00am to 5:00pm Pacific Standard Time. The Representative you speak with will be happy to assist you in any way possible. If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to E-mail us back. Thank you, Customer Service

I called and was immediately put through to a very helpful Callaway CS rep. named "Missy". She didn't know about the exact distance loss, so she put me on hold and got the information from a sales rep.

The Top Flite Range Flight Limited balls cause a distance loss of 25% (i.e., balls travel 75% as long as they would with a full flight ball). She also said that there is no change to ball flight characteristics other than distance, according to the specifications she had. However, I grabbed a couple of the balls this morning from the range and I'm going to have my pro check them out when I go to my next lesson. (And because I have the most guilty conscious ever for even removing the balls from the range, I'm going to bring them back. However, I did grab one that had been cut up and made unplayable by the ball picker and I'm going to cut it in half - if I can figure out how to do that - and look at the composition of the ball.) Frankly, I'm a little annoyed about the complete lack of public disclosure (at the range) about these balls. I know the average recreational golfer won't care other than to know that the balls are reduced distance (although there weren't even any signs about that). But those of use who work on our swing need to know everything about how these balls react differently from full flight balls. If the only difference is distance, I'm okay with that (not happy, but okay.) And I still think that the feel of the RLF is carp . . . even when compared to Top Rock full flight range balls.
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(In case anyone other than me actually cares about this stuff.)

Last update unless something out of the ordinary happens.

I took a couple of the Top Flite Range Limited Flight balls to my pro today to get his opinion.

He hit them and confirmed that the only difference I should notice is a lack of distance. Ball flight should be the same as with full flight balls. Swing problems should create the same problems as they would with regular balls. (In my case, when my swing gets loose, a high cut.)
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If the distance is in fact reduced by the dimple pattern as opposed to the core composition, then the other flight characteristics would undoubtedly be affected. Dimples create lift as well as hook/slice, fade/draw based on the spin.

Harry, if you're able to get through to Callaway HQ in Carlsbad, CA see if you can get through to Steve Ogg, VP of R&D; and inventor of the hex dimple. I went to High School with him (Prosser H.S., Prosser, WA). I haven't spoken to him in years but he is a very nice and down to earth guy. He's an engineering genius that's smart enough to be able to explain things to us duffers.
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If the distance is in fact reduced by the dimple pattern as opposed to the core composition, then the other flight characteristics would undoubtedly be affected. Dimples create lift as well as hook/slice, fade/draw based on the spin.

totally agree w/you, both from experience and the fact that i'm an engineer... the 75% thing may be the case, but it seemed to me that if i hit a good hard 3 and a good hard 5 they would go the same..... you should be able to tell right off the bat, but most ranges won't advertise this, only after you ask

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I wouldn't trust how far I hit ANY range ball (even if the range was full of Pro V1's). Balls that sit outside in any kind of moisture, over time, will loose distance. Who knows how long a range ball layed in a puddle before the kid working a the range finally picked it up, and put it in a basket for you to hit it!

I agree it is IMPORTANT to know exactly how far you hit each club, but I believe that getting that info at the range with who knows how old range balls Ain't it...

The range is good for seeing your ball flight (hook, slice, low, or high), and for hitting that little red crap-o-la foreign car in the middle of the range, but that's about it!

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That would be your conscience, not your conscious.

I'm sorry Mistress Claire.

It will not happen again Mistress Claire. Please forgive me Mistress Claire.
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My range uses Wilson Staff Limited Distance.
I lose about 20 yards on my 3i (about 8% loss). As the clubs get shorter, I lose less, but the percentage seems about the same...about 13 yards on my 8i (about 8% loss).
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My home course uses limited flight, but has adjusted the yardage markers to reflect the loss of distance. We have a flag 115 yards out, but when you laser it, it is actually like 105 yards. I don't know how accurate this method is, so I don't try to calibrate my yardages on the range, and go by what I do on the course.
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yellow topflite super range, limited flight?

yellow topflite practice balls, limited flight?

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