Re: range ballsThere's so many myths about range balls. Let me explain a few things.
The range I use uses all real balls, everything from ProV1s to Top Flites. They fly about 90% as far as the real thing. Other ranges use limited flight balls, and these may only go 75% as far. These are the first two differences to be discussed.
First, "range" balls, the ones that are marked as such, are what we call limited flight balls. They are quite a bit lighter than standard 1.6 oz golf balls. For this reason, they float. Many range balls are labeled "floater" for this very reason. The rules of golf only limit how small and how heavy a ball can be, it can be as light or as large as you want. Lighter and/or larger balls don't go as far, so everyone makes balls that weigh 1.62 oz and are 1.8" in diameter. Range balls, however, are lighter.
The dimples are also designed to limit the flight of the ball. Since the dimples cause lift, the balls will not go as high either. Range balls usually have more dimples than standard golf balls, over 400 on occasion. Range balls are also very durable, made from hard surlyn. Range balls are either one or two piece balls, where as regular balls are almost always two or more. Range balls carry a compression of about 80-90, which is about the same as an average amateur golf ball. Some ranges use softer balls however.
Second factor is the core itself. When a ball is repeatedly struck and deformed, the core loses its resiliency. If you take a rubber band and stretch it, dry it out, or just let it get old, it doesn't have as much elasticity. Golf balls are also made from rubber. Rubber has a limited shape memory, so like aluminum, it can only be deformed so many times before it breaks. When the core finally wears out, the ball will become dead, and fly like a rock. Where I practice, we get a few "dead" balls in the bunch. They feel very soft and pure when you hit them sometimes, but rarely go very far. A good quality golf ball will last for a while, depending on how hard it's hit. I use a ball for about nine to twelve holes before the groove marks in the cover become pretty nasty, and the ball begins to feel like putty. Despite popular belief, scratched balls don't fly poorly. Why do you think they put dimples on them? It's the same thing. The thing is, modern golf balls are so well designed, that scratches will inhibit their flight, but nothing is worse than having a smooth sphere.
And if you've never tried it, take a golf ball and sand the dimples off, the hit it with a driver. I'll be willing to bet you can't hit it more than 150 yards.