I don’t know a single golfer who gets excited buying golf balls. Instead, they are a necessary evil to the sport we all love.
But if you’re like most golfers I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, how long do golf balls last anyway?
Because let’s face it, dropping $40-$50 (or more sometimes) on a dozen balls is frustrating. I’d much rather spend that money on other golf equipment or food/drinks during the round.
Today, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about golf ball longevity to help you save money but still play great.
How Long Do Golf Balls Last? Do Golf Balls Go Bad?
So, how long do golf balls last?
As you’ll learn today, there are a ton of different factors. But the key is to not lose golf balls in the first place… which is easier said than done.
However, research shows that golf balls can last up to 10 years.
Yes, that’s right… Most golf ball manufacturers agree that balls can last a decade when stored properly. But there’s a lot more to it like excessive heat or cold.
First, you need to actually keep the ball for more than a few holes and not hit it in the bushes, water, or other hazards. If you are able to keep using the same ball, studies have found that most balls can make it seven full rounds – about 126 holes.
- Pro golfers switch their golf balls much more than amateur golfers.
- You can easily play multiple rounds with the same ball (if you don’t lose it).
- Golf balls need to be stored at the right temperature or they will deteriorate.
- Golf balls have a shelf life and can make the sport harder if you keep them too long.
Keep reading to learn when to get rid of balls and more rules about switching balls in golf.
When to Get Rid of Golf Balls
Assuming you can keep the ball for more than 18 holes, you might wonder when I should switch it out? Here are the biggest factors to consider.
- Cracked or chipped balls. If your ball is cracked or chipped (which usually happens from a hitting a tree or cart path), it’s time to swap it out. Once the cover is jeopardized, the performance of the ball will diminish and affect distance/spin.
- Not flying the correct distance. If you notice that you’ve seemingly lost distance, it might be time to swap out for a new ball.
- The bounce test. If you aren’t sure if your ball needs to be replaced, compare it with a new ball by bouncing it on concrete. If the used balls bounce significantly less, it’s probably time to use a new one.
- You’re in a slump. If you’re struggling on the golf course, sometimes a new ball and/or new glove is needed. While there are no physical benefits, it’s a psychological reframe to reset and hopefully leave the bad shots in the past.
How to Store Golf Balls
It’s hard to believe it but golf balls can last a decade!
While they might last that long, they might become obsolete if you choose to use 10-year-old golf balls. Since most golf manufacturers create a new line every year or other year, playing old balls might make the game harder.
But if you’re a recreational vs. an avid golfer and don’t care so much, buying in bulk and storing is a good way to save money. Here are the best strategies to store them in the right conditions so they last longer.
- Store golf balls at room temperature. There has been a myth among the golfing population that they’ll last longer if kept in a freezer but this simply is not true. So keep them on a shelf in your garage or closet, not your freezer. Ideally you want to keep them at 70–80 degrees to extend the shelf life and avoid extreme hot temperatures.
- Be careful of rain/humidity. If you live in a place where the temperature changes drastically it might be a better idea to store them inside vs. the garage. This will ensure they don’t get impacted by any bad weather conditions.
- Always store golf balls inside. Finally, make sure to keep them inside and in the sleeves/box vs direct exposure to sunlight to extend shelf life of new golf balls. The UV rays can impact the outer layer and limit their long term use.
FAQs About Storing Golf Balls (Golf Ball Storage)
Do you have more questions about golf balls? If so, keep reading to learn the most frequently asked questions and answers below.
Can golf balls be stored in the cold?
It’s not a good idea and golf balls go bad in extreme temperatures. Even if you have a brand-new ball that’s sitting in cold temperatures it can impact performance golf ball researchers have found.
Do golf balls deteriorate with age?
It depends on if the ball has been hit or not. If you haven’t hit the ball and it’s been stored in optimal conditions (as noted above) they can last up to a decade!
But if you’ve been playing the ball and haven’t lost it, balls do begin to lose performance. This is why range balls don’t fly the same as normal golf balls. They lose their dimples and the exterior gets affected which impacts distance and spin.
When can you switch golf balls?
You are allowed to switch golf balls out during the round. However, you can’t do it in the middle of the hole. Here is the rule from the United States Golf Association.
“You can always use a new ball when starting a hole. You can also substitute a different ball any time you are taking relief, including both free and penalty relief.
Unless the one-ball Local Rule is in effect, the substituted ball could be any brand, make or model. On the putting green however, when you mark and lift your ball, you must replace that same ball to finish out the hole.”
What is the one ball rule in golf?
The one ball rule means that you must play the same make and model ball during the entire round. This rule is rarely in effect for most golf tournaments and more common in professional and high level amateur events.
For example, if you start the round with a Titleist Pro V1 ball you need to use that same brand the entire round. In this example you couldn’t switch to a Pro V1X even during the round. You’re also able to borrow a ball from a fellow player as well.
The most famous example of a player almost getting penalized was Tiger Woods in the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach. Tiger had taken a few sleeves out the night before to practice putting them in his hotel room but forgot to put them back in his bag. During that round he switched balls and gave the other ones to fans.
However, as he stood on the 18th tee he hit his tee shot left in the Pacific Ocean. His caddy pulled out a ball and realized it was the only ball in his bag. He didn’t mention it to Tiger to avoid putting unnecessary pressure but luckily Tiger hit a perfect next tee shot.
Otherwise, Tiger might not have had one of his most major wins!
How often do pros switch golf balls? Do professional golfers use a new ball every hole?
Most professional golfers switch balls quite often but not on every shot. Otherwise, they’d have to carry six sleeves with them at all times which makes those Tour bags even heavier for the caddies.
But since they usually have unlimited supply thanks to their sponsors, they switch multiple times per round. If a ball hits a tree, cart path, or gets scuffed, they’ll typically swap it out.
How often should you replace your golf balls?
As an amateur golfer you don’t need to replace them nearly as often as the pros. Since we have to pay about $50 for a dozen, it’s not the most economical thing to do either. I play a lot of tournament golf and only switch during the round if there is a noticeable scuff from hitting a tree or path.
You can easily play the same ball multiple rounds before it needs to get replaced (assuming you don’t lose it of course).
Do used golf balls lose distance?
Used golf balls can lose driving distance depending on how old they are and how many times they’ve been hit.
This is one of the reasons that range balls typically don’t travel as far as a brand-new golf ball. They get hit hundreds if not thousands of times which will wear down the dimples and ultimately impact performance.
What do you do with old golf balls?
A lot of times you might need to switch out balls but don’t want to throw away old ones that still perform okay. If the ball isn’t cracked, it’s a good idea to keep a shag bag for practice. This will ensure you practice with the same ball you play golf with.
For example, it’s better for chipping practice to use the same Pro V1 that is used on the course vs. an old driving range ball. I like to mark my shag bag practice balls so they’re easy to spot in case others are using the chipping green too. This should help improve your practice sessions and learn how much your ball spins for better results on the course.
How many hits does a golf ball last?
About seven rounds of golf – which is 126 holes (roughly).
It can depend on a number of factors including how often you hit, clubs you use, swing speed, if it hits trees/cart paths, and more. Use a magic eraser brush to clean them after round if you want to keep using them.
Is it okay to store golf balls in the garage?
Ultimately it depends on where you live and the average temperature. Golf balls last the longest when stored between 70–80 degrees, which isn’t the temperature of most garages in the winter. It’s a better idea to keep them in a closet inside your house that is in that temperature range.
Are 20-year-old golf balls any good?
No, it’s best to toss those golf balls in the trash. If stored properly golf balls can last up to a decade (roughly) so 20 years is far too long. Even if the golf balls are still good after a decade they’re likely obsolete in terms of technology.
What are the best golf balls?
Today’s Titleist golf balls are some of the best golfing equipment out there. Their modern golf ball is used by tons of professional and amateur golfers. Click here to see the best golf balls to match your game.
Unused golf balls can last nearly a decade in optimal storing conditions. While a used golf ball can last about seven rounds of golf… assuming you don’t accidentally donate it to the lake or other hazard.
If you choose to store golf balls for the long run, make sure they are in the right space to not deteriorate. Otherwise, make sure to switch balls on a regular basis so you don’t lose out on distance or spin.
Rules wise, make sure you don’t switch balls in the middle of a hole and wait until it’s complete. And if the ball ever has a chip in it, make sure to throw it away and swap balls once the hole is finished. Lastly, if you play in a tournament always check if the one ball rule is in effect to avoid a Tiger-like situation in competition.