Over a billion golf balls are sold every year, and a lot of them end up lost or in trash piles, polluting the Earth. However, some people are looking for a better place to safely dispose of their used golf balls, thinking they can be recycled.
If you too wish to be as eco-friendly as possible, you may wonder, can you recycle golf balls?
In this article, we will tell if golf balls can be recycled and the reasons behind the answer.
Can You Recycle Golf Balls?
No. You cannot recycle golf balls because of the materials and processes used to create them. Golf balls can be repurposed in creative ways, but they cannot be recycled to obtain raw materials once again.
There are multiple reasons at the base of why golf balls are not recyclable.
First of all, golf balls use multi-piece construction. Golf balls have an outer core, and an inner core, with each piece attached together by strong adhesives.
These adhesives are very hard to remove, so the different golf ball materials are stuck together unless you take considerable time and resources to take off the adhesives. Practically and in a business sense, the costs to remove the adhesives is too high relative to the value of a golf ball.
Furthermore, golf balls are made of materials that are either not recyclable or that are too impractical to recycle at scale. For example, materials golf balls often incorporate are urethane and neodymium polybutadiene, as well as other types of rubbers.
Conventional urethane cannot be recycled by heating it because the polymer networks that constitute it are too strong. Once you have urethane, you are kind of stuck with the form it currently is in. It is very hard to modify such a material into a more useful form, or to get raw materials from it.
Unlike with metals, you cannot melt a urethane material back into a different shape with the same material properties. However, you can still use certain mechanical or chemical methods to down cycle urethane into less useful forms.
In addition, the materials used to create golf balls are not biodegradable and will pollute the Earth if littered. Golf balls take over 100, and maybe even over 1000 years to decompose fully.
Recycling centers will not take your golf balls because they cannot be recycled. You will need to find a different use for your golf balls.
Reusing golf balls is probably the best way to “recycle” golf balls and reduce golf’s load on the environment. If you are not a professional player, you might want to consider reusing old balls. However, if you care about golfing performance, reusing golf balls will probably not work for you.
10 Ways To Repurpose Golf Balls
1. Reuse your old golf balls
Since golf balls can never really be recycled into raw materials, a great way to give them a new life is simply to keep playing with them. The truth is that golf balls are almost never truly unplayable.
Even though new golf balls tend to lose their performance after getting hit a certain number of times, unless they crack open you can always use them. You just probably will not get the best performances in the world.
Professional golf players need to use the best equipment possible to not lose an edge against their opponents, but they only represent a small minority of the 25 million golf players worldwide.
Unless you are a PGA Tour pro, you can probably afford to reuse your old golf balls for the sake of the environment.
2. Donate your old golf balls
If you do not want to reuse your old golf balls and are set on buying new golf balls, you can still give your old balls a new life.
Donate your old golf balls online, to people from your golf course or driving range, to a driving range, to golf schools, or anywhere else that might need golf balls.
You can probably even make a random kid’s day just by giving them a golf ball. Kids love little gifts like this and are still amazed at little things, even if they are extremely cheap. We can learn from them sometimes.
3. Sell your old golf balls
If you would like to recoup some of your golf playing costs, another option you have is to sell your old golf balls.
One way to sell your golf balls is to put an ad online for individuals to sell. If you throw in enough golf balls in the mix for a reasonable price, you should be able to get a sale.
Another, more sure-fire way to sell your golf balls is to offer them to a golf ball refurbishing company.
These companies clean multiple millions of golf balls a year that are given or sold to them. They then group the balls by brand thanks to computer-assisted machinery, and repackage the balls to sell them as refurbished balls.
4. Build a Cat Toy
One creative way of repurposing a golf ball is to turn it into a cat toy. Cats absolutely love balls and things that move that they can hit.
You could simply give your cat a golf ball. Your cat will be extremely happy to hit it, tap it, and chase around it, as cats love little balls. The size and weight of a golf ball is excellent for a cat.
Alternatively, you could attach a string to the golf ball and pull the string to get your cat to follow the ball.
Another option is to hang a golf ball from a surface so the ball is hanging on the string. Your cat can then hit the golf ball back and forth, and it will be amused by the movement. However, in this configuration, a small string size is recommended so that the cat does not hurt itself with the momentum of the pendulum swing.
5. Create Christmas ornaments
What besides a golf ball is small and round? Christmas ornaments!
There are many types of designs of Christmas ornaments you can create with old golf balls.
If you absolutely love golf, you can simply golf ball ornaments to the entire tree. To make this ornament, one method is to paint the golf ball with a thin layer of paint of the color of your choice. Then, hot glue metal wire to the top of the painted golf ball, wait a few seconds, and you can finally hang the golf ball onto your tree!
Another design you can make is a snowman by hot gluing 3-4 golf balls in a row. Then, you can add paint or other little elements, like plastic beads, onto the glued balls to give it a face and other details. However, watch out that no one swallows little parts.
Ask a parent to help you with the building of these ornaments if you are under 18 years old.
6. Make custom Bakugan
Do you remember that anime that took the world by storm back in 2007? Bakugan Battle Brawlers was an awesome show based on which these really cool little toys were created.
Bakugan balls are still sold in stores today, just like you can see in the image below:
If you like Bakugan, you can use old golf balls to turn them into your very own custom Bakugan! Simply take an old golf ball, paint it in the color of the attribute you want, and then hot glue a small, flat magnet to the bottom of the painted ball. You now have a custom Bakugan! You can also write the number of G’s on the custom Bakugan to denote its power level.
7. Make fun statues
Another great, fun and creative way to repurpose is to use them to create little statues that can be used to play with, display indoors or even in your garden.
Using some type of metal wiring, piping, hot glue, paint, and old golf balls, you can assemble fun little statues of people, animals, insects, and much more.
For example, you could build a little ant statue by using golf balls to make its head, thorax & abdomen. Then, you could use hot glue to attach metal wire to the golf balls. Finally, paint everything black and add other colored details and googly eyes to get a fun ant statue!
There are so many different types of animals & items you can create with old golf balls; the possibilities are endless.
8. Use old golf balls as massage balls
Old golf balls can also be used to improve your health and release stress & tension.
In fact, you can repurpose golf balls as massage balls to dig out knots in your muscles.
For example, you can place a few golf balls under your feet and let the weight of your legs fall onto the balls. Then, drive your feet gently into the balls, and start to roll them around the floor (we recommend having a carpet). This will feel good on your feet, like a free massage.
Alternatively, you can place a golf ball on the floor, then lie down on top of it, and move it into areas where you feel like you have a nerve stuck. Let the golf dig itself into your muscle knots for a few minutes until you switch to a different spot. Over time, this can really help you feel less pain, especially in your back.
9. Use old golf balls as marbles
Kids nowadays are a little bit too hooked onto electronic devices for entertainment, and you probably know better than them how good it feels to disconnect and do something offline.
A great example of a relaxing activity for kids is to play marbles. If you have old golf balls, your kids can use them as marbles and have loads of fun without being glued to their screens.
Golf balls are a bit bigger than marbles, but they work just as well. They might even be more fun to play with than marbles because of the size factor.
10. Use old golf balls as advanced juggling balls
Another really useful way to repurpose golf balls is to use them as juggling balls.
The thing with using golf balls as juggling golf balls is that they will be harder to juggle as beginner juggling balls.
Since golf balls are small, you need to be more precise to catch them as they fall down. Therefore, to juggle golf balls, you need to make very precise movements.
Old golf balls can be a great tool for anyone trying to improve their juggling skills. However, make sure you do not hit yourself in the face with a golf ball!
11. Build molecular model kits
Finally, you can paint golf balls to build molecular model kits with them.
Each painted golf ball can represent the atoms in a molecule, such as oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, or more.
You can use some kind of rods to represent the bonds, such as old pencils, crayons, or anything else that has a rod shape.
This is a great way to repurpose old golf balls if you teach chemistry to a class, or if you homeschool children.
There you go! After reading this article, you have discovered that golf balls cannot be recycled unfortunately, and the reasons why.
Fortunately, you also learned of a multitude of ways to repurpose your golf balls, even though they cannot be conventionally recycled.
Did you know if golf balls could be recycled? Let us know in the comments down below!