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Do Used Golf Balls Lose Distance?

distance ruler
distance ruler

It is so incredibly easy to lose your golf balls, as millions of them are lost each year.

The added costs of buying new balls can really add up, so you may think of buying used golf balls. Therefore, you may wonder: do used golf balls lose distance?

In this article, we will tell you exactly whether or not used or refurbished golf balls lose distance.

Do Used Golf Balls Lose Distance?

Used golf balls will lose carry distance depending if their structural integrity is damaged. Cracked, fissured, highly scuffed, permanently deformed or waterlogged balls will lose carry distance as their intended design is compromised. Golf balls with debris attached will also see a loss in performance.

The truth behind whether used golf balls lose performance is a highly debated topic. Some studies measure the carry distance variation between brand new golf balls and golf balls that sat submerged in water for some time.

Some studies claim that there is no difference in carry distance between new and used golf balls, while other studies turn around to claim the opposite.

Who to believe? Who to trust? The best way to answer a question is to clearly define the question, as well as the variables surrounding it.

The main thing to keep in mind is that used golf balls come in different conditions.

Some used golf balls are in great condition, but have just been hit a few times, with small amounts of paint rubbed off. These good condition golf balls do not lose performance until they have been hit over about 650-700 times.

Other used golf balls actually have major damage such as fissures, cracks, waterlogging, missing dimples and permanent deformation from blunt force or extreme temperatures. Golf balls with these kinds of imperfections have gone bad and will experience a loss in carry distance.

Even small damage to your ball, such as scuffing, can reduce carry distance by a few yards. However, the aforementioned larger imperfections, such as cracks, have even more influence in terms of lost distance.

A brand new golf ball left submerged in water for a few months does not automatically become waterlogged. A golf ball can only be waterlogged if the water can find a way inside the golf ball, and a golf ball needs to have small micro-fissures in it at the very least for that to happen.

This means that a new golf ball that still has structural integrity (no fissures, no cracks, etc.) can spend a long time in the water without becoming “used”. You will not experience a loss in carry distance from this kind of golf ball.

However, even a brand new golf ball can significantly lose carry distance from one day to the other especially if you do not clean your golf balls.

If your golf ball has debris attached to it, such as mud, dirt, or more, its balance will be thrown off, and the carry distance will suffer significantly. Make sure you clean your golf balls after every shot with a towel or something similar.

Should You Use Used Golf Balls?

If you aspire to be a professional golfer, then you should never play with used golf balls, as their uncertain performance can add strokes to your score. However, if you are a golfer who plays for fun, used golf balls can be a cheaper & ecological alternative to new golf balls.

Whether or not you play with used golf balls will come down to your goals, personal preference, and desire to contribute to helping the environment.

First of all, if you wish to become a professional golfer, or if you are already a professional, then you should always play with brand new golf balls (unless at the driving range).

When you are competing for prize pools and ranking points, every stroke and every extra yard of carry distance matter. When you are competing, you cannot leave the wildly varying quality performance of used golf balls up to luck.

However, if you are a hobbyist golfer who just plays for fun and personal pride, then using brand new golf balls all the time is not necessary. Used golf balls can work decently enough if you play for fun.

On the other hand, do inspect used golf balls before using them. If you notice any fissures or cracks, it might be best to swap the affected balls out.

Furthermore, to test for waterlogging, you can use the Waterlog Check Test, which consists in dumping your golf balls in a bucket of saltwater. The waterlogged golf balls will sink, and the others will float.

Finally, golf balls cannot be recycled, and one of the best ways to fight the pollution of the Earth is to reuse old balls.

For the people who care about the environment, reusing old golf balls can be a great way to save both money and the integrity of our beautiful planet.

In the end, if you are not a professional golf player, using used golf balls versus brand new ones will not make that much of a difference in your life. It is all up to personal preference.

To understand the impact of golf balls on the environment, it can be insightful to learn how many golf balls are produced every year and how many golf balls are lost in nature each year.


There you go! After reading this article, you have discovered whether or not used or refurbished golf balls lose carry distance relative to new golf balls.

Do you mind using used or refurbished golf balls? Let us know in the comments down below!

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