How Long Do Golf Balls Last? 3 Things to Consider

bucket of golf balls on grass

Meet Jake

Jake was a competitive golfer for over a decade dating back to the days of being the Captain of his high school golf team. He has played more than 200 courses across 32 different states in the US. Now semi-retired, Jake continues to golf 3-4 days a week with a current 2 handicap, gives golf lessons to his friends and family, and provides a wealth of knowledge to Golf Circuit from his competitive playing days. Jake combines practical expertise with technical knowledge to create golfing strategies and training techniques for both beginners and scratch golfers.

How long does it take for golf balls to go bad, and how long do golf balls last in general? Let’s take a quick look at all the factors.

Typically, golf balls last about 7-rounds before you should change them out for another one. If you don’t see any visible damage after 7-rounds, you can keep playing with it for another 7-rounds.

Many golfers like to use the same ball for as long as possible. But there are many golfers that you will notice changing the ball quite often. What does this move depend on? Is it some kind of strategy? Well, actually, no.

Unsurprisingly, golf balls are subject to damage due to wear and tear after they are used for some time. You will notice scratches, among other things.

That is also the case if they are not stored properly. Leaving them on the shelf is not the way to go with these white balls. But we will tell you all about that in this piece.

Cover Material

Every golf ball has two physical components: the material of its cover and the core. The cover of a golf ball is usually made of ionomer, which is the tough one, or urethane, which is the soft one.

An ionomer is hard and is good for distance golf balls such as the Callaway Warbird and Bridgestone. They are hard, making them a good choice for practice or games on rough terrain.

Urethane balls are generally the ones you find in the market. The latter is comparatively thinner, which means the dimples can get scratched more easily.

But it is used for 3-, 4- and 5-piece balls and is used by premium golf balls like the Titleist Velocity and Srixon Soft Feel. The shell is durable, which means it is good for a few years if you buy it in mint or new condition.

Whichever type of golf ball you use, they will be good for about seven rounds. After that, you must check them for cuts or scratches.

Core Material

Most modern balls have a polymer core that withstands all swing speeds. Compared to the ones made in the past, these are extremely durable and can maintain their shape and help golfers maintain their performance. Their lifespan makes them a hot favorite among professionals.

But if the ball hits a water body and stays in there for 12 hours or more, it can cause permanent damage. That’s because water penetrates the cover material to the golf ball’s core, and the ball will lose its driving distance.

So, this is a no-no unless you have those “eco-balls” that Joe Paxton from The Proposal. Those will just dissolve, apparently.

How Long Do 2-Piece Golf Balls Last?

If you lose a 2-piece golf ball to a water body, you will lose a distance of about six yards if it’s not retrieved for a week. And if you let it be for three months, you can expect it to drop three additional yards.

damaged golf balls that don't last a long time

But generally, these golf balls are said to last a good period of time because their core is made of solid rubber and soft plastic. The cover is durable ionomer, which gives it some extra protection.

When maintained well, 2-piece golf balls typically last for 5-7 years. They are meant for golfers with handicaps and hence can go the distance when the speed of the swing isn’t very high.

Do Golf Balls Go Bad In Water?

If a 3-piece ball stays in the water for about a week, it also loses roughly six yards, and if you leave it there for three months, you can expect to lose 12 yards.

Forget about it for six months, and that number will go up to 15 yards. The same is true for 4-piece and 5-piece golf balls.

This is because 3-piece balls are made with a liquid or solid rubber center. They have elastic windings all around them, which provide stress relaxation.

The cover is usually made of balata, a tree substitute for rubber, or Surlyn, a copolymer. These are expected to do well for a couple of years.

Storage Considerations

how long do golf balls last in water

When you are not using golf balls, you must store them safely in a place that has a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In that case, golf balls will last for about 10 years.

In fact, under these conditions, you won’t be able to differentiate between a brand new ball and one that has been in storage for a long time.

But there are a lot of myths on the internet about golf balls and their storage conditions. So, don’t be surprised if you find that they do well and stay fresh and compressed if you keep them in a freezer.

That’s not true at all because, in such low temperatures, golf balls tend to lose distance. If you’ve ever played the sport in a cold region, you’d know that to be a fact.

That’s why you need to keep them in a common room that is cool, dry, and can be temperature controlled.

If you have a Titleist ball, all you need to do is protect it from excessive heat, and you can use it for 5 or more years.

Now, there is a possibility that you might be disappointed after the ball has been in storage for a few years. This is despite how hard golf ball manufacturers have been trying to improve the performance of balls that have been in storage for a long time.

Suppose your golf ball is not giving you the output you want despite storing it as described above. In that case, you might want to check in with the manufacturer’s notes and see if you’ve missed any upgrades.

On the other hand, if you want to extend the life of a gold ball you are already using, you can do a couple of things. Apart from keeping tabs on the storage conditions, you should wash the balls carefully to make sure you get rid of the scuffs. And if needed, you can use a magic eraser brush. But be gentle.

Are 20 year old golf balls still good?

Under correct storage conditions, golf balls only last about 10 years before they start to degrade.

For golf balls over 20 years, it is probably best to consider a newer one. A lot of technology changes in 20 years as well, so you will best be served with a new golf ball.

Final Thoughts On How Long Do Golf Balls Last

Typically, an average golf ball does a pretty good job for seven rounds. If you don’t see any visible damage, you can keep playing seven rounds. We’re talking about 18-hole rounds here, by the way.

But if you see wear and tear before or at that point, it is time for you to get a new one. You might also want to feel the ball and see if it is rough. That’s also a good time for a replacement.

This might depend on the type of swing or the terrain. In any case, how many balls you change has no implication on your game or pride. Damage can also come from landing on the path or the golf cart, hitting trees, and such.

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