How Often Should You Change Golf Balls?

Amateur golfers or those who simply enjoy taking a few drives on the weekend probably rarely think about the state of their golf balls. Unfortunately, golf balls can (and do) wear out over time. In fact, worn out golf balls could be robbing your drive of several yards, ruining your competitiveness with your friends.

That’s why it’s important to know when you need to change your golf balls. The truth is, you don’t need to change them all that often. However, that doesn’t mean they should never be changed. Here is a simple guideline to gauge when your golf balls have worn out and when you should replace them.

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Understanding The Build Of Your Golf Balls

Golf balls are made up of two important items: the core and the cover. The core is made up of a variety of polymers that are designed to be resistant to repeated strikes. In the past, the core was made up of rubber bands and liquid centers, but that old-fashioned construction has been replaced with stronger materials. As a result, cores are hardier and last a lot longer.

The same goes for your cover. The cover is the exterior of your golf ball, the material that surrounds the core and protects it from damage. They are typically made up of a firm ionomer material. However, some are made with a softer urethane material. The latter is more likely to experience damage than the former, though is likely to give you longer distances on your drives.

Damage to these two items comes from both everyday use and the wear-and-tear of a typical golf game. For example, your cover can be damaged bouncing off a golf cart path or even by getting struck just right by the sharp edge of your iron.

When You Should Change

Golf ball experts state that a typical golf ball should be good enough for at least seven 18-hole rounds. During these rounds, you should see no loss of distance in your drive or problems with ball control. However, damage to the cover is more likely to begin showing up after these rounds. While it’s still possible to use your older golf balls after this point, slight damage is likely to start impacting your game.

A good way to gauge the health of your golf balls is to rub your hand over the cover of the ball. Don’t worry about a loss of paint or slight marks, such as paint stains. However, if you feel a “scruff” i.e. worn around edges around the contours of the ball, there’s a very good chance that it needs to be replaced. If you aren’t sure if your ball needs to be replaced, try this simple test.

  • Take your golf balls out to the range, including balls you haven’t yet hit
  • Make several drives with new golf balls, gauging how far each shot goes on average
  • Take shots with the old golf balls you’re thinking of replacing
  • Gauge how much distance, if any, you lost with the older scuffed balls

A loss of a yard or two isn’t a major problem. After all, that could just be a concern with individual performance between shots. However, if your drive drops by 10 or more yards consistently with the older and more damaged golf balls, it’s time to get rid of them.

Where You Can Take Your Old Golf Balls

If you don’t want to throw away your old golf balls, you could always take them to a golf ball recycling center. These centers carefully remove the resins from the core by stripping off the cover. These items can then be recycled into new golf balls, helping to save on the creation of new materials.

However, you can also donate your old golf balls to youth golf leagues (who will use them as practice balls) or even to golf courses (who may use them for their practice areas, driving ranges, or putting greens). In fact, many golf courses will actually buy old golf balls from you in bulk, helping you to make a little extra money on the deal.

By following these guidelines, you can get rid of your old golf balls before they impact your game. This can help you stay competitive when you hit the links with friends and business partners. Whether or not you want to share these tips with them is up to you, but it might be best to keep them a secret. After all, that’ll give you a little edge over them.

Adam Jenkins

I’m certainly no expert on the game of golf, but I am someone who knows what it’s like to start out completely overwhelmed. From one beginner to the next, here's to a better golf game!

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