Whether you’re an avid golfer or new to the game, you might be curious about the lifespan of your golf balls.
Do golf balls go bad over time? And if so, how can you tell when it’s time to replace them?
We’re here to answer those questions and others in this golf ball longevity guide.
We’ll explain how long golf balls last, what factors affect a golf ball’s shelf life and how to extend the shelf life of your golf balls to make the most out of your investment.
Do Golf Balls Go Bad?
Yes and no — golf balls do not necessarily go "bad" in the sense that they spoil or rot like food, but their performance can degrade over time due to various factors.
The lifespan of a golf ball is influenced by its construction, materials, storage conditions and usage.
Golf balls can become damaged or degraded by water, heat, cold, sunlight, dirt and age.
These factors can also affect the weight, compression, elasticity, distance, accuracy, feel, sound and appearance of golf balls.
How Long Do Golf Balls Last?
The average shelf life of a golf ball is about 10 years, if it’s unused and stored properly.
However, the average lifespan of a golf ball that is used regularly is about 7 rounds of golf.
Why 7 rounds? Because that’s when a golf ball typically starts to lose its distance and spin, which can affect your accuracy and control on the course.
Of course, these numbers are averages and may vary depending on the type and quality of the ball, the conditions of the course, and your swing speed and style. Some balls may last longer than others, depending on their construction and material.
How To Tell if a Golf Ball Has Gone Bad
The best way to tell if a golf ball has gone bad is to inspect it visually and physically before you use it.
Here are some signs that a golf ball is no longer good to play with:
Cracks or cuts: If you see any cracks or cuts on the surface of the ball, it means that the integrity of the ball has been damaged. This can significantly affect the flight and spin of the ball.
Discoloration or fading: If you notice any discoloration or fading on the surface of the ball, it means that the material of the cover has been exposed to UV rays or chemicals. This can slightly affect the appearance and feel of the ball.
Scuffs or dents: If you see any scuffs or dents on the surface of the ball, it means that the aerodynamics of the ball have been altered. This can have a moderate effect on the distance and accuracy of the ball.
Factors That Affect a Golf Ball’s Shelf Life
So what plays a role in the shelf life of your golf balls?
Wear and tear: Every time you hit a golf ball with your club, you create an impact and friction that can damage the surface and core of the ball. Over time, this can cause cracks, cuts, scuffs or dents on the ball, which can reduce its aerodynamics and flight. Hitting hard objects like trees, rocks or cart paths can also cause severe damage to the ball.
Exposure to low or high temperatures: Golf balls are designed to withstand normal weather conditions like sun, wind, rain or snow. However, extreme temperatures or humidity can affect the performance and durability of the ball. For example, high heat can soften the cover and core of the ball, making it lose its shape and elasticity. On the other hand, low temperatures can harden the ball, making it less responsive and bouncy. Moisture can also penetrate the cover and reach the core of the ball, causing it to lose its distance and spin.
General aging: Even if you store your golf balls properly and don’t use them often, they can still degrade over time due to natural aging processes. Over time, rubber can oxidize and lose its elasticity, plastic can become brittle and crack, and Ionomer or urethane can fade or discolor.
Construction and materials: High-quality golf balls made with advanced construction techniques and materials tend to have a longer shelf life compared to lower-quality balls. The resilience and durability of the materials used can significantly impact the ball's performance and lifespan. Most golf balls are made of materials such as rubber, plastic, ionomer or polyurethane. These materials have different properties and characteristics that affect how they react to impact, temperature, moisture and other elements.
Storage conditions: Proper storage is essential for maintaining a golf ball's shelf life. To get the most out of your golf balls, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.
How To Extend the Shelf Life of a Golf Ball
If you want to make your golf balls last longer, there are a few things you can do to extend their shelf life. Here are some tips for extending the life of a golf ball:
Buy Quality Golf Balls
Quality golf balls are made of durable materials and layers that can withstand more wear and tear. They may cost more upfront, but they will last longer and perform better than cheaper, low quality golf balls.
Some of the highest quality golf balls include:
Callaway Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X: These golf balls feature a soft feel and provide excellent distance, control and spin. The Chrome Soft is ideal for players looking for a softer feel, while the Chrome Soft X offers a slightly firmer feel and higher ball flight.
TaylorMade TP5 and TP5x: These golf balls boast a 5-layer construction that delivers a combination of distance, control and spin. The TP5 offers a softer feel and more spin, while the TP5x has a firmer feel and promotes a higher launch.
Bridgestone Tour B Series: The Tour B series includes various models, such as the Tour B X, Tour B XS, Tour B RX and Tour B RXS — each tailored to different player preferences and swing speeds. These balls offer exceptional distance, control and feel.
Srixon Z-Star and Z-Star XV: These golf balls are designed for players who seek distance and control. The Z-Star is suitable for golfers who prefer a softer feel, while the Z-Star XV offers a firmer feel and more distance.
Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x: These premium golf balls are known for their consistent performance, exceptional distance and soft feel. They offer excellent control and are popular among both beginner and professional golfers. In 2019, professional golfer Alex Chiarella used the Titleist Pro V1 for 72 holes in the Mackenzie Tour-Canada — which he won.
Use the Right Golf Balls
Different golf balls can benefit different players and work better in certain conditions. Using the right golf ball for your game can help you improve your performance and avoid unnecessary damage to the ball.
For example, if you have a high swing speed, you may want to use a urethane-covered ball that offers more spin and control. If you play on a rough course, you may want to use an ionomer-covered ball that offers more durability and distance.
Clean Your Golf Balls Regularly
Cleaning your golf balls regularly can help remove any dirt, sand or grass that may stick to the cover and affect the flight and roll of the ball.
You can use a damp cloth or a soft brush to wipe off debris from the ball, or mild soap and water to wash off stains. Just make sure to dry the ball thoroughly before storing it.
Avoid Prolonged UV Exposure
Limit the amount of time your golf balls are exposed to sunlight, as UV rays can degrade the outer layer, leading to discoloration and reduced performance.
Keep Golf Balls Away From Water
Avoid submerging golf balls in water for extended periods of time. Water absorption can affect the weight and performance of the balls. If a ball gets wet, dry it off before storing it.
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