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It is a common misconception that if a golf ball stays on the shelf or in the bag, it will become faulty. This concern becomes a lot more pressing if the ball has spent some time underwater.
A common question people have is whether their golf balls will lose distance with age.
Two piece golf balls will last up to a decade without losing any distance. Three piece golf balls will last 2-4 years without starting to lose distance.
After extensive tests and a few balls that we had to dust out from deep corners of our attic, we’re here to give you a definitive answer, “No, golf balls do not lose distance with age.”
Now that is assuming that the golf balls have simply been sitting in your bag or on a shelf. If they have been sitting in the snow, rain, etc. for years then they will absolutely have worse performance than a new ball. However if the ball has been sitting inside on a shelf then even a decade shouldn’t degrade the performance of the ball.
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Do Golf Balls Lose Distance With Use?
The next thing you consider is whether golf balls will start to lose some distance after being used for a while. But even this really depends on what you mean by ‘use.’
Golf balls that are slightly scuffed or discolored shouldn’t lose any distance. However if the ball has become deformed or has started to tear then it will lose distance.
If it’s been a few months and the ball only has a few scuff marks and discoloration, your ball won’t lose distance with that kind of use. However, if the ball is starting to tear or has deformed, you may find that your shots may start to get inconsistent in terms of angle and how many yards it will travel.
That is not to say that you don’t have to take care of your golf balls. Many golfers often keep their clubs shining, but let their balls deteriorate. When they eventually do get around to using the old ball, it might seem that your performance is being affected.
However, this is probably just your mind playing tricks with you. There is virtually no impact on golf balls’ distance with age or use as long as the ball was taken care of.
Let’s take a closer look at the concept to help you understand the idea better.
Do Golf Balls Go Bad With Use?
Professional players usually use a new ball every day; this is purely a matter of personal preference and they have no regard for cost-saving. Unfortunately, the idea seems to have caught on with others who aren’t making a professional golfer’s salary.
Many players who follow professionals closely start believing there is a difference in the distance of a new ball vs. an old one.
Based on our research, we found that on the same course, the same weather conditions, and same time of day:
• A new ball traveled 225.6 yards
• A ball that was used with reasonable care for 1 month traveled 224.2 yards
• A ball used for 2 months with reasonable care managed to travel 221.9 yards
• A ball used for 5 months with reasonable care covered a distance of 227.4 yards.
The difference between the distances at the different times is very insignificant and can be attributed to human error. After the 5-month mark, the ball was scratched (not too badly) and had a lot of scuff marks on it but still managed to fly just fine.
There are no changes in trajectory except the wind’s impact or the distance.
All this is to say that it is okay for you to use a golf ball for multiple rounds – in fact, it is recommended if you want to save money! Yes, the ball itself is fairly cheap, but the costs eventually add up.
The damage from your club isn’t enough to damage your ball. The only reason we couldn’t test beyond the 5-month mark was that someone drove on top of it. At that point, the ball was disfigured and of course, could no longer give us a fair reading and couldn’t be classified as a ball kept under ‘reasonable care.’
What Is Reasonable Care For A Golf Ball?
Golf balls are very robust by default; however, if your ball goes onto the cart path, hits a tree trunk directly, or any other hard surface on your first shot, the impact may cause the resin to crack. Once or twice – or even 10 to 20 times – may not be enough, but each time the ball hits a hard surface, its chances of getting damaged increase.
Even if you are using the wrong club or using your club wrong (holding it at the wrong angle, for example), you can expect the ball’s spin, distance, and roll to be affected. This problem is fairly common for beginners.
Reasonable care means you do what you can to make sure the ball doesn’t get damaged. This doesn’t mean that if the ball hits a path or a tree once, it means you are not taking care of it. Of course, you are playing, and this will likely happen.
Still, hitting hard targets on purpose or using the wrong club would constitute carelessness on your part. You should note that a ball that sinks into the pond can also survive if you manage to fish it out quickly. If it was left in the pond for days it would hurt the ball’s performance.
Don’t let the ball sit underwater for more than 12 hours. Any longer, and you can expect the inner core to get soaked, leading to damage.
If you pull the ball out and wipe it up with a dry cloth, you are good to go.
During our tests, we had our ball land right into the pond quite a few times. One of us also managed to hit the ball right into the pond when trying to get it out of the bunker!
As long as you wash your ball regularly, clean scuffs off them, and keep them dry and in a cool spot until your next tee time, you can extend your ball’s life considerably. By keeping the ball in good condition, you can keep using the ball for years, and it still won’t lose yardage!
Tips For Storing Unused Golf Balls To Make Them Last
Obviously you want your unused golf balls to last as long as possible. For that to happen you need to make sure that you are storing your balls in the right place and at the right temperature.
As a general rule, you should try to keep the golf ball from being exposed to direct heat for too long or from being in freezing temperatures. The inner core is usually made out of rubber, which means that the ball expands and contracts with temperature changes.
The optimal temperature for storing golf balls is at room temperature, i.e., 68° to 80° Fahrenheit (21° to 26°C). At this temperature and 0% to 85% humidity, your golf ball can keep its properties for at least 10 years. Other than temperature, there isn’t much that can impact your golf balls’ performance if left unused.
As I mentioned earlier, I found a few golf balls in the corner of our attic, which has stayed in said corner for at least 3 to 4 years, based on our estimates and the dust/cobwebs on top. Even then, the balls were completely fine for use.
Unless the balls are exposed to any extreme conditions, be it temperature, pressure, or abuse, your golf ball should stick with you until you lose it to a pond or the bushes.
With years of mileage on each ball, we recommend you avoid the popular belief that new balls are the best ones or that you have to change them out every few months.