Golf Ball Lifetime (Do They Go Bad/Expire?)

Golf Ball Lifetime (Do They Go Bad/Expire?)

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The lifecycle of a golf ball can be described as a story of resilience. There’s no doubt about the fact that they can take quite a beating. They can also survive most of the natural settings of golf terrains. 

Some even say that golf balls are an important part of a golfer’s joyous glories as well.

However, after some time has passed, will their time come to an end? 

How long is a golf ball’s lifetime? Do they last forever? Do you need to buy a new one every year or so? Or do they need to be replaced for every game you play?

Well, we did a lot of research to answer these questions. You can use this article to determine if your golf ball has neared its life and needs to be replaced.

Like most things produced by the hands of men, golf balls also expire. The real question is when.

If a golf ball is bought brand new and was in perfect cosmetic shape when it was purchased, it should have a shelf life of about 5 to 7 years before it will expire or be bad even if unused. A golf ball that is being used should last 7 rounds (18 holes) of golf before starting to degrade in performance. 

You can use a golf ball for more than 7 rounds (126 holes) but the performance of the ball could be affected. So if you are playing  a competitive game then you will want to switch to a new golf ball. 

It’s also important to note that if a ball develops scuff marks because of some unfortunate play or overuse, the ball could lose its core integrity before its natural lifetime comes to an end. That means you will need to replace it earlier or face a noticeable difference in how far it goes. 

The Design of the Modern Golf Ball

The golf ball of today passes through various stages of design and engineering, each meticulously overseen. Modern golf balls are a massive step in the evolution of golf balls compared to their predecessors, whose structure relied solely on a single layer of shell. 

Golf balls most enthusiasts and amateurs use have an inner core made of tough rubber. Each ball is layered with a soft core covered with a harder mantle and smooth exterior covers.

These four layers of soft and hard structural materials manage to sustain rigidity and balance after the impact. Similarly, their engineering works wonders for the drive length of the ball, which is a marvel of innovation as this seemed impossible to achieve during the 90s.

Even though this may be the case, golf balls will inevitably lose their structural integrity over time. Any slight change in their exterior structure could dramatically affect your gameplay. 

Yes, golf balls will “expire,” but this could take an incredible amount of time – thanks to their multi-layered core.

Over a certain period of use however, you will begin to notice some scuff marks on your balls. The wear and tear usually happens because of overplay or when the balls hit wedges during pitch shots. 

Such scuff marks tend to downgrade the smooth movements of your ball. When you notice this roughness getting in the way of optimal performance, you should either clean the golf ball or go ahead and replace it.

Can Golf Balls Wear Out?

The only way of knowing that your ball has worn out is the scuffing that, in turn, affects the integrity of the ball’s exterior structure and hence its aerodynamics. Other than this, golf balls are usually robustly engineered, which means they will hide any further evidence of being damaged.

The golf balls of today are manufactured using durable materials and meticulous materials that can withstand even an average swing speed of 125mph! Therefore, such balls could also handle mishits without coming down with extreme signs of apparent deformity. 

Nevertheless, a ball’s exterior will not be as immune to damage upon impact as its interior is supposed to be.

Although golf balls are designed to withstand being hit over and over again eventually they will begin to wear out. Typically you can get 100+ holes out of a golf ball before it will show any signs of wearing out. 

Inside a golf ball, the core is made of durable and sturdy polymer construction. These elements help to deliver a lot more stability as opposed to the rubber and liquid cores that were being used in the past. 

Therefore, the force by which you strike your golf ball doesn’t really matter, and you shouldn’t expect it to change its shape very quickly. 

On the other hand, the cover of a golf ball is made out of ionomer materials, which mostly consist of urethane. The golf ball’s durability and ability to resist cuts and wear & tear will depend mostly on the material used to make its exterior.

The best balls in the industry are made of urethane, which works really well against cuts but performs poorly in terms of scuffing. For instance, the sharp groove made out of iron on your golf club could cause significant damage to the thin cover of your golf ball.

Can Golf Balls Withstand Water?

If you have some golf balls that you found in the water you might be wondering if they are fine to play with. Afterall you don’t want to head out with these balls only to discover that they won’t work very well. 

If a golf ball is hit into the water and then almost immediately taken out then that won’t cause any issues. However, golf balls will start to show signs of damage after a couple of days of being submerged in water. 

Repeatedly driving the golf ball into water and fishing it out is a different thing altogether and will not necessarily damage it. However, being exposed to moisture and water continuously could accelerate certain damages that may be caused by scraping and scuffing on their exterior cover.

Studies have shown that if a golf ball is left to sit in water for too long, its driving distance will drop significantly. Experts say that when a golf ball sits in water for over a day or two it will start to lose its driving distance by 5-to-10 yards. 

This is because of the fact that when water starts to penetrate its molecular structure, it starts to get into its core.

When this happens, a massive imbalance between the ball’s inner layers starts to occur. Simply put, the ball loses most of its elasticity since it loses most of its internal space.

Final Thoughts

With all things considered, what’s a golf ball’s actual lifetime? Or in other words, when should you replace your golf ball? 

According to my research and experience, if you are lucky enough to be playing with a pristine golf ball even after seven 18-hole rounds, it is time to consider swapping it for a brand new one.

If you can’t spot any damages to your golf ball’s cover before using it for seven 18-hole rounds, by all means, keep using it until you reach that mark. If you aren’t super competitive you can even use a golf ball longer than that however it could begin to lose some distance. 

You will also need to make sure your golf ball hasn’t been in contact with water for over 24-hours. If you lost a golf ball in a water hazard and found it a couple of days later than unfortunately you can’t really use it. 

Matt R.

Hello, My name is Matt and I'm the founder of Just Golfin'. This site is all about one thing... GOLFING!

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