How Long do Golf Balls Last & When to Toss them Out

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I don’t know a single golfer who gets excited buying golf balls. They are an unnecessary evil in the sport we all love. 

But if you’re like most golfers I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, how long do golf balls last anyway? 

Because let’s face it, dropping $40-$50 (or more sometimes) on a dozen balls is frustrating. I’d much rather spend that money on other golf equipment or food/drinks during the round.

Today, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about golf ball longevity to help you save money but still play great. 

How long do golf balls last for? Do golf balls go bad?

How long can golf balls last?

As you’ll learn today, there are a ton of different factors. But the key is to not lose golf balls in the first place… which is easier said than done. 

Research shows that golf balls can be durable for up to 10 years. 

Yes, that’s right… Most golf ball manufacturers agree that balls can last a decade when stored properly. But there’s a lot more to it like excessive heat or cold.

First, the ball must be kept for more than a few rounds and it must not be hit in the bushes, water or any other hazards. If you are able to keep using the same ball, studies have found that most balls can make it seven full rounds – about 126 holes. 

Click here to find out how to stop golf balls from falling apart.

These are the Key Takeaways

  • Golfers who are pros switch their balls more often than amateurs.
  • You can easily play multiple rounds with the same ball (if you don’t lose it).
  • Golf balls must be kept at the right temperature to prevent them from deteriorating. 
  • Golf balls have an expiry date and can make playing the sport more difficult if they are not used within their intended time. 

Continue reading to find out when to remove balls and learn more about how to switch balls in golf.

How to Get Rid Of Golf Balls

If you are able to keep the ball for 18 holes, then you might be wondering when you should change it. Here are the most important factors to consider.

  • Chipped or cracked balls If your ball is cracked or chipped (which usually happens from a hitting a tree or cart path), it’s time to swap it out. The balls performance will decrease if the cover is damaged. This can affect distance and spin. 
  • Not flying the correct distance If you notice that you’ve seemingly lost distance, it might be time to swap out for a new ball. 
  • The bounce test. If you aren’t sure if your ball needs to be replaced, compare it with a new ball by bouncing it on concrete. If the used balls bounce significantly less, it’s probably time to use a new one. 
  • You’re in a slump. If you’re struggling on the golf course, sometimes a new ball and/or new glove is needed. While there are no physical benefits, it’s a psychological reframe to reset and hopefully leave the bad shots in the past. 

How to Store Golf Balls 

It’s hard to believe it but golf balls can last a decade!

Even though they may last for a decade, you might find them obsolete if your use 10-year-old golf ball. Playing old balls could make the game more difficult, since most golf manufacturers release new lines every year.

But if you’re a recreational vs. an avid golfer and don’t care so much, buying in bulk and storing is a good way to save money. Here are some ways to store them properly so they last longer.

  • Keep golf balls at room temperature. There has been a myth among the golfing population that they’ll last longer if kept in a freezer but this simply is not true. Keep them in a closet or garage, and not in the freezer. Ideally you want to keep them at 70–80 degrees to extend the shelf life and avoid extreme hot temperatures.
  • Rain/humidity are to be avoided It might be better to keep them inside than in the garage if you live in an area where temperatures change rapidly. This will ensure they don’t get impacted by any bad weather conditions. 
  • Always keep golf balls inside. To extend the shelf life of your new golf balls, keep them in their sleeves/boxes. The UV rays can damage the outer layer of golf balls and limit their longevity.

FAQs on Storing Golf Balls (Golf Ball Storage).

Do you have any questions about golf balls in general? Continue reading to discover the most commonly asked questions and answers about golf balls.

Can golf balls stored in the frig?

It’s not a good idea and golf balls go bad in extreme temperatures. Even if you have a brand-new ball that’s sitting in cold temperatures it can impact performance golf ball researchers have found.

Does the condition of golf balls change with age?

It all depends on whether the ball was hit. If you haven’t hit the ball and it’s been stored in optimal conditions (as noted above) they can last up to a decade!

But if you’ve been playing the ball and haven’t lost it, balls do begin to lose performance. This is why range balls don’t fly the same as normal golf balls. They lose their dimples, and the exterior becomes affected which can impact spin and distance. 

What is the best time to switch golf balls?

You can switch out your golf balls during the round. However, you can’t do it in the middle of the hole. Here is the rule of thumb United States Golf Association

“You can always use a new ball when starting a hole. You can also substitute another ball when you take relief, both free or penalty.

Except for the one-ball Local Rule, any brand, model or make can be used as a substitute ball. On the putting green however, when you mark and lift your ball, you must replace that same ball to finish out the hole.”

What is the one ball rule in golf?

The one ball rule requires that you use the same make and model of golf ball for the entire round. This rule is not usually in place for most golf tournaments, but it is more common in professional and high-level amateur events. 

For example, if you begin the round with a Titleist Pro V1ball, you must continue to use the same brand for the entire round. In this example you couldn’t switch to a Pro V1XEven during the round. You’re also able to borrow a ball from a fellow player as well.

Tiger Woods, at the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach, was perhaps the most famous example of a player almost being penalized. Tiger had taken some sleeves out the night before in order to practice putting them back in his hotel room, but forgot to put them in his bag. He switched balls during that round and gave the other to his fans.

He hit his tee shot right in the Pacific Ocean as he stood on the 18th Tee. His caddy pulled out a bag and found the ball. He didn’t mention it to Tiger to avoid putting unnecessary pressure but luckily Tiger hit a perfect next tee shot. 

Tiger might not have won one of his biggest wins otherwise! 

How often do pros switch between golf balls? Are professional golfers required to use a new golf ball on every hole?

Professional golfers often switch between their balls, but not every shot. Otherwise, they’d have to carry six sleeves with them at all times which makes those Tour bags even heavier for the caddies.

Because they are usually able to get unlimited supplies thanks to their sponsors they can switch multiple times per round. If a ball hits a tree, cart path, or gets scuffed, they’ll typically swap it out. 

How often should you change your golf balls?

As an amateur golfer you don’t need to replace them nearly as often as the pros. Since we have to pay about $50 for a dozen, it’s not the most economical thing to do either. I play a lot in tournament golf and will only change my mind if there is a visible scuff from hitting trees or paths.

You can easily play the same ball multiple rounds before it needs to get replaced (assuming you don’t lose it of course). 

Distance does a used golf ball lose?

Used golf balls can lose driving distance depending on how old they are and how many times they’ve been hit.

This is one of the reasons that range balls typically don’t travel as far as a brand-new golf ball. They can be hit hundreds to even thousands of times, which can cause dimple wear and eventually impact performance. 

Find out more about how used golf ball performs.

What can you do with old golf ball?

A lot of times you might need to switch out balls but don’t want to throw away old ones that still perform okay. If the ball isn’t cracked, it’s a good idea to keep a shag bag for practice. This will ensure that you practice with the exact same ball as you play golf. 

For example, it’s better for chipping practice to use the same Pro V1This is the ball that is used on the course, and not an old driving range ball. I like to mark my shag bag practice balls so they’re easy to spot in case others are using the chipping green too. This will improve your practice sessions and help you to learn how well your ball spins so that you can get better results on course. 

How many golf balls can you hit? 

About seven rounds of golf – which is 126 holes (roughly).

It all depends on how often you hit, what clubs you use and swing speed. Also, it can depend on whether the ball hits trees/cart tracks, and other factors. If you want to continue using them, use a magic eraser brush.


Is it OK to keep golf balls in the garage? 

It all depends on where you live and what the average temperature is. Golf balls last the longest when stored between 70–80 degrees, which isn’t the temperature of most garages in the winter. It’s a better idea to keep them in a closet inside your house that is in that temperature range. 

Are 20-year-old golf clubs any good? 

No, it’s best to toss those golf balls in the trash. Golf balls can be stored properly and can last for up to a decade. 20 years is too long. Even if the golf balls are still good after a decade they’re likely obsolete in terms of technology. 

What are the best golf balls for you?

Today’s Titleist golf balls are some of the best golfing equipment out there. The modern Titleist golf ball is used by a lot of amateur and professional golfers. Click here for the best golf balls to match you game.

Final Thoughts 

If stored in the right conditions, unused golf balls can last for almost a decade. While a used golf ball can last about seven rounds of golf… assuming you don’t accidentally donate it to the lake or other hazard. 

If you store your golf balls for the long term, ensure that they are kept in the right place so they dont deteriorate. Otherwise, make sure to switch balls on a regular basis so you don’t lose out on distance or spin. 

Rules wise, make sure you don’t switch balls in the middle of a hole and wait until it’s complete. Also, if the ball contains a chip, you must throw it away and switch balls after the hole is completed. To avoid a Tiger-like situation during competition, always verify that the tournament has a one-ball rule.  

One Response

  1. Great job on this article! Its both informative and engaging. Im curious about your thoughts. Click on my nickname for more discussions!

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