Do Golf Balls Go Bad? 

Do Golf Balls Go Bad?

Do golf balls go bad?

This question may have crossed your mind if you’re lucky enough to have played golf using the same ball for more than one round.

The answer lies in understanding the process of golf ball deterioration and recognizing the signs of wear and tear.

In this post, we’ll explain the factors that impact deterioration, such as storage conditions, use practices, and ball structure. We’ll also provide insights on choosing the right type of golf balls for your specific needs.


Process of  Golf Ball Deterioration

Golf ball longevity is influenced by their materials and construction.

The modern golf ball is made of various components, such as a rubber core, urethane or Surlyn covers, and dimple patterns that affect performance.

Over time, these materials can break down due to environmental factors like excessive heat, and moisture or physical wear from regular use.


Aging Factors for Different Types of Golf Balls

  • Two-piece golf balls: These have a solid core with an outer cover made of Surlyn or similar material. They tend to be more durable but may lose some performance characteristics over time.
  • Premium golf balls: Often featuring multi-layer construction with softer urethane covers, these offer better feel and control but may deteriorate faster than two-piece options.


To ensure optimal performance on the course, consider storing golf balls in a cool, dry place, avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures or moisture.

Golf ball researchers suggest unused golf balls can last up to seven years, while golf ball manufacturers recommend replacing them every two to five years, depending on usage and storage conditions.

Another factor to consider is surface damage. If your golf ball has scratches, cuts, or scuffs on the cover, it can affect its aerodynamics and performance.

Keeping your golf club and clubface clean can help prevent damage to the ball cover during play. That said, if your ball hits a tree or a rock, you may want to consider replacing your ball, and the ball’s integrity may be compromised.

While golf balls do not necessarily “go bad,” they can deteriorate over a long time or due to environmental factors.


Identifying Signs of a Worn-Out Golf Ball

Signs of deterioration

Look for physical and performance indicators to determine if your golf balls are past their prime. Some common signs include:

  • Surface damage: Scratches, cuts, or scuffs on the ball cover can affect its aerodynamics and overall performance.
  • Bounce test: A worn-out golf ball may not bounce as high as it should when dropped from shoulder height onto a hard surface.
  • Inconsistent flight: If you notice erratic ball flights even with a clean clubface, it could be due to an old or damaged golf ball.\


Analyze Your Golf Ball Usage Habits

Ball in rocks

Evaluating your playing style and how often you regularly use your golf balls can help determine when to replace them. Consider the following factors:

  • Frequency of play: Weekend golfers may not need to change their golf balls as frequently as those who play daily.
  • Type of golf course: Playing on courses with rough terrain or hazards can cause more surface damage to your golf ball covers, shortening their lifespan.
  • Cleaning habits: Keeping your clubface clean during a round will minimize the impact on the ball’s core and extend its life.


Considering the impacts of terrain and hazards, wise decisions can be made about updating golfing equipment and gear to maximize performance.


Choose the Right Golf Balls for Your Game

Which Ball is Right For You?

Selecting golf balls designed to meet your specific needs and preferences is an important part of improving your game. Different manufacturers offer various designs of golf balls, such as two-piece and urethane models, each with their own benefits.

  • Two-Piece Golf Balls: These are ideal for beginners and players with slower swing speeds, as they provide more distance and durability due to their solid core and durable cover.
  • Urethane Golf Balls: Recommended for advanced players who prioritize control over distance; these premium golf balls have a softer feel on the clubface thanks to their thin urethane covers.


When selecting the right golf ball, consider your swing speed, expertise level, and budget to make a wise choice.


FAQ: Do Golf Balls Go Bad?

Can frequent water submersion lead to a golf ball going bad?

Absolutely! Prolonged submersion in water, especially in ponds or lakes on golf courses, can cause the golf ball’s cover to weaken and become more susceptible to damage.

The water might seep into the ball’s core, affecting its internal structure and overall performance. Although a brief dip in a water hazard won’t ruin a golf ball, repeated or extended exposure can eventually degrade its performance.

It’s best to avoid using golf balls that have spent too much time underwater…or better yet, stop hitting into the water!


Do golf balls lose their color or sheen over time?

Yes, they do. Although modern golf balls are designed with durable materials and finishes, they may still lose their color or sheen over time, particularly with frequent play.

This cosmetic change won’t affect the ball’s performance but might make it more challenging to spot on the golf course. If you’re concerned about visibility, consider using high-visibility or neon-colored golf balls that are easier to see, even if they’ve lost a bit of their original luster.


Do the dimples on a golf ball wear down, affecting performance?

Over time and with extensive use, the dimples on a golf ball may wear down, become shallower, or even suffer damage.

Dimples play a critical role in the ball’s aerodynamics, as they create turbulence in the air surrounding the ball, reducing drag and allowing it to travel farther and more accurately. A worn or damaged golf ball with compromised dimples may not fly as efficiently, leading to decreased distance and accuracy.

If you notice that the dimples on your golf balls are showing significant wear, it’s time to replace them.


Can I still use old or discolored golf balls for practice?

While discolored or used golf balls may not perform at their peak, they can still be useful for practice sessions, especially for chipping and putting.

Remember that their flight characteristics may not entirely represent a new golf ball’s performance, so it’s a good idea to practice with newer balls when working on your full swing.

Mixing the old golf balls and new golf balls during practice can help you identify any differences in feel and performance, allowing you to adjust as needed.


Do different brands of golf balls have different lifespans?

The lifespan of a golf ball may vary between brands due to differences in materials, construction, and overall quality. For example, some premium brands may use higher-quality materials and manufacturing processes, resulting in a more durable and longer-lasting golf ball.

However, proper storage and care to store golf balls can help prolong the life of any golf ball, regardless of the brand. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your golf balls, pay attention to their performance and replace them when you notice any signs of wear or degradation.


Do refurbished or recycled golf balls have a shorter lifespan than new ones?

Refurbished or recycled golf balls may have a slightly shorter lifespan than new ones, as they have already experienced some wear and tear.

During the refurbishment process, the golf balls are cleaned and, in some cases, have their outer layer repaired or repainted. While this can restore some of the ball’s original performance, it may not be as durable or consistent as a brand-new ball.

However, refurbished or recycled golf balls can still be a cost-effective option for practice or casual play golf with, especially if you want to save money without sacrificing too much performance.


Wrapping It Up – Do Golf Balls Go Bad?

You now understand what’s behind golf ball deterioration and how to identify signs of a worn-out golf ball.

While golf balls do not necessarily go bad or have a shelf life, they can lose their performance over time or with excessive use and you should consider using a new golf ball. However, by taking the appropriate steps, you can maintain your golf balls in peak condition for longer.

We hope you found this article Do Golf Balls Go Bad? helpful. If you’re a avid golfer like us, subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest tips, reviews, and other golf lessons and guides from Humble Golfer. Plus, you’ll be automatically signed up for our free monthly giveaway!

Picture of Amir


Amir is a passionate weekend golfer with a love for the sport. He's always testing out new gear and exploring new courses, while also constantly learning and improving his game. As a true student of the sport, he's dedicated to sharing his knowledge and experiences with other golf enthusiasts.

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