How Long Do Golf Balls Last

How Long Do Golf Balls Last

Many products that you buy today have an expiration date printed on them. Have you ever wondered if your golf balls are still good for play after sitting in your garage for a few years? The humble golf ball is one of the most important pieces of golf equipment since you need it for every shot!

Let’s try to answer the question how long do golf balls last?

Do Unused Balls Expire?

Golf balls are designed to withstand a lot of wear and tear, but they aren’t indestructible. In fact, even modern golf balls have a shelf life and their performance will eventually start to degrade even if they’re not used.

Brand new golf balls may last for several years if they’re stored properly. However, new balls that are exposed to extreme temperatures, humidity or direct sunlight can start to degrade more quickly.

Older balls can still be used of course, but you may notice a drop in performance. Generally speaking an old ball will lose distance compared to the same model brand-new.

So, do golf balls have a shelf life? Yes, unused balls will degrade eventually. But with proper storage, the shelf life of a golf ball could be as long as 5 or 10 years after it left the factory. This is a significant improvement over older three-piece wound balls which might start to degrade after as little as two years.

You should also remember that golf ball manufacturers are always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible so by using a ball that is 5 or 10 years old you may be giving up some performance even if the ball hasn’t degraded.

The other thing to ask yourself is your golf game good enough that you will notice the difference?

If you have a slow swing speed then even a ball that has lost 1-2% is hardly going to be noticeable on your 200-yard drives and 80-yard wedge shots.

In the video below Mark Crossfield compares a new Srixon with a ‘new’ Dunlop 65 which looks to be 40 years old at least.

Mark Crossfield compares modern and old ball

Do Golf Balls Get Old And Wear Out?

A common question among golfers is “Do golf balls wear out and get old?”. Well, the answer is yes, golf balls do wear out and get too old. Even if you aren’t using them!

The ionomer and urethane covers of balls can be damaged by UV radiation if they are stored in direct sunlight for prolonged periods. Keeping your balls at low temperatures or too high temperatures won’t do them much good either. To maximize their lifespan keep them at room temperature whenever possible.

During use, the cover of the ball can be damaged in several ways. The club may cause some damage when it strikes the ball. You may hit a tree or a cart path. The ball may have to be played out of a bunker.

All of these and more can and will damage the cover of the ball. Eventually, the damage will become so great it will start to affect the performance of the ball.

Can Golf Balls Get Waterlogged?

The jury is out on this question to some extent I’m afraid. Some studies have shown that balls can be affected with even a few hours of immersion in water while others seem to indicate that it will take many months for the ball’s performance to be affected.

The general consensus seems to be that if brand-new balls are placed in water it will take a long time for the water to have any significant effect. Presumably, you’re not planning on storing your golf balls in water so it’s only really a question if you’re thinking of buying lake balls.

A study by Harvard Professor, Gordon McKay does suggest that golf balls left underwater will take water on board and it will not be easily removed afterward.

The water will manage to work its way into the core and compromise the Coefficient of Restitution (COR) this would likely have a direct impact on the distance the ball will travel. The higher the temperature of the water the more will be absorbed.

According to the study the ball might be affected after as little as 12 hours of immersion. Considering this guy’s credentials I think I might avoid using lake balls for serious rounds of golf.

This makes me think I might not want to leave golf balls soaking too long when cleaning them!

Do Golf Balls Lose Distance As They Age?

It’s a question that many golfers ask, especially if they’ve just found a couple of dozen old balls in the back of their garage. The simple answer is yes, old golf balls may have lost some distance. If they are wound balls (Titleist Professional for example) then they will have lost around 1% of their initial velocity according to Frank Thomas. More modern solid construction balls are unlikely to have degraded much for up to 10 years.

What Can You Do With Old Golf Balls?

What can you do with golf balls you no longer use? If you’re a golfer, you know that eventually every golf ball gets too old and worn out to be used anymore unless you lose it first! But what do you do with all those old golf balls? Here are a few ideas.

One option is to donate them to a local golf club junior section. I’m sure they would appreciate some balls particularly if you have some unused balls that have been sitting on a shelf for a while!

Another option is to sell them online. Sites like eBay and Craigslist are full of people looking for used golf balls. If you have a sufficient quantity to make it worth your while then you could list them for sale.

How To Prolong The Life Of Golf Balls

To make unused (and used) golf balls last, avoid extremes. Golf ball researchers at Titleist say that if you store your golf balls in the freezer, they may become too hard and lose some of their resiliency. On the other hand, if you leave them out in the hot sun, they may become too soft and won’t perform as well. The best way to keep your golf balls in good condition is to keep them in a cool, dry place.

To be honest I’ve never heard it suggested that balls stored in a freezer were a good idea!

How Long Do Golf Balls Last: Conclusion

So a golf ball can last up to 10 years if stored properly. Try not to leave your golf equipment in extreme temperatures or humidity and your brand new balls should last you long enough for you to lose them on the golf course!

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