How Often Should You Change Golf Balls

How Often Should You Change Golf Balls?

Both new and experienced golfers alike might ask how often should you change golf balls. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule, it really comes down to personal preference.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you might want to change your golf ball.

Reasons To Change The Golf Ball

Although modern balls are much more durable than the balata balls from a few years ago they are still not going to last forever. Here are a few reasons why you might want to swap your ball in play:

The cover shows signs of wear and tear such as scuff marks.

Depending on the standard of golf you play you might feel that even a relatively small amount of damage to the cover of the ball will be noticeable in its performance.

A professional gets their balls for free so can swap balls at the drop of a hat. Those of us that have to pay our own way are likely to be more pragmatic.

Someone playing a bounce game with friends is less likely to change their ball than someone playing in an important competition for example.

The ball has been cut.

Significant damage to the ball after a collision with a hard surface might result in a deep cut into the surface and inner section of the ball. You might manage to do it with a thinned shot!

Damage of this level will definitely affect performance and no matter what your standard this ball should be binned.

The ball is out of round.

I can’t recall having a ball that has gone out of shape during the time I’ve played but if you did have a ball like that then you wouldn’t want to use that ball.

You want to play a different type of ball.

Assuming you aren’t playing in an elite competition where the one-ball rule is in effect you can change the type of ball on each hole if you desire. Switching to a softer ball on a downwind hole and a firmer distance ball on and into the wind hole for example.

You’d like to play with a different color ball.

You may decide that weather conditions or the quality of light dictate that you play with a different color ball. As I’ve gotten older I’ve certainly noticed it become increasingly difficult to spot a white ball in flight.


Professional players on the PGA Tour might prefer to change a ball once they’ve made a birdie or eagle with it as they think each ball only has one good hole to play. Gary Woodland likes to change after every bogey (or worse).

Do Scuffs And Scratches Affect Golf Balls?

Scuffs and scratches can and do affect balls. Scuffs and scrapes on the surface of the ball are usually caused by hitting it with a golf club. Hitting a hard surface like a path or a tree can also damage the cover of the ball. The club might leave marks on the ball, which can then affect its flight. Even my modest swing speed has managed to take small chunks of the cover off when I have had new grooves on a wedge.

Marks bigger than a dime should usually mean you retire the ball according to Titleist.

A scratch or cut is a more serious type of damage that goes deeper into the ball’s surface. This will certainly affect the ball’s flight and performance.

Some poor quality balls tend to mark more easily than others affecting their value for money.

How Many Balls Should I Carry In My Bag?

The number of balls you carry in your bag is a matter of personal preference, most players probably carry between half a dozen and a dozen balls. If you’re just starting out and losing quite a few, you may want to carry more balls in your bag so you don’t run out partway through! On a really tough and demanding golf course, even good players can lose multiple balls. Water hazards in particular can gobble up lots of ammo!

How Long Do Professionals Use a Golf Ball For?

Some professionals might put a different ball in play on every tee! Of course, that’s a lot easier when you’re getting them for free. To an extent, it depends on how well they are playing. If they are spraying the ball or over the golf course hitting trees and cart paths then they are likely to use a new one on the next tee.

How Often Should I Replace My Golf Ball?

I would suggest that most golfers aren’t able to avoid losing a ball long enough to need to worry about changing out a damaged ball. Assuming you are hitting fairways and greens rather than bunkers, trees and course furniture then your ball will probably be good to go for many, many holes.

I always liked using new balls during competitive play and any that I didn’t lose were then saved for casual golf.

How Many Rounds Of Golf Can You Play With A Golf Ball?

Ball manufacturers have received photos of their balls from customers who use them for 120 holes without any great damage. As long as you are striking the ball correctly and keeping the ball on grass you should be able to play as many as 10 rounds of golf before thinking about putting another ball to play.

Keeping your golf ball clean will also help it to perform at its best.

Can I Change Golf Balls On Every Hole?

Yes, you can change balls on every hole if you want to. Some golfers do, especially if they’re using a different type of golf ball for different situations. For example, in social golf, they might use a distance ball on the tee and then switch to a softer ball for approach shots and putts. Obviously, you wouldn’t be out to do that in a competition or a round for handicap purposes.

Ultimately, it’s up to the golfer to decide how many balls they want to carry and how often they want to change.

Do High Swing Speed Players Need To Change Balls More Often?

I can’t find any evidence that suggests players with a high clubhead speed will cause more damage to their balls. Given that tour professionals generally have amongst the highest clubhead speed you would be quite likely to hear about it in the golfing press.

Do New Golf Balls Go Further Than Old Ones?

Most modern golf balls are made with distance in mind and so they are likely to go further than old balls. As technology improves the materials used in construction and the aerodynamic modeling during the design process means that a new ball will almost certainly go farther than an old one.

Is It OK To Use Old Golf Balls?

Primarily comes down to your preferences and standards. A low handicapper is unlikely to want to use inferior equipment since it will hinder their performance. On the other hand, high handicappers and beginners probably wouldn’t notice that much difference between a used ball that was in reasonable condition and one straight out of the box.

Balls do have a shelf life but for modern solid construction balls that could be as long as 10 years so it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about ‘old’ balls being a problem.

I’m not suggesting that a 28 handicapper should start using any old rubbish they find on the course but it’s unlikely they will notice the difference between taking a premium ball out of a sleeve or picking up some Pro V1 lake balls.

How Often Should You Change Golf Balls: Conclusion

Like a lot of things in golf its largely down to your individual decision. Do you mind playing with a slightly scuffed ball? If not then go ahead. If you prefer a ball in prisitne condition that’s fine too but it will cost you!

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