How many of you have played a golf ball for one or two rounds and then stopped using it once it showed a few visible scuff marks? Many golfers (including myself) are quick to discard balls because they assume that the performance has declined once they look a little worn. I decided to put it to the test - how do used golf balls perform versus new ones?
I think the results will surprise you...
Hundreds of Millions of Lost Balls
There is an enormous secondary market for used golf balls. It is estimated that there are as many as 400 million lost golf balls out there, and guys like this risk their lives to recover them.
Many websites sell used golf balls in varying conditions to golfers who are looking to snag a discount. For this test, I was sent 3-dozen Titleist Pro V1 balls in varying condition from the website Two Guys With Balls.
Like many of the other companies, they rate there balls in several categories based on visible wear. Here is the breakdown with estimated costs for a dozen Pro V1s:
- Eagle: Brand new ball that just came out of the sleeve and was only played a few holes - $19.99/dozen
- Birdie: Still in newer condition, but have a visible discoloration or imperfections - $12.99/dozen
- Par: Think of a ball that struck a cart path with visible scuffs and faded logos - $8.99/dozen
Here are some pics of that show you a visual representation. Each of the balls was consistent with the conditions shown on their website:
How Did The Used Balls Perform?
For the test, I took a random selection of the balls sent to me and tested each of them on my launch monitor. I hit full shots with a Sand Wedge, which gives a real indication of how well they can still spin. Then I hit my driver to see if there were any issues with overall spin and distance. All results were compared against a brand new Titleist Pro V1 out of the sleeve.
Here are the results broken down by the ball category:
As you can see the data is almost identical. While I can't strike every golf ball exactly the same, there were no real measurable differences in performance between the used golf balls and the new one. This was a surprise to me. I thought I would see some attrition in the "par" balls that had visible scuff marks.
Think Twice Before You Stop Using That Ball
To me, this test proved a couple of things. If you are playing a premium golf ball like a Pro V1, don't be so quick to discard them if they start showing some visible signs of wear.
Secondly, if you are looking to save some money, purchasing used golf balls can save you some serious money without sacrificing any performance.