Should I Use Used Golf Balls as a High Handicapper?

If you’re a high handicap golfer, the short answer is yes.

Every golf player knows that golf is an expensive sport. Equipment such as golf clubs, golf bags, and golf balls can add up to a considerable expense. As a high handicapper, it can be even more expensive due to the loss of balls after each round of play. For most players, buying golf balls happens quite often, as opposed to buying new equipment which usually takes years of saving and deliberation.

For these reasons, players have been turning to used golf balls as a way to save money while still enjoying their rounds of golf. But what can you expect when using a used golf ball? Is it going to perform the same as a new one? Keep reading to find out.

The Expense of New Golf Balls

Today, on average, a new golf ball can cost up to $30 to $40 per ball. Depending on the brand and quality, this cost can be even higher. For those looking for a ball that has more distance or spin, the price will go up as well.

Even those who just want to start golf as a hobby and have no interest in joining a professional league will still have to spend a considerable amount of money for a good quality golf ball. Not to mention the cost of equipment that is continuously rising thanks to the increasing popularity of the sport.

If you are a high handicapper who tends to lose a ball or two during each round of play, the cost of these new golf balls can really add up. If this is the case for you, getting a new golf ball every time you lose one can become a costly expense.

Are There Any Differences Between the Tour Quality of a Used Golf Ball and a New One?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. While there are differences in the performance of a used golf ball compared to a new one, it will actually depend on how you use them. Generally, cheaper golf balls tend to be less durable than their more expensive counterparts. Thus, when played with, they can lose their performance faster.

That said, a used golf ball will not always be less effective than a new one. Depending on the condition and brand of the golf ball, it can still perform just as well or even better than a new one. But, it is also important to consider that there are specific balls such as multi-layer, urethane-covered balls, that really bring an advantage compared to old ones. This kind of ball provides more backspin, better feel and control, and more distance.

What to Expect When Using Used Golf Balls

Now, you choose to opt for used balls and wonder what to expect. Let’s divide this section into two main points: look and feel, and performance.

Look and Feel of a Used Ball

Used balls are characterized by having marks, scratches, and nicks on their surface. This is due to the fact that most used balls come from golfers who have hit them a couple of times before disposing of them.

In the market, they are labeled or graded as:

  • Mint: This is where the ball looks like new and there are no obvious signs of use. This is a great option for those who are meticulous but want to save a couple of bucks.
  • Near Mint: This grade is for balls that have very minor scuffs but no denting or chipping. Perfect for high handicappers who just want to play a few rounds without having to worry about losing a new ball.
  • Good: These golf balls come with obvious signs of use but are still playable. Usually, these balls have scuff marks and/or minor nicks and no chips or dents.
  • Value: Probably the lowest grade you can find, these balls usually have deep scratches and obvious signs of use. They’re perfect for those who want to practice their shots but don’t want to worry about losing the ball.

In some cases, you may find used balls that are classified as AAAA, AAA, AA, etc. This is an indication of the condition of the ball, AAA being of better quality than AA, and so on. If you are someone who is very particular, then you may want to go for a better grade.


For a direct answer for whether the performance of a used golf ball is on par with a new one, the answer is yes. They may have a slight difference in performance but the gap is not as large as some golfers believe. Used golf balls often have plenty of life left in them and can often provide you with a great experience when playing.

In terms of spin, a used ball will usually perform slightly worse than a new one as the cover starts to wear out. While this is not an issue if you are just playing for fun, some golfers may take this into consideration before shopping for golf balls.

How Long Does a Golf Ball Usually Last?

There are some cases where players that have left golfing for a while still have unused golf balls in their bags that are still usable. Generally, the lifespan of a golf ball really depends on how frequently you play and what kind of conditions you’re playing in. In general, if a golf ball remains unused from the day of purchase, it can last for about 10 years given proper storage and care.

On the other hand, if you play frequently, then a ball will not last as long. The lifespan of a golf ball is influenced by many factors including the roughness of the course, club head speed, spin rate, and environmental factors.

Given all these factors, it is fair to say that a golf ball can last anywhere from a few rounds up to a year before you will have to replace them with a new one.

Do the Quality of Golf Balls Deteriorate When Submerged Under Water For Too Long?

Many golfers tend to lose their balls in the water and not bother to retrieve them. But some might want to and still use them afterward. In terms of performance, submerging the ball in water for too long can cause its cover to crack or tear apart, thus losing its compression and spin rate.

For new golf balls that happen to submerge in water, given they don’t have cracks or scratches that can cause air to escape, they should be okay to use again and can easily last under the water for weeks or even months without any significant damage.

On the other hand, used golf balls that are submerged in water for too long may not last due to their already worn-out cover and being more prone to cracking or tearing apart. Thus, retrieving worn-out balls from the water is usually not recommended.

Where to Buy Used Golf Balls

Compared to decades ago, golfers now can easily purchase used golf balls at budget prices. Many companies now sell used golf balls in bulk and these tend to be of better quality than what you may find when searching through water hazards.

Amazon, for example, has hundreds of different used golf balls or recycled golf balls that you can purchase (this is where I buy mine). The wide variety also ensures that you get a ball type and condition that is suited to your play style and preference.

Prices may vary depending on the quality and brand but they are usually cheaper than buying a new ball. You can even find a dollar or less than a dollar for each piece if you look hard enough.

For other options, you can check out Lost Golf Balls, Rock Bottom Golf, Golf Ball Planet, and other websites that specialize in selling used golf balls.

The Bottom Line

While there is no existing rule for a golf player to use a brand new golf ball every game, it is still better to check the quality of used golf balls before you use them. In terms of performance, a used ball can still provide you with a great experience when playing as long as they’re in good condition.

If you’re trying to save some money, then opting for used golf balls is a great option. With the availability of online stores, you can easily purchase them and have them delivered right to your doorstep.

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