Do Golf Balls Go Bad? – The Signs to Look For!

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Golfers want to know if their favorite ball will still feel the same after months of use, or if it will be too worn out and won’t provide the same experience as before. In this article, we discuss what those signs may be so you can find out early on whether or not your favorite golf ball is past its prime!

In general, golf balls do not go bad and you can expect a golf ball to last at least a decade of regular use. An average golfer is far more likely to lose a golf ball through a bad shot than replace it through wear and tear.

Do Golf Balls Degrade Over Time?

A golf ball does not become less effective or has a shorter distance the more it’s used.

The only time a golf ball is likely to be permanently damaged and unusable is if it is exposed to extreme temperatures or through oxidization.

But as golf balls have an ionomer covering surrounding the ball, they are never exposed to the air (oxygen) which is what can degrade synthetic rubber so that just leaves extreme heat.

Polybutadiene is a synthetic rubber that is a common material used in the core of a modern golf ball and only degrades when exposed to high temperatures.

How Long Do Golf Balls Last?

For the average club golfer, a golf ball will last about a year before it starts showing signs of wear and tear.

This will include minor scratches and scuffs which is perfectly normal and part of the natural wear and tear of a golf ball.

The average golfer will hit their golf ball thousands of times in one season – from tee shots and long irons to the short game of chips, lobs, and putting.

A golf ball has to endure quite a lot of punishment.

Thankfully, technology has not only pushed the advancement of ball performance and aerodynamics, but modern production techniques also help with durability that increases the life-cycle of a 2 or 3 piece golf ball.

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Golf ball manufacturers are constantly experimenting with new materials and manufacturing methods to make balls that last longer.

A common way golfers will notice their ball is losing its performance, is by the sound it makes off of a clubface or if they see small dimples in the surface caused by wear on the cover.

Do Scuffs and Scratches Affect Golf Balls?

Minor scuffs on a golf ball will have little impact on performance. But If the scuffs are large enough, it can affect how a golf ball flies the air.

If a ball has too many scuffs, it can affect the aerodynamics of the golf club and cause deviation.

What’s an example size that would be problematic for me?

If you have over 50% of your ball surface is covered in minor scratches or larger scuffs then there could be significant problems with performance.

If you notice that you are not hitting your maximum yardage for your tee shots then try replacing your golf ball with a new one.

How Do I Know if my Golf Ball Needs to Be Replaced?

There are several signs that indicate whether or not you need to replace a golf ball, these include:

  • Look at the dimples on your golf ball – if they’re starting to look flat, it’s time to replace it.
  • Take a close look at how far you can hit the ball with your current golf balls and see if there has been a significant change in distance over time.
  • Keep an eye out for any changes in flight patterns of shots from either side of the tee (left or right) – this would indicate abnormal hooking or slicing.
  • If you find yourself getting frustrated while playing more than usual, that could also indicate it’s time for a new golf ball.
  • Your golf ball becomes hard or difficult to control when you putt, chip, or pitch.
  • The sound of your club striking the ball changes from a crisp “ping” sound to a dull thud sound.
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Can You Use Old Golf Balls?

You can use old golf balls for playing a full round of golf without any adverse reaction. They have a long shelf life and the hard plastic covering helps the ball to withstand lots of use.

You do not need to buy a new golf ball every time you play but if you are worried that your old golf balls are not performing as well as you’d like, then keep your old balls for practice use only.

Store all your used golf balls at home and take them with you to the driving range or practice facility at your local course.

This is not only a good way to re-cycle but will also save you some money on renting out a bucket of practice balls at the range.

By practicing with the same compression rating and brand of golf ball you are ensuring that your game will not be hindered by a lack of familiarity with the ball.

You can always change back to your old golf balls for tournament play if you don’t like how they are performing!

How Do You Make Old Golf Balls Look New?

Golf balls clean up really well and you can follow the below tips to get them looking like new again:

  1. Clean the golf balls with a damp cloth.
  2. Use mild soap and water to clean the ball, but do not submerge it in water.
  3. Rinse well with clear water.
  4. Use a toothbrush or nail brush to scrub any stubborn dirt off of the ball.
  5. Dry thoroughly before using.
  6. Apply a coat of polish or wax over the golf ball for protection from future damage and use.
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What Can You Do with Old Golf Balls You No Longer Use?

If you have old golf balls that are just sitting around, there are a few things that you can do with them.

Donate Used Golf Balls to Charity

Many golfers donate old balls for fundraising purposes, and they are often in great condition since not many rounds of golf have been played with them yet.

You can also contact your local charities or shelters to see if there is a need for the balls you have that need filling.


Even though this ball is made out of rubber, some recycling centers will take these items so that they don’t end up in landfills.

It’s always better to recycle golf balls than throw away something without being sure where it’ll end up next! It may be an old golf ball but we should still do our best to make sure nothing goes to waste.

In the Garden

You can put old golf balls into a garden bed. They work well as plant markers and they won’t take up much space in the ground, since they’re small.

The Deal with Bad Golf Balls…

You now know how long golf balls typically last, and how scuffs affect them.

Thankfully, overall, golf balls do not go bad and are extremely durable which is good news for us amateurs!

If you’re looking to use your old golf ball again, we have detailed some useful things that can be done to bring them back to life and what to do with your old balls that have seen better days!