Given that new golf balls from the best brands cost around $50 per dozen, it’s no surprise that many recreational golfers look elsewhere for value.
One option is to buy new balls from lesser-known brands, or you may even buy a collection of used balls from online golf stores.
Another tactic is to buy lake golf balls, which are often available for a fraction of the cost of new and other used balls. But what’s the deal with lake balls? Are they any good? And do they lose distance?
Below, we take you through everything we know about lake golf balls to help you decide if they’re a good option for you.
What are Lake Golf Balls?
Lake golf balls are those that have been submerged in water hazards on golf courses. When you play on a golf course with lots of lakes or hazards, it’s common for one (or several) of your balls to find the water, in spite of your best efforts.
After a few weeks or months, golf course managers employ a diver to head into the lake to retrieve the balls that sit at the bottom of the water hazard. After several hours of collecting, the diver will emerge with hundreds, if not thousands, of golf balls in a net.
Once retrieved, the balls are checked for damage and cleaned, before being packaged and sold, either in the clubhouse or online. Some lake balls were brand new when they entered the water hazard, while others were old and used.
Therefore, when you purchase lake golf balls, you need to be prepared for the fact that you will probably receive a mixed bag!
Some clubs and online retailers sell lake balls for as little as $1 per ball, so it presents a huge saving if you’re looking to reduce the amount of money you spend on golf equipment.
Do Lake Golf Balls Make a Difference?
For recreational golfers, the main difference that lake balls make is on your bank balance. While you will have to fork out between $40-$50 for a brand-new pack of twelve golf balls from Titleist, you could, theoretically, pick up twelve lake balls from the same brand for half the cost.
If you find yourself losing a few golf balls every round, buying lake balls is a great way to save yourself some money. However, lake balls might also make a difference as far as distance is concerned.
Depending on the quality of the lake balls that you buy, you might find that the core of the ball has become waterlogged. This is particularly the case if the golf ball has surface scratches and has been sitting in the water hazard for an extended period of time.
Waterlogged lake balls will cost you as much as 10-20 yards in distance, and aren’t suitable for use out on the course.
In other words, lake balls that aren’t in great shape should be used exclusively out on the practice range, as you don’t want to compromise distance.
What are ‘grade A’ Lake Balls?
Grade A lake balls are among the best that you can order. In most instances, if a lake ball is described as Grade A, it means it was new when it first entered the water hazard. However, not every company grades lake balls in the same way.
For instance, LakeBalls.com has four categories for grading their balls: Pearl, Grade A, Grade B, and Practice. Pearl lake balls are those that are completely free from blemishes, and they’re pristine.
Grade A is almost as good, but with pen marks or small scuffs that indicate the balls were used once or twice before entering the water.
Grade B balls are ideally suited for recreational rounds and may have some discoloration and various blemishes, while practice balls have been around the block and are only really suitable for use on the range.
So, the grading system of lake balls is really useful for helping you decide which quality of balls to buy.
Most golfers have a mixture of balls and keep some in the bag and others in the locker reserved exclusively for practicing.
Are Lake Golf Balls OK to Play With?
Lake balls are perfect for recreational golfers and are an excellent way of saving money. As mentioned above, it’s worth checking the grade of lake balls that you buy to ensure your golf balls are suitable for your intended use.
For instance, if you buy top-rated lake balls that are like new, there’s really not a great deal of difference between their brand-new equivalent.
You will find that lake balls from the likes of Bridgestone and Titleist are available for a fraction of the price of new balls and will allow you to stock up on your collection.
However, if you fill your golf bag with lower-grade lake balls, you can’t reasonably expect them to perform like new balls. They’re likely to be scratched and may even be waterlogged, which will cost you some distance out on the course.
With this in mind, it’s best to separate your lake balls into those you can use on the course and those that need to be used on the range. If you take this step, you should have absolutely no issues when playing with lake balls.
What is Wrong with Lake Golf Balls?
The biggest main fault with lake balls is if they have been submerged in a hazard for a long time and are waterlogged. While it’s not always easy to tell how long a ball has been underwater, the grading system is the best guide for you to use.
Underneath the urethane cover of golf balls are several layers that comprise the core. If water seeps through the cover and penetrates the core of the golf ball, it will affect its performance.
You will find that the golf ball doesn’t go anywhere near as far, and it may be much more difficult to spin and control the ball in your approach play.
As such, one of the most important things to look for when you’re buying golf balls is the integrity of the golf ball cover. If there are several scratches or blemishes on a lake ball, it’s a sign that it might be waterlogged.
These balls will be OK for the range, but it’s best not to use waterlogged balls out on the course. After all, compromising distance and spin control will significantly affect your card, so make sure you select your lake balls accordingly before heading out onto the course.
Do Lake Golf Balls Lose Distance?
Lake balls that have been waterlogged will lose up to twenty yards in distance. When you think about course management, this is considerable, so it’s important not to use such lake balls out on the course.
However, lake balls that are in excellent condition and have been graded as such will perform just like any other golf ball. In other words, you won’t notice any difference between a top-graded lake ball and a brand-new golf ball fresh out of its packaging.
As we’ve alluded to throughout, the most important thing to remember when buying lake balls is that not all balls that are plucked from water hazards are equal.
This is why the grading system is so important, which you need to use as your guide when you’re choosing which golf balls to buy.
To ensure the lake balls that you carry in your bag go the full distance, always check their grade before buying them, and check the cover for any scratches or blemishes.
If you’re worried that a lake ball isn’t in great shape, it’s best to add it to your practice bag, so you don’t lose distance when you’re playing a round.
Are Lake Golf Balls Worth Buying?
The key takeaway is that lake balls are definitely worth buying. You can pick up practice lake balls for as little as $1 per ball, which is excellent value and will allow you to practice and help perfect your game out on the range.
From our research, we’ve found that you can buy 24 pristine lake balls for a similar price of 12 brand-new golf balls of a similar brand. So, for instance, 24 Titleist Pro V1 lake balls retail around the $40-$45 mark, while 12 brand-new Pro V1s go for around $50.
As you can see, providing you buy the right grade and ensure your lake balls are in good shape, you can save a lot of money when it comes to buying golf balls.
If you’re not particularly fussy about the brand and are happy to use any make of golf ball while you’re playing with your buddies, opt for a mixed bag of balls, as you can find even better value from online retailers.
If you’re looking for an easy way to save money when it comes to buying golf equipment, switching to lake golf balls is a great change to make.
Thanks to the handy grading system employed by most online retailers, you can order balls to suit your game and budget without getting any surprises!
Lake balls are perfect for all recreational golfers and are undoubtedly worth your consideration.
Just make sure you check the condition of the balls before you order them and separate them for use on the range and on the course accordingly when they arrive.