How Often Should You Change Your Golf Ball?
Change is a challenge for many of us. Getting rid of something to replace it with something new, especially when you don’t believe it needs changing, can feel wasteful, while for others it can feel refreshing to start again with something new.
Golf equipment is no different. Sure, you might have a club that’s a bit scuffed and damaged, but it still shoots well, so why get rid of it? But also, that new club looks so nice, and apparently it has a fantastic swing, so is it worth upgrading?
This sentimentality, however, is often not given to golf’s other primary piece of equipment; the golf ball.
It is understandable why. Golf balls frequently go missing within the depths of a course, lost to water hazards or dense foliage. It would be more surprising for a player to not lose their ball on an 18-hole round, even, than to play with just one around a whole course.
So, replacing your golf balls is very common. If it doesn’t get lost, eventually it will get dirty and scuffed, and at that point might be worth switching to one that’s shiny and new.
How Often Should Golf Balls Be Replaced?
One source suggested that a ball can last for about seven rounds before there is a drop in performance, with that number likely to drop if the ball encounters obstacles such as trees. However, seven rounds or less is a surprisingly low number, especially for well crafted golf balls designed to last, and with the frequency that balls are lost, it seems like golf balls are something that need replacing very frequently.
However, there have been many instances across golf’s long history to prove this to be false. In 1945, golfer Sam Snead was able to take a single new Spalding Dot golf ball across the entire 72 holes of the Los Angeles Open. And in more recent memory, Alex Chiarella managed a single ball win at the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open in 2019. In both these instances, a single ball was able to make it across, and even win, some of the biggest name tournaments in golf.
While a rarity, it is clear that a ball can survive more than just seven rounds of golf, seeing as how some professional golfers are able to take just one ball through an entire Open.
Therefore, when to replace a golf ball is something more subjective, and should be decided based on the condition of the ball, rather than how long it has been in play for.
Signs of Golf Ball Damage
Research from Hannah Holden suggests balls should be replaced if sustaining a mark the size of a 5p or larger- though suggests these balls can be used for practice, as opposed to retiring them completely.
Others suggest that cut marks appearing on balls is when they should be replaced. Usually occurring as a result of thinned iron shots or or pitch shots, these changes in the balls texture are a good sign of damage, and as a result are best to be retired lest they start causing issues to your game. Clean your golf balls and give them a look over, and if they seem particularly damaged, it is time to move on to another one.
Golf Ball Superstition
The state of a golf ball, for others, is not the determining factor in whether or not their ball is swapped out. For some, superstition comes into play; a belief that balls should be replaced in specific intervals, or after landing certain shots.
This includes beliefs of golf star Ernie Els belief that every ball can only land one birdy and therefore should be swapped out after landing one, whereas Ben Crenshaw will not play a ball marked higher than four for fear it will cause his score to go higher than this, meaning he must be particularly careful about losing or damaging his golf balls.
Regardless as to what you believe, make sure to take good care out of your golf balls, and get as much use out of them as you can.