Do Golf Balls Get Waterlogged? We Explore The Results Of Leaving A Golf Ball In Water

Golf balls are water-resistant but not necessarily waterproof. Can golf balls get waterlogged?

Of course, they can handle being scrubbed in the classic “up-and-down” ball washer that adorns many golf courses worldwide, but if left long enough, water always finds a way to do some damage. 

Since golf is hard enough, we want to stabilize as many variables as possible to increase our consistency and break our personal best score. Having the proper golf ball for your game is one thing, but ensuring it’s in a healthy state and ready to perform is quite another

This can be hard to identify if you’re a beginner, so I included a special section below outlining how you can avoid this like a pro.

More experienced golfers will benefit from the section on what to do with waterlogged balls as we try to save the environment and reduce our effect on the ecosystem. 

In this article, we will cover:

  • Do Golf Balls Get Waterlogged And Affect Your Shot?
  • Golf Ball In Water: 4 Reasons You Should Avoid Waterlogged Golf Balls
  • 6 Ways To Identify Waterlogged Golf Balls
  • Understanding The Environmental Effects
  • Pitfalls Of Refurbished Golf Balls
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Wrap-Up: Do Golf Balls Get Waterlogged?

Let’s get into it!

A golf balls floats in water with the words do golf balls get waterlogged in the foreground.

Do Golf Balls Get Waterlogged And Affect Your Shot?

So, can golf balls get waterlogged?

Yes, golf balls get waterlogged, which can affect your shot and the performance of your ball. Golf balls are scientifically engineered to the smallest weight, size, and aerodynamic increments.

If even the slightest amount of water breaches the cover, experienced golfers will notice a difference in their trajectory. 

Golf ball in water: 4 Reasons You Should Avoid Waterlogged Golf Balls

Here are four, clear-cut reasons to avoid waterlogged golf balls:

  1. It shortens the distance on all shots, especially the driver.
  2. Negatively affects the trajectory and shot-shaping control.
  3. Will deviate from intended target line with putts.
  4. Inconsistent in all aspects, which contributes to higher scores.
A white golf ball bounces into blue water, making a splash.

6 ways To Identify Waterlogged Golf Balls

#1: Colour

Golf balls should be shiny and shimmering. They should sparkle in the sunlight like diamonds in the rough (pun intended). Waterlogged balls will be off-white or even slightly green, depending on the type of water they have been living in. 

#2: Weight

This may be hard to tell without a scale, but if you handle a brand-new ball and a waterlogged ball, you should be able to tell a slight difference. The water absorbed will stay trapped within the ball and make it harder for you to gain distance. 

#3: Sound

When you make contact with a waterlogged golf ball, the sound will be much less powerful.

The water prevents compression and softens the impact, so you end up with a muted and uninspired sound. The feel will also mimic this and leave you with a heavy feeling.

#4: Distance

This is apparent right off the bat.

Your ball will seem to drop out of the sky when struck with anything longer than a mid-iron. Your short irons will not climb to the heights you’re accustomed to and, therefore, come up short on every shot.

This is the best indicator for beginners as golf ball distance is the most familiar stat when first starting out.

A golfer stands on a green golf course taking a swing at a golf ball.

#5: Flight

Slightly waterlogged golf balls are more challenging to identify for beginners.

You may be caught trying to solve a problem that is not caused by you at all. If water builds up on one side of the ball, gravity will pull harder on that side and cause it to veer offline on a predominant path.

More experienced golfers will be able to tell the difference between their swing and the ball’s reaction, good or bad. 

#6: Shape

In the worst-case scenario, a golf ball in water has been submerged so long that its physical shape has altered.

Pinched under a rock or simply laying on one side for an obscene amount of time will give the ball an oblong shape that not even the best new paint job could hide.

If you’re unsure about shape, roll your ball on a perfectly flat tabletop; a large mirror laid down works best. Then, just roll the ball and see if it veers offline. 

A large pile of different coloured, used golf balls.

Pitfalls Of Refurbished Golf Balls

If you’re new to the game, you might still be in shock about how much golf costs to play. It’s jarring at first, but there are ways to save when you’re new, but refurbished golf balls are not the way to do it. 

The price of refurbished golf balls is attractive, but you get what you pay for in this world, and in this case, your progress as a golfer will suffer

As you develop your swing, establishing trustworthy benchmarks is critical. Everyone has a favorite shot or club they know how to use and are very comfortable with.

It takes some time to find this because of all the variables we face out on the course. Don’t let your golf ball be one of them. 

This holds true for all aspects of your game. You may think you’re pulling putts, but in fact, your golf ball is refurbished and oddly shaped, so it can’t help but roll in an inconsistent fashion. 

Plenty of affordable golf balls that are brand new and fresh off the assembly line with laser precision are available today. Choose one and stick with it for at least an entire season so you can be sure that the ball is not the reason you sliced it in the woods. 

A muddy golf balls sits in the grass.

Understanding The Environmental Effects

While we don’t want to use waterlogged golf balls for the club championship or even any handicap tracking round, we still want to remove these from the water any way we can. 

Golf balls take about 1000 years to fully decompose and, in the process, release harmful toxins to local wildlife. Most golf balls will start to unravel, which can be mistaken for plant life and consumed by fish. 

While biodegradable balls are available, they can still not perform the way currently engineered balls can. We hope this will change in the near future, but until that happens, we can focus on not hitting balls in the water by visiting the driving range more often! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Re-furbished Golf Balls Waterlogged?

No, not all refurbished golf balls are waterlogged. Most refurbishing companies have a rating system, and anything in the top 2 rankings will be void of water.

However, the top 2 rankings will cost a bit more than the lower-quality refurbished golf balls, and these are the ones where water may be present. Beginners should avoid these if they want to expedite their improvement. 

Can you Dry Out A Waterlogged Golf Ball?

No, a waterlogged golf ball cannot be dried. Similar to your iPhone that you dropped in the lake, no amount of rice will be able to restore the function of your golf ball.

It can still be used if you have a net or hitting station at your disposal, or you can use it to create some type of golf-themed art or decorative piece, perfect for Father’s or Mother’s Day.

A white golf balls sits in a pond.

How Long Does it Take for A Golf Ball To Become Waterlogged?

Golf balls can take days to become noticeably waterlogged.

However, if your ball is damaged, it could take as little as a few hours for the water to seep in and cause irreparable damage.

Once this happens, the ball should be retired from competitive play. If only slight damage is caused, the ball can still be used by schools to teach juniors.

do golf balls float or sink?

The question “Do golf balls float or sink?” is a relatively easy one. In most cases, golf balls will sink because they are denser than the water.

Can You Make Money Retrieving Pond Balls?

Yes, you can make money retrieving pond balls if you have the right equipment and paperwork in order. First, you’ll need to be fully certified to scuba dive in the region that you plan to harvest.

In most cases, this will also require some type of insurance. You will also need the proper equipment to make gathering, removing, and transporting the balls as easy as possible. Oh, and don’t forget to ask the golf course first to avoid trespassing charges.

Are Golf Balls Biodegradable?

No, 99.99% of golf balls are not biodegradable. Unless it explicitly says on the packaging that they are, chances are, every ball you’ve ever hit into any pond, lake, or ocean is non-biodegradable.

That equates to about 300 million golf balls each year in the US. Technology in biodegradable balls is advancing quickly, and we look forward to making the switch sooner rather than later. 

A golf ball sits on the sand, with seawater washing over it.

Wrap-Up: Do Golf Balls Get Waterlogged?

Given how many times we wash or scrub a golf ball, many people think that its cover is impervious to the negative effects of water. We now know that’s not true, and if left submerged, golf balls can become waterlogged, which is a death sentence for them. 

It’s not a question of ‘Do golf balls get waterlogged?’ It’s only a matter of ‘When?” 

To avoid the pitfalls that waterlogged golf balls come with, avoid lower-quality refurbished balls. Especially if you are a beginner, you need all the help you can get, so don’t start things on the wrong foot. 

Repurpose your waterlogged golf balls but keep them far away from the golf course; they’ve already suffered enough. 

Next Up: Are Golf Courses Bad For The Environment? Weighing Up The Positive And Negative Environmental Impact Of Golf Courses

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After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

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