Do Golf Balls Go Bad? What Is Golf Ball Shelf Life?

Your golf equipment does require periodic maintenance, but do golf balls go bad?

The grips on your clubs need to be changed every 2-5 years depending on how much you play. The grooves on your wedges wear down over time.

Golf gloves either rip or get holes in them. It is always a good idea to wash your clubs before you play.

Do you ever consider the age of the golf balls in your bag? Do golf balls go bad?

Golf is hard enough without our golf balls failing us. Will you lose distance if you use an older ball? Could an old ball make your hook or slice worse?

do golf balls go bad? Golf balls spill out of a bucket.

We answer all of these questions below. How should you store your new golf balls? Will it impact your scorecard if you play a used golf ball?

You may be surprised to find out that you have control over how your golf balls perform. Your golf ball shelf life may come down to how you treat them!

Let’s get started.

Do Golf Balls Go Bad? 3 Factors That Impact Performance

There are several different factors that impact how the golf ball in your bag is going to perform. Let’s take a deep dive into three of them.

#1: Where Do You Store Your New Golf Balls?

You purchase a new dozen of your favorite brand. There is no reason to carry all 12 of them the next time you play, so where do you store them?

a number of golf balls on a tee next to a club

There are good and bad answers to this question. Let’s play a little game of “Do” and “Don’t”:

  • Do: A closet in your home
  • Don’t: The trunk of your car
  • Do: Your climate-controlled garage
  • Don’t: Your damp basement
  • Do: Your living room
  • Don’t: Your freezer

You may think we are kidding about the “freezer”, but there was a rumor that golf balls would travel farther when frozen (this is not true).

If stored properly, a new golf ball is fine for 10-20 years. Keep them in a friendly environment you will never have to ask “do golf balls go bad”.

A golfer makes a putt towards the hole

In other words, your new Titleist balls enjoy the same climate as you. Dry and comfortable temperatures (not too hot or too cold).

A common mistake made by golfers is leaving their golf balls in the trunk of their car. Extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter will impact the performance of your balls.

Get the most out of your golf balls – keep them comfortable!

#2: Collisions

We can’t always use a new golf ball, so the second part of “do golf balls go bad” is related to used balls.

The balls that are sitting in your bag from your last round or the ball you just found on the 3rd hole. Are you sacrificing your score if use one of these balls?

The most significant risk to your golf ball’s performance is collisions. Bouncing off the cart path, hitting a rock, or ricocheting through a tree.

Golf ball technology has come a long way. Balata balls that were used in the 90s would easily get disfigured, but newer balls are much tougher.

a golfer attempts to flick a ball into the hole

That being said, you always want to inspect a ball before putting it in to play. A cart path mark or a scrape from a tree could cause it to behave strangely.

A damaged ball cold spin more, which will cost you distance. You want your ball to fly as far as possible.

A scrape could also cause your ball to spin sideways and increase your hook or slice.

To answer the question “do golf balls go bad” you need to know how that ball has been treated. A ball can last many rounds if it is living in the fairway!

#3: Time In The Water

Going on a golf ball search around your local course is a great way to find golf balls and save money, but be cautious with balls you find in lakes or creeks.

Golf balls can go bad if they are submerged in water for an extended time. If you notice the color is off (no longer bright white) you should assume the performance of the ball is impacted.

a number of new and old golf balls

Do golf balls go bad in water? The answer is Yes. It won’t happen overnight, but if the ball is there for a long time we would not recommend you play it.

Do Golf Balls Go Bad? Final Answer

We understand. You asked a simple question. Do golf balls go bad? We owe you a simple answer.

Just like the game of golf, there is some nuance. The best way to answer is to differentiate between used golf balls and new golf balls.

Do Golf Balls Go Bad? New Balls

The quick answer is “No”. As long as you store them in a reasonable climate. The type of climate that you enjoy, they will last for years.

Place your new golf balls in a closet in your home and don’t worry about how long it takes to use them. They will be ready to perform when you decide to break them out.

You don’t need to worry about the shelf life of new golf balls.

a golfer throws his bag in the air in frustration

Do Golf Balls Go Bad? Used Balls

Used golf balls are a bit more interesting. Depending on what has happened to them, their performance could decrease.

That being said, playing with used golf balls is a great way to save money. If you fighting to break 100 for the first time, you don’t need to play with new golf balls.

How can tell if your used golf ball is still in good shape? We can help. Do the following:

  • Check the color – is the used golf ball still bright or has it faded? Discoloration could be a sign the ball will not perform as well as it should.
  • Look for marks – are there any marks on the ball that you can’t clean off with water and a towel? If so, this ball may not fly correctly.
  • Water logged – as far as you know, has the used golf ball spent time submerged in water?

If the color looks good and you don’t see any damage to the outside of the ball you are probably good to go.

golf balls in a basket

That being said, always pay attention to your ball flight. If you notice strange things (curving too much or falling out of the air) you might want to retire that ball.

Golf is hard enough. You don’t need your golf balls to make it harder, so it is always better to be safe than sorry.

One final thought on “do golf balls go bad”. Don’t lose sleep worrying about your golf ball!

Let’s be honest. Most of us will lose the ball long before it goes bad!

Up Next: Could The Right Golf Ball Give You More Distance?

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Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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