Do Golf Balls Go Bad

Do Golf Balls Go Bad? (Spoiler: Not Forever!)

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Seasoned golfers know that golf balls do not necessarily go bad!

When stored properly, the average life of a golf ball is around 10 years. While they can get old, their overall performance can be maintained with the right measures and practices.

This article is a complete guide to everything you need to know about golf balls and their shelf life. 

It will provide essential information on:

  • The build of a golf ball
  • The durability of golf ball covers
  • What affects a ball’s lifespan. 

We’ll also share important insights into the factors you need to be aware of when a golf ball ages and when to switch to a new ball.  Let’s get into it!

How golf balls are made

golf ball

Golf balls are made with a variety of materials. The modern golf ball has an inner core that is constructed from pressurized or synthetic rubber.

The core is the part of the golf ball that affects the speed, distance, and spin. The core is surrounded by several layers. The layers increase the spin of the golf ball and influence control.

The cover and the dimples on the outer layer of the golf ball also affect the golf ball’s spin and make it more aerodynamic. This allows the ball to travel through the air freely without a lot of resistance.

Factors that affect their shelf life

There are several factors that impact the quality of golf balls over time. They will determine how long your golf balls will last and how much they can affect your performance.

Construction and materials 

The durability and resilience of the materials used in a golf ball can significantly affect its lifespan. 

High-quality golf balls are made with advanced materials and techniques that result in a longer shelf life compared to lower-quality golf balls.

Storage conditions

Giving your golf balls proper storage is crucial in maintaining their shelf life! 

Make sure to store your golf balls in a dry and cool place away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight to get the most out of them.

Frequency of use

Golf balls are highly susceptible to wear and tear. Each time you hit a golf ball with a club, you inflict friction that damages the core and surface of the ball. 

Over time, this will lead to cuts, chips, dents, or scuffs on the ball, which reduces its flight and aerodynamics.

Type of golf course

The type of golf course you play in also dictates the lifespan of your golf balls. A gold ball receives significant damage whenever it lands on cart paths and hits golf carts, trees, or other on-course objects. 

Similarly, courses with plenty of water can cause performance problems for your ball.

Water exposure

While golf balls are resistant to water, their outer covers can start to break down if they sit in a water strap for an extended period. 

When water seeps into the golf ball’s core, it will begin to get microfractures and cracks.

Different types of golf ball covers and their durability

The type of cover is one of the most important materials in the construction of a golf ball. It is the ball’s outer layer and is largely responsible for spin and feel. 

Type of Golf BallsDurability
Urethane-coveredThe most popular type of coverSoft with a lot of spinNot as durable as Surlyn covers
Ionomer-coveredSofter than Surlyn covers but harder than urethane covers Good balance of durability and spin
Surlyn-coveredIdeal for withstanding any golf courseHardest and most durable type of coverNot as much spin as ionomer or urethane covers

What happens to golf balls’ shelf life as they age

The best way to determine if a golf ball is no longer good to play with is to physically and visually inspect it. Let’s take a look at some of the clearest signs that your golf balls have gone bad: 

Loss of compression

Compression simply refers to how hard or soft a golf ball is. If your used ball bounces significantly less on concrete than a new ball, it’s most likely time for a replacement. 

Changes in spin rate

A golf ball’s spin rate will affect how far it flies towards its target. If you observe that it’s no longer flying the right distance, it might mean that it’s time to swap for a new ball.

Discoloration and fading

Seeing any fading or discoloration on the surface of your golf ball means that its cover has been exposed to chemicals or UV rays. It can have a minimal yet noticeable effect on the general feel of the ball. 

Cuts and cracks

Cuts or cracks on the surface of the ball mean that its overall integrity has been damaged. This will ultimately affect the spin and flight of the golf ball. 

Dents and scuffs

Noticing dents or scuffs on the ball’s surface means that its aerodynamics have been altered. This can have a moderate impact on its accuracy and distance.


When should I replace my golf ball?

The best time to replace your golf ball is when you begin noticing visible damage and performance changes. 

Are 20-year-old golf balls still good?

Yes. Old golf balls are fine to use if they are stored properly and refinished before taking them out to the course.

How many hits can a golf ball take?

Golf balls have been shown to last for seven 18-hole rounds without any decrease in performance.

What do you do with old golf balls?

There are many uses for old golf balls. You can recycle them by using them as practice balls or for improved potted plant drainage.