Can You Use Practice Golf Balls In Competition? (Explained)

Sometimes, I find random balls on the course and just pick them up and keep them as a “throwaway” ball for later when I’m practicing. But sometimes, when scrambling for a ball at the tee, I may pick up a practice ball out of my bag and use it (dumb, I know). 

But it got me thinking about how illegal that is in this game of golf. So can you use practice golf balls in the competition? 

As a general rule, you are not allowed to use practice golf balls during a competition. This is because they do not meet the specifications for competition balls. Studies shows, that depending on the type of club you’re using, you can hit a practice ball much farther.

However, there may be some exceptions to this rule, depending on the specific tournament or event. Let’s take a closer look to ensure you follow the rules. 

Golf balls in the field
Golf balls

Are practice golf balls the same as regular golf balls?

No, practice golf balls are not the same as regular golf balls. Practice golf balls are designed to be softer and have less spin than standard balls. This makes them ideal for practicing your shots without worrying about losing the ball.

However, it also means they don’t fly as far or as straight as regular golf balls.

So, while you might be able to hit a few extra yards with a practice ball, don’t expect to see a major difference in your game.

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What are practice golf balls used for?

Practice golf balls are primarily used for… well, practicing! They can be used to work on your swing, perfect your short game, or get some extra reps in before a round. 

Many golfers find that they can hit a practice ball further than a regular ball, so they use them to work on their driving distance.

However, as we mentioned before, don’t expect to see a huge difference in your game when you switch to a practice ball.

When can you use a practice ball in the competition?

There may be some exceptions to the rule that practice golf balls can’t be used in competition. For example, if you’re playing in a tournament that allows for lost balls, you might be able to use a practice ball.

Additionally, some tournaments or events might allow for the use of practice balls if all the competitors agree to it beforehand.

When Can You Declare a Golf Ball Lost? Read on the highlighted text!

So, if you’re unsure whether you can use a practice ball in a competition, check with the tournament director or event organizer beforehand.

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Have Pros Ever Used Practice Balls In Competition?

While the answer to the question, can you use practice golf balls in competition? It is widely known that golf balls have been used in golf matches before. 

In the early 2000s, Tiger Woods used a practice ball during the final round of the Masters Tournament. 

He did this because he lost his ball earlier in the round and had no spares. While you think you may never compete with a practice ball, you just might be surprised.

Are you interested to know How Do Golf Ball Markers Work? Learn more in my other article.

How to choose a practice golf ball

When choosing a practice golf ball, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

  • Give it a try first.
  • After all, you want to make sure it feels good when you hit it.
  • Additionally, you’ll want to the ball be durable enough to withstand multiple hits.
  • You’ll also want to consider the size of the ball and the material it’s made from.
  • And finally, you’ll want to ensure the ball is affordable.
  • With so many practice golf balls on the market, there’s no reason to spend more than you have to.

What to do with practice golf balls?

Take it into practice!

Watch this video to know the best practice golf ball for you!

Benefits of using Practice Golf Balls

While practice golf balls are not commonly used in competition, they can help you work on your shots without having to worry about losing the ball.

Additionally, they can be used to perfect your short game or practice your swing. Practice golf balls are also usually softer than regular balls, which can help reduce the risk of injury if you hit yourself with one. We’ve all done it.

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Benefits of using Practice Golf Balls

And, as we mentioned before, they can also be used to hit a few extra yards. So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your game, using a practice ball might be just what you need.

Am I allowed to borrow a golf ball from a competitor?

In general, no, you cannot borrow golf balls from a competitor during a round. This is because it gives one player an advantage over the others. 

However, there may be some exceptions to this rule. For example, if a player runs out of balls and doesn’t have any spares, they might be able to borrow balls from another player. Additionally, if all the players agree to it beforehand, they might be able to share golf balls during the round.

So, if you’re unsure whether you can borrow golf balls from a competitor, check with the tournament director or event organizer beforehand.

Is it okay to use refurbished golf balls in competitions?

While you cannot borrow from a competitor you are allowed to use refurbished golf balls are allowed. On the other hand, if the ball’s name is not included on the List of Conforming Golf Balls you won’t still be able to use it.

The history of practice golf balls

The history of practicing golf balls is a bit unclear. It’s believed that they were first used in the early 1900s, but it’s unclear when or where they were first used.

What we do know is that practice golf balls have been around for over 100 years and they show no signs of going away anytime soon.

Thanks to their versatility and affordability, practice golf balls are an essential piece of equipment for any golfer, whether you’re just starting or you’re a seasoned pro.

Three men drinking while playing golf.
I use practice golf balls with friends every time I’m on the driving range to prepare for the next time I play a match. There’s no better way to polish your game.

Final Thoughts

 The rule of thumb is that practice balls cannot be used in competition. If you are using it just for fun, then it likely doesn’t make much of a difference. 

But I would at least let your other golf buddies know to keep the playing field even. 

I would not do it personally. But there have been times that I did it accidentally. So, I guess that counts? Regardless, fess up to it and keep playing this game we love. 

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