Do Golf Balls Go Bad In Water? (Everything to Know)

Some of the best advice I ever got about the game of golfing was to not see the hazards, especially the water. We would go as far as saying, “what water…?” any time water was in play.

But it can be a difficult thing to go to a golf course and not see a water hazard. Water is everywhere and most golf courses will have at least one water hazard.

With that said, these water hazards cause balls to go for a dip and get wet far too often. This brings up whether golf balls can survive in water. Do golf balls go bad in water?

Typically, the outer shell of a golf ball does a great job of trying to keep out water. The materials of surlyn and urethane protect the inside of the ball. Over time, though, micro-cracks will appear. If these cracks/gaps have enough size to allow any particle of water in, they will penetrate inside the outer layer and make it into the inner layer, causing a waterlogged golf ball. 

What does water do to a golf ball? What are some things you want to consider if you choose to either rescue your ball from the water or try to collect some golf balls from a body of water, thinking you are picking up your supply?

Let us explore this question in more detail to get an understanding of whether golf balls face any damage or danger from water, or whether they can withstand exposure to some H2O.

How long does it take to get waterlogged balls?

There is a lot of dispute in terms of how long it takes for a golf ball to get waterlogged.

What we know, though, is that it will vary from one golf ball to the next. In addition, it is a very slow process. Very slow. 

But part of this reason is the types of golf balls you have. If you have a three-piece golf ball or a two-piece golf ball.

A three-piece golf ball will last a little longer under water than the two-piece before incurring water damage. 

It will take far more than just a few minutes in the water for a golf ball to get fully waterlogged.

Studies have found that it will take far more than just a month in order to make the ball see any impact.

More than five months is usually a good enough timeframe for the golf ball to get waterlogged fully.

Anytime less than that and you could pull a ball out of a lake and have it be perfectly useable.

Are lake balls any good?

Lake balls are tempting.

Ever look in a lake at a golf course and see how many balls are just sitting in there? It can be easy to get the idea to fish out a bunch of the golf balls and build up your supply.

What exactly are you gaining, though? What is the state of these golf balls? Are they any good?

Lake balls will be of varying levels of quality. It really all depends on the age of the ball and the time it has been submerged under the water.

If a brand new golf ball ends up in a lake, it is going to withstand the submerged state for a long time. A more worn-out ball cannot do so well.

Lake balls can be good or bad and it is up to you to inspect them.

The general rule of thumb is that, more likely, the balls will be waterlogged and, thus, should be thrown away.

There could be a use for the balls though if they are still of high enough quality.

Does it make a difference for a beginner to use lake golf balls?

A beginner player could do perfectly fine with lake balls out of the gate. Research has been done on golf balls that have spent a lot of time at the bottom of a pond.

What studies and research have found is that there are varying levels of performance impact because of being under the water. 

Beginners just want to hit golf balls, regardless of if they are recycled balls or not, period. Making solid contact should be the primary concern, not carry distance and yards.

They are not expecting a hole in one and precision. For a beginner who is just trying to get their comfort level up on a golf course, it may be perfectly fine to use a lake ball.

One of the best purchases I have ever made was a golf ball retriever. I have found the occasional wet golf ball and just added it to my collection. 

It’s particulary helpful when I have a ball that I do not care where it lands when I may be testing something in a live round of golf

The distance in which the ball will probably travel for a beginner will be the same whether it is a new ball, or it has been under the lake.

Do Golf Balls Go Bad In Water

Golf Ball Construction

So what is the make-up of a golf ball? If you hold a golf ball in your hand, can you understand its construction of it? Think about the durability of the golf ball.

By design, they are meant to take a whacking from some serious clubs one hole to the next. In the event that you do not lose the golf ball, you could use the same ball for multiple rounds of golf. So how are they made?

Golf balls consist of multiple layers of construction.

Usually, a modern golf ball will have at least two, if not three or four, layers. There are also core technology components that live on the inside of all those layers. The most important part of a golf ball, though, is the outer additional layer.

The golf ball cover is usually urethane or surlyn. These urethane covers protect the inner layers from water and other elements.

Do golf balls go bad in water? Not if the outer layer is solid!

Final Thoughts

Golf balls can stay in the water for quite a while before they ever become waterlogged. But the problem is, we likely have no idea how long balls we find in the water. 

So you take your golfing life into your own hands when you use a ball that may or may not be waterlogged.

What I like to do is balls that may have come into contact with water over a long period of time. I just keep those separate as “throwaway” balls. Balls are expensive and we have to be careful since they do cost so much for no real reason, other than we just love an expensive sport.

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