I recently purchased a dozen quality golf balls. The problem is, quality golf balls cost an arm and a leg, and even the cheapest version will still leave some dent in your wallet. Why are golf balls so expensive?
Golf balls are expensive because of the significant amount of research and engineering that goes into producing top-quality golf balls. The research and development include other expenditures like paying for research spaces, branding, expertise, and marketing. Customization and the type of materials used are other factors that raise the price of golf balls.
Golf balls have always been expensive since the game was invented.
There are many reasons golf balls are so pricey, some legit and others seemingly “unfair.” Tag along as we look at some of them in greater detail.
Why Golf Balls are So Expensive
1. Research and Development
Golf balls have evolved over the years, each generation producing an improved version.
Many hours and resources are put into research and engineering to develop the best possible golf balls. Manufacturers hire scientists and engineers who experiment with different materials and development methods, all of which earn a decent remuneration.
The goal is to create quality balls with the right colors, covers, and other factors that increase performance and meet the USGA standards.
Combine the research, engineering, material, industrial, and labor cost. You’ll see why golf balls are expensive. The final consumer has to pay for the costly innovation to get superb performance in exchange.
2. Materials Used
Golf balls have evolved over hundreds of years.
Wooden golf balls sourced from hardwood trees were used at the beginning, animal skins stuffed with goose feathers followed, then the birch golf balls, and lastly, the synthetic materials in your golf balls today. Layers have increased, and each layer is made of different material in modern golf balls.
Notice that all the materials mentioned are quite expensive to source and work with. Each company has to work hard to ensure that its golf balls meet the specific needs of the users.
Some materials like surlyn and urethane on the top cover of a golf ball are currently irreplaceable, pushing their costs even further.
3. Golf Ball Layers
Nowadays, it’s hard to find a golf ball with less than two layers, and if you’re serious about developing golf skills, you need something with at least three layers.
The more layers in a golf ball, the better the performance due to the extra spin. All these outer layers are composed of different materials; hence, the more the layer, the pricier the ball.
A two-piece golf ball tends to feel rubbery and is harder to control as opposed to three-piece golf balls. The third, fourth, and fifth layers can give you better handling abilities in your next game.
However, the extra costs trickle down to the final consumer.
Part of the total golf ball cost has nothing to do with research, quality, or material but the brand.
Everyone loves a particular product from a specific fast-food chain, clothing line, or machinery, and the same case applies to golf. Some golf brands, for example, Titleist, are more expensive than other ordinary sellers.
It takes lots of hard work, marketing, trials, and even copyrighting to start and establish a brand. It costs them lots of resources to convince you to relate their brand with quality.
Golf enthusiasts who have fallen for this trick will refund the brand’s parent company, albeit unknowingly.
Remember your favorite advert? The one that shows some prominent figure in the golf world making a perfect shot using company X golf balls? That is marketing, and it costs lots of money to convince people that your product is as good, if not better, than your competitors.
Billboards, mentions, sponsorships, and even pamphlets tell you about the enormous investment in marketing.
A single advert on television costs a lot, and you will pay much more for it to feature in prime time. And don’t forget your favorite golf league player who is paid to make it sound so good.
The bottom line is the company must recover all its investments from the converted clients.
6. Supply Vs. Demand
Historically, golf has been a preserve of some select few, especially the wealthy, but the tide is slowly turning.
The golf course has seen more and more new faces in recent years as living standards continue to improve. The law of demand and supply dictates that when there is more demand than the supply, the prices go up.
While there is still a fair supply of golf balls, the entry of so many people increases the demand, which affects supply and pricing. The game’s popularity isn’t waning anytime soon, and the manufacturers have to keep up with growing demand.
Golf ball manufacturers are getting overwhelmed and need to develop new and innovative production methods.
Therefore, increasing prices is a good way of keeping the customers at bay while developing the new means. It is also a way of funding new research and engineering to facilitate mass production.
7. Golf Players Can Afford It
It’s common knowledge that golf is not a poor people’s game. You must have some significant cash stacked somewhere and some investments, even if you are not extremely wealthy. How else will you afford expensive golf club membership and the high costs of game equipment?
Sometimes, there isn’t much difference between your favorite premium branded golf balls and others from a not so much recognized brand.
The manufacturers are well aware of this fact and exploit it to their advantage. Some just charge premium prices because you can afford it.
Many clients don’t care and will just play along as long as they can afford it.
8. Golf Balls Are Indispensable
You cannot go fishing without a fishing rod, and the same case applies to golf. Expensive or cheap, you need several golf balls for each game if you are to play golf.
Either you purchase some or abandon the game altogether if you don’t agree with golf ball pricing.
The manufacturers exploit this necessity by setting the minimum price at a specific threshold that is usually above most people’s reach.
Making it cheaper would ruin the market and bring unfair competition. Even if the price is high, you will work harder to ensure you afford the golf balls, since the game cannot proceed without them.
9. Can’t Play Without Them
Golf balls are a necessity. You can’t really play a round of golf without a golf ball. As obvious as that seems, any golf ball company knows this and can manipulate the prices accordingly.
Which is why I do not mind going into the woods now and then to find some Pro-Vs. There is no shortage of golf balls in the woods, that is for sure. Just be strategic in where you look.
I like to ask myself, would a normal amateur golfer send some game shots in this area? Then get to hunting.
Just watch out for snakes or gators if you are in the south.
10. Performance off the Tee
The worst kept secret in golf is that Pro-Vs are the best balls out there.
Others that I like to use are Bridgestone, Vice, Kirkland, and Callaway’s. But there is a big difference when you hit a Top Flite ball or a Slazenger versus the others we just mentioned.
The makeup of the ball can make a difference in how well it “pops” off a club.
But when you are newer or a high-handicapper, it’s likely best to just get used to hitting any ball consistently. Get good with hitting any ball and you will appreciate the better balls later.
Once your shots stop nose diving out of control, then it is time to invest in some quality balls.
11. Performance on the Green
You can usually tell the weight of a ball just by holding it and that feel will make a difference with how they pop off of a putter as well.
Putters are needlessly expensive, but they are that way because they are also essential. It’s the only club you grab on every hole. But they are also designed well and heavy to make good contact with a ball that can take it and run into the hole.
A heavier ball also creates a good pitch mark when it hits the green helping your ball stop once it lands on the green.
Nothing more satisfying than hitting an awesome shot that plants on the green where cheaper balls skid right off the green.
The cost of golf balls is insane. But it is a necessary piece of golf equipment. This game of golf that we love so much has a hold, and as long as it has that hold, it can and will be our overlords.
But to combat that, find places to get less expensive golf balls. I use Facebook marketplace a lot and have found tons of quality balls and other golf accessories.
I will often use Amazon as well (click here for the ones I like) but rarely do I ever buy from a golf shop on a course unless I am really in a bind. Why Are Golf Balls So Expensive? (11 Best Reasons)