Golf Ball Secrets: Do Golf Balls Actually Go Bad?

Golf balls can deteriorate over time, influenced by factors such as storage conditions, usage, and material composition. Although unused balls don’t decay like used ones, they still should be examined for age signs if stored for extended periods. Damage, manifested as scratches, dents, or deformities, may affect the ball’s performance and safety during play.

Do golf balls go bad Featured Image

Key Takeaways

  • Golf balls can last a long time if stored and used correctly, with factors like material, storage conditions, and ball type playing crucial roles in their durability.
  • Modern golf balls made of synthetic materials like Surlyn or urethane outlast older ones made of balata, and proper storage conditions are essential for preserving their integrity.
  • Extreme temperatures and humidity can impact golf ball performance, making optimal storage crucial, including avoiding direct sunlight exposure and keeping them in a cool, dry place.
  • While most modern balls resist water damage, prolonged exposure can still affect performance. Unused balls, even if not played, should be checked for signs of age and water damage before use.
  • Regularly inspect golf balls for signs of damage, such as cracks, discoloration, or reduced performance. Employ proper disposal methods, like donating or recycling, for old or unusable balls.


Do golf balls go bad over time? This is a common question among avid golfers. It’s a legitimate concern, considering that golf balls are an essential part of the game.

You want to make sure that you’re playing with the best possible equipment, and this includes using fresh and properly functioning golf balls. Golf balls are made up of different materials, which can affect their durability and performance over time.

The two main components of a golf ball are the core and the cover. The core is made up of synthetic rubber, while the cover is typically made from a blend of materials like urethane or ionomer.

Factors such as storage conditions can also have an impact on the lifespan of your golf balls. For example, storing your golf balls in hot or humid conditions can cause them to deteriorate faster than if they were kept in a cool, dry place.

It’s important to note that not all types of golf balls are created equal; there are distance balls, tour balls, and advanced balls, all with different features and properties that may affect how long they last. Additionally, some players prefer newer technology in their equipment, while others prefer traditional gear.

Check out this video below from I LUV GOLF‘s YouTube channel where they check how long you can use a golf ball before performance drops off:

One way to check for signs of damage on your golf ball is by inspecting its cover. If there are any scratches or dents on it, this could result in erratic performance during play or reduced distance off the tee.

Another way to determine if your golf ball has gone bad is by conducting a durability test. One common method involves soaking your ball in water for 24 hours and checking for any deformities or changes once it’s removed from the water.

But what about unused golf balls? Do they go bad too?

While unused golf balls won’t necessarily deteriorate over time like used ones might due to wear and tear suffered during play, they should still be checked for signs of age before being used again after long periods without being played with. Discarding old golf balls that have gone bad is important for both your performance and the safety of others.

If a golf ball is damaged, it may not fly as intended or even cause injury to players if it shatters on impact. In the next sections, we’ll take a closer look at some of the factors that can affect the durability of your golf balls and provide tips for prolonging their lifespan.

An orange golf ball sitting on a golf tee on green grass

Do Golf Balls Go Bad Over Time?

As an avid golfer, you’ve probably asked yourself this question before.

Well, the answer is yes and no. Golf balls can last for a long time if they are stored and used correctly, but they can also deteriorate over time, affecting the spin and feel of the ball.

In this article, we’ll discuss in detail what affects golf balls’ durability and how to increase their lifespan. Firstly, let’s discuss golf ball materials.

Most modern-day golf balls are made of synthetic materials like Surlyn or urethane that do not break down easily. However, older golf balls made of balata or other natural materials will break down much faster than modern ones.

Another factor that affects golf ball integrity is storage conditions. Temperature control is crucial when it comes to storing your golf gear, including your balls.

"As an avid golfer, you've probably asked yourself this question before. Well, the answer is yes and no. Golf balls can last for a long time if they are stored and used correctly, but they can also deteriorate over time, affecting the spin and feel of the ball."

High temperatures can cause the outer layer of the ball to expand and contract repeatedly, leading to cracks on its surface after some time. Moreover, submerging a golf ball in water won’t necessarily cause it to go bad unless it stays soaked for an extended period.

Dimples on a golf ball help create spin when hit by a clubface. However, if submerged for too long or left underwater for prolonged periods regularly, water can seep into the core of the ball through these dimples and cause damage.

The lifespan of an unused golf ball varies depending on how well it’s stored, since exposure to high humidity or temperature changes during long-term storage would negatively impact its durability test results later on. To determine whether your pre-owned balls have gone bad after long periods of storage or use, you can perform a wear test by gently rubbing each one against sandpaper.

If you notice any significant scuff marks or tears during this scuff test process, then it’s time to consider discarding the old ones. If you want to extend the life of your golf balls, you need to ensure they are stored correctly.

Correct storage means keeping them in a cool and dry place, avoiding exposure to high humidity or temperature changes that could affect their integrity. Always be mindful of how you treat your golfing accessories, as they can impact your experience playing the game.

A golfer holding a white golf ball and a golden golf tee in their hand

Factors Affecting Golf Ball Durability

Golf balls are an essential part of golf equipmentThe ball’s performance is a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of a game. But do golf balls go bad?

If so, what factors affect their durability? Let’s find out.

  • Shelf Life: The shelf life of a golf ball is around five years. After five years, the ball’s performance and feel can start to deteriorate. If you have had unused golf balls sitting in your garage for more than five years, it is time to replace them.
  • Care and Maintenance: Proper care and maintenance can significantly increase the lifespan of your golf balls. Cleaning golf balls after every round ensures that dirt and debris do not spoil their cover or affect their spin and feel. Perform a scuff test regularly to check for any damage or deformation to the ball’s cover.
  • Storing Golf Balls: Storing your golf balls in extreme temperatures can compromise their performance. Heat causes ball deformation, while cold temperatures make the ball hard and brittle. Keep your unused balls in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Water Damage: A common misconception about golf balls is that they cannot be immersed in water without getting damaged or going bad. The truth is that most modern-day golf balls are designed to resist water damage, but prolonged exposure to water can still affect their performance.
  • Tour Ball vs. Regular Ball: Tour-level golf balls are designed for professionals who demand maximum spin and feel from their shots. They are made with high-quality materials that make them more durable than regular distance balls. However, tour-level balls also cost significantly more than regular-distance balls. 

There are various factors affecting the durability of a golf ball—shelf life, care and maintenance, storing conditions, and water damage—but with proper care and attention paid to these factors, one can keep using them within reasonable limits without fear of compromised performance or injury.

It is essential to inspect your golf ball regularly and replace it when needed. A good rule of thumb is to keep track of how many rounds you have played with a ball and replace it once it has been used enough to show signs of wear and tear.

A female golfer sitting with a golf club on her leg whilst holding a white golf ball

The Impact of Storage Conditions on Golf Balls

When it comes to golf balls, the way you store them can have a big impact on their longevity. Whether you like to stockpile balls or just have a few extra lying around, it’s important to take the proper storage precautions to ensure that your golf balls last as long as possible.

First and foremost, you need to keep your golf balls away from extreme temperatures. Too much heat can cause the outer layer of your ball to degrade and break down more quickly than normal, while cold temperatures can cause a loss of spin and feel.

So make sure you’re storing your balls in an area where the temperature remains relatively consistent. Humidity is another factor that can negatively affect your golf ball’s performance.

Moisture can seep into the outer layer of the ball, causing it to become waterlogged and heavy. This means it won’t travel as far through the air and could result in an erratic bounce once it hits the ground.

"When it comes to golf balls, the way you store them can have a big impact on their longevity. Too much heat can cause the outer layer of your ball to degrade and break down more quickly than normal, while cold temperatures can cause a loss of spin and feel."

If you’re serious about maintaining your golf ball’s durability and performance, then consider investing in some kind of climate-controlled storage solution. There are a variety of options available on the market today, ranging from small personal coolers to full-on refrigerators made specifically for storing golf balls.

When storing your unused golf balls, be sure to avoid putting them in direct sunlight or anywhere they will get wet or damp. Sunlight can lead to discoloration over time and may also impact their durability over time.

Proper storage conditions play a crucial role in maintaining your golf ball’s longevity and overall performance. Keep them away from extreme temperatures and moisture when not in use; invest in climate-controlled storage if possible; and avoid direct sunlight exposure or any potential contact with water or moisture so that they maintain optimal spin and distance when used next time on the course!

Check out this video below from The Golf Shop Online‘s YouTube channel where they check how long a golf ball lasts:

Do Golf Balls Go Bad in Water?

This is a common question among golfers, especially those who have accidentally hit their ball into a water hazard. While many believe that submerged golf balls become unusable, the truth is a bit more complicated. 

Firstly, it’s important to note that the type of golf ball material can impact its durability in water. For instance, some types of balls are designed to float in water, making them easier to retrieve. On the other hand, brand-new advanced balls may not float at all and can quickly sink to the bottom of a pond or lake.

Additionally, temperature control plays a role in whether or not a golf ball will be damaged by water. Extreme temperatures can cause ball deformation or damage to the outer layer of the ball. But what about pre-owned balls that have been submerged? Should you use these second-hand balls?

"While many believe that submerged golf balls become unusable, the truth is a bit more complicated. The type of golf ball material can impact its durability in water. Some types float, making retrieval easier, but pre-owned balls may show hidden damage after being submerged."

It depends on several factors, including how long they were underwater and how they were stored after being retrieved from the water. 

One way to check for golf ball integrity is by performing a wear test or scuff test. This involves examining the surface of the ball for any scratches or nicks that could affect performance and spin. If you notice any wobbles during your game after hitting your previously submerged golf balls, then it’s clear that they might not perform as well as expected.

However, even if your previously submerged golf balls pass the wear test and still seem like they’re as good as new (or close enough), it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no guarantee regarding their performance on future rounds. The expiration of golf balls isn’t always clear-cut, and there may be underlying damage caused by time spent underwater that isn’t immediately visible.

Optimal storage conditions are key when it comes to preserving the lifespan of your golf gear, including balls; this includes keeping them away from moisture as much as possible, especially in deep bodies of water! So while it may be tempting to try to salvage balls that have been submerged, it’s best to err on the side of caution and use fresh, undamaged balls for optimal performance.

A dirty golf ball about to be hit on a golf course

The Lifespan of Unused Golf Balls

Have you ever wondered how long your golf balls will last if you don’t use them?

It’s a valid question, especially if you’re someone who only plays occasionally or has an abundance of golfing orbs. Like most things, the unused golf ball is subject to the forces of time and nature.

Golf balls are typically made from synthetic rubber and plastic materials that can deteriorate over time. Most manufacturers do not provide an expiration date for their products, but the shelf life of golf balls is estimated to be about five years.

This means that any unused balls beyond this point may have performance degradation or other signs of wear. However, it’s worth noting that the lifespan of a golf ball can be affected by various factors, such as storage conditions, care, and maintenance.

If stored properly, a good-quality golf ball can last well beyond five years without losing much of its aerodynamic properties. One important factor in preserving the longevity of your golf balls is optimal storage.

Golfing accessories are usually quite sensitive to heat and moisture, which means that storing them in a cool and dry place is crucial for maintaining their quality. When it comes to storing golf balls, keeping them in an airtight container or bag is recommended because exposure to air can cause the ball cover to deteriorate over time.

"The lifespan of a golf ball can be extended by storing it correctly and taking care of its maintenance. If stored properly, a good-quality golf ball can last well beyond five years without losing much of its aerodynamic properties. Optimal storage conditions, including a cool and dry place and regular inspections, are crucial for preserving their quality."

Another storage consideration is saturation with water. If you accidentally dunk your golf ball in the water while playing, it’s essential to inspect it thoroughly before using it again.

A saturated ball will likely wobble when hit since excess water adds weight and throws off its balance. If you want your unused golf balls to last as long as possible, proper ball care is key!

Before stashing any away for future use, give each one a quick inspection for any signs of worn-out quality, like cracks or dents in its outer layer or changes in coloration due to prolonged exposure to air or sun rays. While golf balls do not have a specific expiration date, it’s worth noting that they aren’t immune to the forces of time and nature.

The lifespan of a golf ball can be extended by storing it correctly and taking care of its maintenance. So keep your unused golf balls in optimal storage conditions and inspect them for any signs of wear before using them again!

A white golf ball planted into the ground on a golf course green

Check out this video below from Golfing Is Best‘s YouTube channel where they discuss whether golf balls go bad or not:

Signs That Your Golf Balls Have Gone Bad

Understanding the indicators of when your golf balls have reached the end of their effective lifespan is paramount for maintaining peak performance on the golf course. While golf balls may exhibit varying degrees of longevity, they all have a finite shelf life, subject to deterioration over time due to factors like usage, storage conditions, and environmental exposure.

Here are 5 signs that your golf balls have gone bad or are starting to go bad:

  • Cracked or Cut Cover: Begin your assessment by scrutinizing the cover for any visible cracks or cuts. Damage to this integral component can have a profound impact on the golf ball’s spin and feel, directly influencing its overall performance on the course.
  • Discoloration or Yellowing: Another key aspect to inspect is the surface color of the golf ball. Exposure to sunlight and environmental elements can lead to discoloration or yellowing over time. While this may not always affect performance, it’s advisable to be vigilant about any changes in appearance.
  • Excessive Vibration: During gameplay, if you notice your golf balls vibrating excessively, it could signal an imbalance. This imbalance has the potential to adversely affect the trajectory and distance of your shots, undermining the overall quality of your game.
  • Wear Test: Conduct a comprehensive wear test by bouncing the golf balls off a hard surface or utilizing them at a driving range. This practical assessment provides valuable insights into their current condition, including factors like distance and spin, helping you gauge their ongoing suitability.
  • Consistent Short Shots: If, despite adjustments in club selection or swing mechanics, your shots consistently fall shorter than anticipated, it’s a clear indication that your golf balls may no longer be delivering optimal performance. This underscores the importance of considering new technology and replacing old balls to enhance your overall gameplay.

Recognizing and responding to these early signs of deterioration empowers you to retire old or compromised golf balls proactively. Whether you’re an amateur honing your skills or a seasoned professional seeking excellence, the decision to swap out worn-out golf balls for fresh ones can be a game-changer. 

By discarding golf balls that have gone bad and embracing new ones, you position yourself to fully relish the sport without any compromise in performance.

Enjoying this article? Read more:

A golf ball sitting on a golf tee on a golf course green

Tips for Prolonging the Life of Your Golf Balls

As a golf enthusiast, you know that the quality of golf balls can significantly impact your game. The last thing any golfer wants is compromised performance due to damaged or expired golf balls.

So, how can you prolong the life of your golf balls and ensure they deliver optimal performance on the course? Here are some tips:

  • Storing Golf Balls: One of the easiest ways to extend the lifespan of your golf balls is to store them properly. Keep them indoors at room temperature, away from extreme heat or cold, as these conditions can cause ball deformation and affect their performance. Avoid storing them in garages, attics, or anywhere that gets too hot or too cold. Also, don’t store them somewhere where they might get knocked around.
  • Water damage: Golf balls and water don’t mix well; even a small amount of water damage can lead to erratic ball speed and spin during play. If you accidentally immerse your golf balls in the water while playing around water hazards, check for signs of a damaged golf ball before using it again. If there are cracks or unevenness on the surface of the ball after immersion in water for a long enough time, then it’s better not to use it.
  • Brand new vs. cheaper ball: While it may be tempting to opt for cheaper brands when buying new golf balls, especially if you’re just starting, keep in mind that cheaper options may compromise their longevity. Professional-grade and brand-new goods have better construction quality than cheap ones, which means they last longer.
  • Vibrations: When carrying your bag around the course on a trolley, if possible, avoid dragging it behind while walking. This causes vibrations, which over time can cause harm to your golf spheres, leading to a shorter life span.
  • Check Expiration Dates: It’s worth noting that even brand-new, unused golf spheres have an expiration date (usually up to five years). Check your stash regularly, and make sure you’re using newer ones before older ones. The expiration date is usually stamped on the packaging, so look for it before purchasing, and make a habit of writing down the purchase date on each new golf ball you buy.

Following these tips will help you prolong the life of your golf balls and maintain optimal performance on the course. Remember to invest wisely in your equipment, store it correctly, and check it regularly for signs of wear or damage to ensure a more enjoyable game.

A golf ball sitting on a golf course green about to be hit by a golf club

The Benefits of Using Fresh Golf Balls

Embarking on a journey to enhance your golfing prowess demands strategic choices, and none are more impactful than the decision to use fresh golf balls. Beyond their surface-level contribution to improved performance, these pristine spheres carry with them a myriad of advantages that can profoundly influence your overall gameplay. 

As you step onto the tee, consider the following benefits of fresh golf balls, each a crucial aspect contributing to a heightened and more satisfying golfing experience:

  • Better Spin for Greater Control: The paramount role of spin in golf cannot be overstated, influencing the trajectory and distance of your shots. Fresh golf balls deliver heightened spin, providing you with superior control, particularly when navigating challenging courses with tight fairways or numerous hazards.

  • Advancements in Golf Ball Materials: Recent years have witnessed remarkable advancements in golf ball materials, leading to the creation of more durable covers and cores. Embracing new technology, fresh golf balls offer improved performance, capitalizing on these innovations to elevate your gameplay.

  • Essential for Accurate Wear Tests: Conducting an accurate wear test on a specific model or brand necessitates the use of fresh golf balls. The reliability of the test is compromised with old or pre-owned balls that might be damaged or worn out, making it challenging to discern whether discrepancies in performance stem from the ball itself or other factors like swing mechanics.

  • Mitigating Storage-Induced Impairments: Prolonged storage in suboptimal conditions, such as high humidity or extreme temperatures, can adversely affect the durability and performance of golf balls. Regularly swapping out old balls for fresh ones minimizes impairment caused by these long-term storage conditions, ensuring consistent quality.

Incorporating fresh, high-quality golf balls into your game is a strategic move that promises an array of benefits, applicable to golfers across all levels, from enthusiastic amateurs to seasoned professionals. Enjoy improved spin for precise control, harness the latest in golf ball technology, conduct accurate wear tests, enhance durability, and safeguard against impairment from suboptimal storage conditions. 

Aligning with the practice of seasoned players who regularly refresh their equipment, including clubs and shoes, and opting for new golf balls ensures that your gear remains in top form, both on and off the course.

A dirty and old golf ball sitting next to a golf hole on a golf course green

How to Properly Dispose of Bad Golf Balls

When your golf balls have gone bad, it’s important to dispose of them properly. Otherwise, they could end up in landfills or bodies of water, causing harm to the environment and wildlife. Here are some tips for disposing of bad golf balls.

Firstly, you should never discard old golf balls in a landfill. Many people assume that because golf balls are small and made of rubber or plastic, they can be thrown away with other household waste. However, this is not the case. Golf balls take years to decompose and will clog up landfills if not disposed of properly.

Instead, consider donating your used but still decent-quality golf balls to local driving ranges or golf courses. They may be able to use the reclaimed golf balls for practice shots or resell them at a discounted price.

"When disposing of old golf balls, never toss them in landfills. Instead, donate usable ones to local ranges or courses. Unusable balls? Recycle through specialized programs or with grinding machines. Avoid careless disposal, especially for wet balls, as they can harbor harmful bacteria. Be an eco-conscious golfer!"

If you have unusable golf balls that can’t be reclaimed, there are specialized recycling programs available to ensure they don’t end up in landfills. These programs work by repurposing old golf balls into new products, such as playground equipment and synthetic turf fields.

If neither option is available in your area, you can also recycle the materials yourself by using grinding machines designed for processing rubber or plastic spheres. It’s worth noting that if you’re disposing of soaked or submerged golf balls that have absorbed water over time, it’s even more important not to throw them away carelessly, as they can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Knowing how to dispose of bad golf balls is an important part of being an environmentally conscious golfer. Remember: don’t throw away old ones carelessly; donate usable ones where possible; recycle unusable ones carefully; and avoid discarding wet ones anywhere but in the trash bin!

A golf ball on a orange golf tee about to be hit by a golf iron


The question of whether golf balls go bad over time is a tricky one to answer.

While there is no definitive lifespan for a golf ball, it’s clear that several factors can impact its durability and performance. Optimal storage conditions are essential for maintaining golf ball quality.

To keep your golf balls in top condition, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Additionally, make sure to avoid high levels of humidity or extreme temperatures that may negatively affect the synthetic rubber used in modern golf balls.

If you’re wondering when to replace your golf balls, there are several signs to look out for. Keep an eye out for signs of damage like cracks or discoloration on the surface of the ball.

If you notice any flat spots on the ball’s surface or if it seems like its distance has been reduced significantly, it may be time to invest in a new set of golf balls. While some avid golfers swear by brand-new golf balls and will only use them for peak performance, others find that pre-owned balls can be just as effective at improving their game.

Second-hand balls can be cost-effective and still offer great distance and control. To prolong your golf ball’s life span, thoroughly clean them after each round with soapy water and rinse well before leaving them out to dry completely on a flat surface before storing them properly.

Taking good care of your golfing equipment is essential if you want to maintain optimal performance on the course. Whether you prefer using fresh distance balls or don’t mind using second-hand ones as long as they’re still functional, always taking optimal storage conditions into consideration when properly preserving them will help extend their lifespan significantly.

Share this Post

Keep Reading

Follow Us

Recent Posts

Table of Contents

Discover our Golf reviews to discover top-tier gear and insights to empower your performance.
Golf Equipment
Explore renowned Golf Courses worldwide. Gain insights, improve your strategy, and enjoy your game.
Golf Courses
Boost your game with our expert Golf Tips. From swing mechanics to strategy, we've got you covered.
Golf Tips
Dive into our Golf Blog: a wealth of knowledge, insights, and stories to inspire and enhance your game.
Previous slide
Next slide
Better Golf nation Facts Infographic

Similar Posts