Are Recycled Golf Balls Any Good?


Have you ever wondered about used golf balls?

It is estimated that more than 500 million to 750 million new golf balls are sold every year on a worldwide basis. It is also estimated that somewhere between 125 million and 500+ million recycled or second-hand balls are recovered and sold to golfers worldwide – golf balls primarily culled from ponds and lakes on golf courses (a.k.a. “Lake Balls”). It is not known how many additional Lake Balls are retrieved and played by ordinary golfers during the course of their rounds. And while the exact number of used balls sold in the market remains elusive, what is clear is that billions of new balls have entered play over the past few years around the world; and many of those end up lost and found as Lake Balls that are teed up again and again.

Besides the freebie a player might find in the rough, woods or edge of a pond, there is an active market for buying and selling recycled golf balls – often at a discount of up to 50% off of retail.

So, with the opportunity to pay such a discount, are these balls a good choice?

An independent study by summarizes the results of expert data gathering and analysis on this topic including bench and ballistics testing of recycled golf balls (in particular “lake balls”) golf balls, marketed as “highest quality” or “near” new. In summary, this study found No Appreciable Differences in performance and playability factors (for most players) for this sample of “highest quality” or “near new” recycled balls versus the performance for those balls purchased new.

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Are Recycled Golf Balls Any Good?

This recent independent by evaluated three popular Tour-level balls from 2007 and 2008 model years, including the Titleist Pro V1x (2007), the Bridgestone Tour B330 (2007) and the Nike ONE Platinum (2008). Brand new golf balls straight from the package were compared to a random sample of recycled balls acquired from a leading retailer who sources most of their balls from ponds and lakes.

Recycled Golf Balls

Testing included compression and cover hardness testing as well as weight testing and roundness testing. Ballistics testing was conducted with the Driver, 6-Iron and Sand Wedge using a swing robot in controlled conditions and a launch monitor to gather spin, launch angle and ball speed variable used in establishing flight characteristics and distance.

Additional study elements focused on golfer perceptions on performance value.

In summary, the results from the sample testing on bench testing and ballistics/flight factors found NO APPRECIABLE DIFFERENCE between these “highest quality” recycled balls, from this drawn sample of recycled golf balls, versus those sourced new. More details are available in the white paper.

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