Take a moment to think about some of the most important accessories that are required in order to enjoy a game of golf. The clubs, your carrying bag, the proper attire, and a pair of golfing gloves will often come to mind. However, all of these objects would be utterly useless if you forget to bring along the balls. While balls are provided from a number of manufacturers, the notion that they differ in regards to weight or dimensions is a misconception. On the contrary, they are all vetted to the highest of standards in order to ensure stable flight, accuracy and maximum distance. However, what about used golf balls?
This is an important question, as it is not entirely uncommon to literally “fish” balls out of nearby lakes and use them again. Others will instead navigate to online portals such as eBay and Amazon in order to purchase reclaimed balls in bulk. Is this a good idea? Are there any difference between recovered balls and their new counterparts? let us take a look at both sides of the coin as well as a handful of pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision.
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Why is Buying Lake Balls a Popular Option?
One of the main reasons why retrieved golf balls are purchased involves the fact that they are much cheaper than new models. This makes sense for those who are novices, as they might not want to spend a great deal of money while honing their skills. We need to remember that other accessories such as clubs are not exactly cheap, so skimping on a set of golf balls could represent a pragmatic strategy.
Another critical factor involves how often balls are lost in the rough. After all, it makes little sense to purchase a bundle of high-quality golf balls if the majority will go missing after a few rounds. When we take into account that a box of new balls can cost £35 pounds or more, it becomes clear why lake balls could represent a fiscally prudent choice.
How are Lake Balls Processed and Graded?
We should make it a point to note that these balls are not simply collected, thrown into a bag and subsequently passed on to players. Companies which distribute lake balls will first perform an extensive cleaning process in order to effectively remove any dirt and debris. Once the balls are thoroughly dried, they will be graded based upon their characteristics. The firm then offers the balls to the respective course in question; both parties splitting the profits resulting from sales to members. This is a beneficial situation for everyone involved. The club is provided with an additional source of revenue and the players will be able to leverage a cost-effective alternative.
Are There Any Performance Issues?
This is arguably the most important question, as players always want to maintain important metrics such as distance and accuracy while on the course. So, might recovered golf balls perform at less-than-perfect levels? The answers could very well surprise you.
Several scientific studies have been undertaken in recent years to determine what (if any) effects submersion in a lake for an extended period of time. One firm examined balls that had remained beneath the water for progressively longer time frames:
- One month
- Three months
- Five months
Researchers then tested each ball in order to observe variables such as loft, distance, roll, and accuracy. Many would believe that the balls remaining submerged for longer periods of time would score worse. On the contrary, there were no noticeable differences between any group. It should also be pointed out that these lake balls were also compared with the performance attributed to new models. Once again, no appreciable drawbacks were noted.
The only possible variable that was not taken into account involves extremely long periods of time. For instance, what of you decide to purchase lake balls that were submerged for six months or more? Might the polymer surface begin to degrade? Would prolonged exposure to water (and colder temperatures) impact the bounce of the ball or how far it rolls on the green? Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are not entirely clear. It will be interesting to see if any more longitudinal studies can shed some light upon such situations in the future.
Other Issues With Lake Golf Balls
Up until this point, we have only addressed issues associated with how water might effect the performance of lake golf balls. It has already been established that few differences were noted. However, we have not yet examine other issues attributed to reclaimed balls. What about mud, debris and other imperfections that might be present?
This is when aerodynamics comes into play. Without getting overly technical, there is no doubt that any mud that happens to be caked on the surface of a ball will alter its flight path. The same holds true if mud has filled in the dimples found around its exterior. While we might only be speaking about fractions of a millimetre per yard, what if this figure is multiplied by 200 yards or more? You could easily sacrifice accuracy and loft as distance increases. Additionally, an imperfect ball will not roll straight. This could cause you to sacrifice your precision during a chip shot or when putting. The main question is whether or not you feel that such risks are worth it. The good news is that most professional cleaned balls will not encounter these issues, as they would otherwise tarnish the reputation of the provider and the club.
What About Refinished Lake Golf Balls?
There can be times when a supplier refinishes the entire surface of a ball that has been reclaimed from a lake. While this might ensure that no imperfections are present, another problem may arise. It is nearly impossible to determine the original manufacturer. for instance, those who are accustomed to models such as a ProV 1 could very well find that the used ball does not perform as well or exhibit the same “feel”. Although this might be a negligible concern for some, others are sticklers in terms of their perceived levels of comfort while on the course.
Recovered Lake Golf Balls Versus New Purchases: The Pros and Cons
We have covered a significant amount of information throughout this article. This is why it is a good idea to summarise our findings with the help of a quick comparison. Here are some of the main benefits associated with reclaimed lake golf balls:
- They are substantially cheaper than new models (important if you are on a limited budget).
- They can be easily purchased online or even within the on-site pro shop.
- Studies have found little to no differences in terms of distance or accuracy.
- Used balls that become lost will not represent as much of a financial burden on the player.
- These might represent excellent options if you are new to the game.
Having said this, it is only fair to not some possible drawback associated with used lake golf balls:
- Their quality can never be completed guaranteed.
- Studies illustrating the effects of long-term submersion have not yet been undertaken.
- Even small imperfections or debris can affect their flight path and distance.
- As these balls may exhibit an off-white colour, they can be more difficult to find if they happen to fall into the rough.
- It is impossible to know the manufacturer if the ball has been completely refinished.
So, is buying lake balls a viable option? The answer will ultimately depend upon your preferences and skill level. Furthermore, you will need to compare the price of a new box and a bundle of used balls. Is there a significant difference? If you do indeed decide to use reclaimed balls, it is a good idea to speak with your club (or the firm in question) in order to determine exactly how the surfaces are cleaned as well as if any guarantees are provided. Should you instead employ the services of an online distributor, it is wise to obtain the opinions of previous customers. Firms associated with a fair amount of negative reviews should obviously be avoided.
It is likely that the debate addressing reclaimed and new balls will continue for some time into the foreseeable future. The good news is that the technology behind their production will likewise advance. As more durable materials are used, the chances are high that the balls themselves will be able to stand up to a significant amount of wear and tear. In other words, you might not need to purchase an entirely new set every few weeks. As always, please feel free to refer back to this article for future guidance as well as to examine the other posts throughout this website for additional tips and tricks from professionals.