Do Golf Balls Go Bad?

Do Golf Balls Go Bad?

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If you’re like most golfers, you’ve probably amassed quite a collection of golf balls over the years. Some might be brand new, still gleaming in their packaging, while others may have seen better days. But a question that frequently arises is, “Do golf balls go bad?” You’ve asked, and we’re here to answer. So, buckle up for an in-depth exploration into the lifespan and quality of golf balls.

The Myth and Reality

Many myths circulate in the golfing world about the shelf life of golf balls. Some players claim that old balls lose their elasticity and should be replaced every year, while others swear that a good ball is timeless. 

The truth? Quality golf balls from reputable manufacturers like Titleist, Callaway, and TaylorMade are designed to last. Under normal storage conditions, a new golf ball can last several years without any significant degradation in performance.

Factors That Impact Golf Ball Shelf Life

Several factors can significantly impact how long your golf balls remain in tip-top condition:

1. Storage Conditions

Exposure to extreme conditions like high humidity, heat, or cold can affect the rubber and other synthetic materials that make up a golf ball. Always store your golf balls in a cool, dry place to ensure longevity.

2. Frequency of Use

Like any sporting equipment, the more frequently you use a golf ball, the quicker it will wear out. Professional players may replace their balls every few rounds, while casual players might find their balls last a whole season.

3. Cover Integrity

Damage to the outer cover, often from striking trees, rocks, or cart paths, will impact the ball’s performance more than age. A ball with a compromised cover should be replaced immediately.

4. Core Material

The material inside the golf ball can also deteriorate over time, especially in cheaper, lower-quality balls. High-quality balls are more resilient and can maintain their performance characteristics longer.

Tests to Check Golf Ball Quality

How can you tell if your golf balls are still good? Here are some quick tests:

  • Visual Inspection: Check for any nicks, cuts, or scuffs. Damaged balls should be replaced.
  • Bounce Test: Drop the ball from about 6 feet high onto a hard surface. If it bounces back up reasonably high, it’s still good to go.
  • Water Submersion Test: Submerge the ball in water for about 12-24 hours. If it remains the same size, it’s still usable.

Golf Balls Vs. Age – What You Should Know

So, how long is too long when it comes to golf balls? 

  • New Balls: As long as they are stored properly, new golf balls in their original packaging can last 5-7 years without any notable decline in performance.
  • Used Balls: A gently used, top-quality golf ball can easily last several rounds for the average player without losing its integrity. If it shows no signs of wear and tear, keep using it.
  • Aged Balls: Balls older than 7-10 years, or those stored improperly, should be tested for performance before they are used in any serious play.


Can I use vintage golf balls?

  • Vintage balls are great for nostalgia but not for performance. The materials and design are outdated, affecting their playability.

Do different brands age differently?

  • Quality matters. Premium brands tend to hold up better over time compared to budget brands.

How often should I change my golf balls?

  • Pros switch balls every few rounds, but amateur golfers can get good performance for an entire season from a high-quality ball, assuming no damage.


So, do golf balls go bad? The short answer is yes, but it takes quite a long time, and the process can be accelerated by poor storage and frequent use. High-quality golf balls, when stored correctly and used sensibly, can last for many years and several rounds of golf. If you’re looking to purchase golf balls that stand the test of time, check out our recommendations on the Best Golf Balls of 2023.