Are Used Golf Balls As Good As New? – Golf Myths Unplugged

used-golf-ball-myths

Golf Is Expensive

Golf is expensive.  Damned expensive.  Not only do you spend a small fortune buying clubs, you pay $20, $50, $100, or more on green fees every time you play.  But the worst part is golf balls.  Hit it into the drink and not only does your score explode, but you’re a few dollars poorer.

Thankfully, it’s easy to save money on golf balls.  Sites like LostGolfBalls.com find all the balls that we hit into the ponds and forests and sell them at a huge discount.  The question is, do they actually perform like new ones?  We put that to the test in this edition of Golf Myths Unplugged.

The Myths

Myth #1 – Used golf balls feel as good as new

Myth #2 -Used golf balls perform like new with a wedge

Myth #3 – Used golf balls perform like new with an iron

Myth #4 – Used golf balls perform like new with a driver

How We Tested

In this test, we evaluated four different kinds of used golf balls.  We tested what LostGolfBalls.com calls the AAAAA (the best), AAAA (mid grade), AAA (low grade), and Refinished.  We tested each of these qualities of Titleist ProV1 against brand new ProV1 balls.

To evaluate feel, our testers hit putts with their eyes closed, not knowing whether they were hitting a new or used ball.  They were asked to report any feel differences they noticed.

For the performance testing, we hit 50 quality shots with each grade of ball.  We rotated through a dozen balls of each grade, and only used data from swings that fell within our parameters for strike quality, club speed, club path, and face angle.

All testing was done with the help of Club Champion.

Club Champ Banner 1

The Results

1

In our feel testing, no one was able to distinguish between the new, used, or refinished golf balls.

Our testers were allowed to hit as many putts as they wanted.  Most of them stated that every ball they hit felt the same.  There were a couple of testers who said that some balls felt different, but there was no correlation with the grade of golf ball.  Anecdotally, the testers’ perceptions of the ball simply changed when they mishit a putt.

2

On a 30 yard pitch shot, we found no consistent difference between new and used golf balls.  Not only was the launch monitor data nearly identical when averaged across fifty shots, there was no discernible difference in the consistency of the performance.

3

Our iron testing was done with a full swing with a 7I.  Just as with the wedge, we found no difference between new, used, and refinished golf balls.

There is one caveat that I would offer.  When you get into the lowest grade of used ball (what LostGolfBalls calls “AAA”), some of the balls are scuffed.  It is possible that outdoors, especially with wind, the scuffs could affect performance.

4

Even after seeing the used golf balls match the new ones with the wedge and iron, there was skepticism about whether they could perform equally with the driver.  Specifically, we were curious to see whether the ball speed and smash factor of the used balls would match the new ones.

Our skepticism was misplaced: the used and refinished golf balls equaled the performance of the new balls with regard to ball speed, smash factor, and spin off the driver.  I would offer the same caveat as I did with the iron, but if you’re using a first or second tier used ball, this shouldn’t be a concern.

Conclusion

Golf isn’t going to become a cheap game anytime soon, but thanks to high quality direct-to-consumer golf balls (learn more HERE) and the ability to buy used golf balls, you can make it a little less expensive.  If you’re flexible about the brand of ball you play, you can save 50% or more on tour quality golf balls.

The Data

used-ball-data

The following two tabs change content below.

Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

Latest posts by Matt Saternus (see all)

8 Comments

  1. Nice test Matt.

    I have been waiting for something like this. I have been using used golf balls 4 years now. I usually buy AAA quality ones but when my game improved last year I switched to AAAA and AAAAA just because I like to see new looking golf balls rather than the scuffed and slightly discolored ones.

    I cannot see or feel any difference using new golf balls when I bought a box of practice Pro V1’s one time this summer, so I continued to get the used ones. One thing though is I do not like the refinished ones, just because they look off to me. Though on your test they performed the same with the others. But that’s just me.

    The used golf balls work for me well and I am not going to play the PGA anytime soon. But I do play a competitive league and I have won quite a few games this year using used Titleist NXT Tour S.

  2. Good article. Now add into the mix the New Costco Kirkland Signature. At $15 a dozen they are coming in cheaper than some used balls.

  3. Very interesting. Thanks

  4. Thanks for confirming my own experience with used balls. I really think it’s the “snob” factor that keeps more players from using the “AAAA” used balls.
    Upon reflection I think that “Snob” factor is a wonderful thing…they buy and lose my next order for me. Is this a great game or what?

  5. I’ve carried out this experiment myself this year Matt and came to the same conclusion.
    Other than the feel good factor of playing with a new ball …it makes no difference. I now keep my eye on the bargain bucket in the pro shop! Only bought one box of balls this year and that was just to try out the Callaway truvis …have you thought of testing them against conventional balls, that would be an interesting test?

    • Paul,

      Are you suggesting testing the TruVis against conventional balls? For performance or visibility?

      Best,

      Matt

  6. Visibility for putting Matt… yes against unmarked balls, are they a gimmick or do they really improve ball to hole control?

    • Paul,

      My understanding is that the Tru Vis is designed to help you track and find your ball, not to improve your putting.

      Best,

      Matt