How Long Does a Golf Ball Last?

This week’s Q&A is an excerpt from Dear Frank…Answers to 100 of your Golf Equipment Questions


Dear Frank,
With the price of tour quality balls now $4.00/ each or more, how long should you play with the same one without a loss in performance, assuming it is not cut or spent too much time on the cart path? – Jon

The premium balls today are all three or four piece balls. They are no longer made with rubber windings—they are all made with solid cores. These do not wear out or change in performance properties for a very long time. You can probably play with one of these balls for at least twenty rounds or more on condition that the cover surface on the ball is not scuffed or damaged in any way. 

In some of the balls used on tour, the final or outer cover is only about .020 inches thick. This is equivalent to the thickness of two standard business cards. It is this layer that influences the performance around the greens. Most importantly, it is in this final outer cover, in which the dimples are molded.

Without dimples, a ball which normally flies 260 yards, will only travel 130 yards. So this thin layer is very important. Also, remember to clean your ball whenever possible as dirt in the dimples will affect performance.

Today’s balls will perform well until the surface gets scuffed or it doesn’t listen to you and you lose it.


7 thoughts on “How Long Does a Golf Ball Last?

  1. The best time to retire a ball is after it takes a huge hop off an asphalt cart path, the scar from a cart path will affect your ball’s flight. Less distance, more sideways flight.
    Rule 5-3 permits a player to substitute another ball during the play of a hole when his original ball has become unfit for play during the play of that hole.

  2. I have never formed any kind of bond with a golf ball. They do not maintain a relationship for much more than a few holes. Then the disappear, probably looking for a more meaningful relationship.

  3. You have to talk to your ball before you hit it. Once the wind gets in it’s ears it can’t hear you. Unless it is a teen age ball, then it will never listen.

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