Performance of Scuffed Golf Balls

Dear Frank,
I know the pros change balls often during a round.  I cannot afford to buy balls every month, so I play scuffed balls until they are lost or in the water.  Does playing scuffed balls affect my game that much?  I’m a 17 handicap.

You will certainly see the difference in performance between scuffed golf balls and new, clean, unblemished golf balls.

This obviously depends on how badly they have been scuffed. Many times on the driving range you come across a ball which has been through the ball washer about as many times as we have been misled by politicians. This causes the surface to be less than perfect with worn down dimples. The aerodynamics are completely ruined and the ball’s trajectory is erratic and the distance is significantly shorter than the newer range balls.

A scuffed ball affects the air flow over the ball and it will not perform as designed. In fact if some dimples – five or six on one side of the ball —  are shallower than the others,  by as little as 0.002 of an inch (the width of a human hair) the ball flight may be affected by as much as 3 to 5 yards off line on a 225 yard drive — a long par three.

For most of us 3 to 5  yards off line will not make too much difference and we may not even notice it, except for that one time when everything comes together and we make absolutely perfect contact. Three to five yards may be the difference between buying drinks for those in the club house or not. This may save you some money but deprive you of one of the most wonderful experiences in golf. As an aside, the odds of making a hole in one are significantly better than winning the lottery.

For the reason above I suggest that you clean your golf ball ‘gently’ and as often as you can without wearing down the surface — mud in a few dimples will affect the ball flight – and if the ball is scuffed badly then find a place for it in the shag bag.

Normally a hard Surlyn® cover will resist scuffing from a cart path or vicious sand shot but will also reduce your potential to spin the ball on a wedge shot from just off the green.


One thought on “Performance of Scuffed Golf Balls

  1. Attitude: Enjoy ! The cost of the golf ball is the smallest expense of a round. One beer from the cart costs more than a new ball. Tee up a new ball each round. Tee up a new ball over the water hazard. Thrill to the success !

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