Do golf balls age – keeping up with technology

I know we can all lose them, but as long as you keep them well, your golf balls should last for years. An answer to the question: ‘do golf balls age?’ Eventually they will. But if you look after them, you should get at least a decade’s worth of use out of them.

Golf balls age well. Avoid extreme temperature, do not store the golf balls in a freezer for example. Heat is terrible as well, and there is one another danger. Don’t leave your golf balls in the car on the back-shelf cooking away. That will do them no good at all.

The structure of a golf ball

There are various ways to construct a golf ball, and this does affect how long they will last.

Here is a video from the factory floor showing just how the process works.

Many balls consist of a two-piece structure. These, no surprise, are often called two-piece balls. They have a solid rubber core with a plastic cover. Manufacturers of these balls say they should easily last seven years. Two-piece balls are popular with beginners and high handicappers. They are great for getting distance even when the golfer’s swing speed is not very fast.

The more experienced players tend to prefer three-piece balls. These are more complex to construct and so tend to be more expensive.

Construction of a three-piece golf ball

It is a complex manufacturing process with more than eighty steps and inspections at every stage. The ball has a molded core made of various blended rubber components. A three-piece ball has two compression molded hemispheres. These are molded around the base, and the dimples form as part of the process. Then any rough spots are removed, and paint is applied to the ball to ensure it is smooth. Finally, it is repainted with a resilient and high-gloss material to ensure it does not scuff mark or damage.

With the development of technology, there are now four-piece and even five-piece balls. Professionals often favor these.

Storing your golf balls

There is a myth that golf balls should be kept in a fridge or even a freezer. It is wrong. Too low temperatures can damage the balls. Ideally, you should store them at average temperatures in a dry environment. It is okay to keep them in your basement or garage, at least in most climates.

Here is a short video on storing your golf balls in the winter.

If your golf balls do get very cold, say you left them in the garage, and there was an unexpected cold snap, then do not worry. You should bring them back to room temperature slowly. A good rule of thumb is to not expose the balls to any temperature higher than that in which you feel comfortable. So, a nice warm room and some patience is the best recipe here. One thing you definitely should not do is hit the ball when it is freezing. It will not help the ball, your golf club or your game. 

You will damage your golf balls if you expose them to very high temperatures. The covers of most golf balls are a form of plastic. And this will deform, or even melt if subjected to high temperatures. If the ball is too hot and you hit it with a golf club, you risk permanently marking or denting the ball. It will then be useless as it will not travel straight and true.

If golf balls do not age should I stick with my old ones?

Wear and tear are not the only reason to buy a new set of golf balls. We know that golf, more than any other sport, invests in technology. Just as with golf clubs, golf ball technology is continually working to produce a better product. If you notice that the performance of your regular golfing partners is slowly leaving you behind it could be because they have newer, better golf balls.

Why do golf balls have dimples?

Notice how when you hit a golf ball it rises in the air in a graceful arc. One reason it can do that is due to the dimples on the ball. They reduce the drag of the air as the ball moves through it. With the dimples, there is a thin and moving layer of air on the ball’s surface which means the ball goes further. Experts say that the ball would only travel about half as far if it did not have dimples.

What is ball compression?

A golf ball is under a lot of force, so we need to know what happens when you hit it. The ball squashes when the golf club hits it, and this is called ‘compression’ Compression between different balls varies a lot, between a factor of forty and one hundred. Low compression balls are better for beginners as they travel further with less force. High compression balls need more precision and strength to get them to move, but the golfer has more control over the ball.

Damage to your golf ball.

Because golf is played outside, through hazards and in all weathers, golf balls can get damaged. It is worth checking every time you finish playing to make sure all your balls are still good for play. So, check for scuff marks and cut marks. Cut marks can happen if you have mishit the ball or if the ball has gone into the rough and hit a stone, for example. A damaged ball will not travel well, so if you notice damage, you will need to replace it.

Scuff marks occur when you hit a hazard or sometimes when you make a shot with a wedge club. Even if you notice a scrape, this does not mean the ball is useless. If you have a scuffed ball, clean it so you can see how damaged it is. If the ball is distorted or misshapen, it is time to retire it. But if the structure still looks okay then try this. Take it with you the next time you go out to practice and hit a few easy shots so you can see if it is still behaving itself.

A thin iron shot can cut into the ball. It is a rare occurrence but dangerous if it does happen., Go through this routine. Clean the ball so that you can assess the damage. Check to see if the face of the ball is deformed. If it no longer looks round, then it is probably useless. If it feels okay take it out the next time, you are on the practice green. Make a few easy shots and see if it is still playing true.

Finding lost balls

Now you know how to store golf balls and how to assess the damage. But the truth is you will lose more balls than you will ever damage. I am going to finish up with a few tips to help you find lost balls. Of course, you are more likely to win if you get your ball, so that’s good as well!

  1. Watch where the ball goes. It’s a natural reaction, but if you mis-hit don’t turn away and put your head in your hands. Keep your eye on the ball so that you can follow its flight. Then you will have a rough idea where it has landed up.
  2. Notice the landmarks where you think the ball has landed. You want to be in roughly the right area to find the ball. So, follow its flight and the observe any noticeable natural features near where it lands: a particular tree or bush for example. Also, watch for the bounce of the ball, it may not be where it first fell.
  3. Use common sense. A mis-hit is unlikely to go as far as a good shot, so your ball is likely to be nearer to you then you think.
  4. Help others, and they will help you. Be a generous player. Help your buddies when they lose a ball, and they will help you when you are in need.
  5. Remember the rules when you find the ball. In that moment of delight when you finally spot your ball, keep calm and remember the rules of the game. You will incur a penalty if you illegally move the ball. So strategic thinking and a cool head are needed.

Do golf balls age conclusion

A set of good quality golf balls should last you a long time. You are more likely to lose them than you are to wear them out. But there are other reasons to treat yourself to a new set of golf balls. Technology is hot in the golf ball world at the moment with new materials such as graphene used in golf ball construction. Golf manufacturers Callaway are at the leading edge here.