Golf Ball Performance – When do You Start Noticing a Performance Drop?

Modern golf balls are extremely durable, especially when you compare them to golf balls of years past. However, it’s not uncommon to see golfers who are at the top of their game to put several balls into play for each round on tour. It makes you wonder, how long does a golf ball usually last, and should you be swapping them out? So the questions remains, how long can you get away with using the same golf ball before performance levels drop? Let’s dive into the answer below.

Golf Ball Materials

The materials your golf ball has in the makeup consist of the core and the outer layer. The more durable these materials are, the longer you could potentially use the golf ball without swapping it out.


The cover on the golf ball is the outer shell. This is susceptible to damage. The covers usually consist of a soft urethane material or a firm ionomer material. The harder cover material is better at resisting abrasion and cutting from bad shots. It also resists impacts with hard surfaces better. Premium multilayer balls usually have urethane covers that resist cuts but are more prone to scuffing.


Today’s golf balls have cores that have a polymer material in them that are much more durable and consistent when you compare them to the liquid centers and rubber bands of older golf balls. They can survive high-speed strikes without losing their resistance levels or changing shape.

How Long Golf Balls Last

Generally speaking, you can expect to get roughly seven rounds out of each golf ball before you see the performance levels start to drop off. This will vary depending on what happens to the ball. If you catch your ball on a path or tree and it gets scuffed, the number of rounds you’ll get will drop. If you get a mark on your golf ball that is bigger than a dime, or one that changes the surface texture, you need to replace the ball. However, you can still use it to practice afterward.

If you are going to try and change your ball out mid-round, you want to do it after you finish the hole. If you don’t and the ball isn’t unfit to play, you could get a two-shot penalty during stroke play.

Also, it’s important to think about where you typically store your golf balls. Putting them in a place with excessive cold or heat will impact your golf ball’s performance over time. Generally speaking, you should store them at room temperature for five to 10 years.

How to Test if Your Golf Ball is Still Good

There are a few ways that you can test if your golf ball is still good. They include:

The Bounce Test

Take a new golf ball and an older golf ball and bounce the new ball next to the older one. You can do this on any hard surface in your home, and you want to monitor the ways the ball moves. The newer ball will usually have more bounce since you’ve never used it before, but the older ball should bounce right with it. If they both make it to the same height, your older golf ball is okay. Make sure you drop them from the same distance.

The Float Test

Your golf ball should float in saltwater. You’ll need to get or make a few cups of saltwater. To make it, you want to carefully measure out the salt to make a saltwater equivalent. Drop the ball into the saltwater and leave it for a few minutes. If the cover is still intact, there should be no leaking into the golf ball’s interior. If you see air bubbles coming up or the ball starts to sink, this is a sign that there is a microfracture in the cover. These areas are small enough to be almost impossible to see, unlike a full-on split. Microfractures can ruin the ball’s compression rating.

Consider Golf Colleges Today

If you’re interested in learning more about golf equipment and how you can contribute to the growing demand of the industry, consider pursuing a golf management degree. You’ll learn the fundamentals of the game as well as.