Can Golf Balls Get Waterlogged?

Can Golf Balls Get Waterlogged?

You are here to know whether a golf ball can get waterlogged. Well, in a word, yes. Hold on a second though, because it is not that simple.

It can take a significant length of time submerged in water for a golf ball to get waterlogged. Even then, these golf balls are not going to be immediately useless.

We will be discussing how a golf ball gets waterlogged and what affect it will have on overall performance. Hopefully this article will shed some light on lake balls and give you some handy advice on when a golf ball might be past its best.

How quickly does a golf ball get waterlogged?

There are several articles that claim to have researched this, but strangely none of them can agree on a specific answer. Sadly, the truth is that the results of the research seems to depend on whether the company sells new or used golf balls.

An article by Vice, a well known golf ball manufacturer, states that after twelve hours submerged in water the cover of a golf ball will begin to allow water through its surface.

Whereas, an article from Golf Ball Divers, who sell lake balls, conducted a study that showed golf balls submerged in water for three months show almost identical performance to brand new ones.

Confusing, right? Well, the truth is that these articles are probably both correct.

For the research conducted by Golf Ball Divers they used new ‘out of the box’ golf balls for their testing. But, how many golf balls that end up in a lake are likely to be in completely new condition? Probably very few.

A golf ball that shows any sign of exterior imperfections through scuffing or cracking will begin to take in water after roughly 12 hours submerged. It can take just a single golf shot to cause micro cracks or scuffing on a golf ball, but if you have been using it more than one round it almost certainly has some wear. 

So, if you can reach your golf ball in a stream then it is not going to be waterlogged. However, if you fish an old ball out of a lake then chances are there will be at least some water inside.

How does water affect a golf ball's performance?

When a golf ball begins to take in water, the liquid will seep through into the ball’s core. This causes the core to become slightly heavier and lose compression. The result is a loss of distance.

The longer that a ball spends in water the more damaged the core will become and the more distance you are likely to lose. 

Depending on how much water has got through into the golf ball this could be a significant yardage difference. How much yardage will completely depend on the specific golfer, golf ball and amount of water, but you could be talking 30+ yards in extreme cases.

Performance on short game shots and around the greens are less likely to be affected by waterlogging. Although the ball could feel slightly heavier the overall performance will be similar.

Are lake balls any good?

When it comes to buying golf balls on a tight budget, many golfers will look at lake balls. But, are they worth the reduced cost? 

This will depend on how seriously you take your golf and what you plan on using the balls for.

Lake balls can be perfect for short game practice or on a driving range. Alternatively, if you do not mind sacrificing some yards during social golf then lake balls are probably okay.

Competitive golfers, especially low handicappers, should avoid lake balls. Golf is hard enough without potentially giving up significant distance just because of the ball you are using.

A lot of the time when you buy lake balls they will not specify how long the balls have been in the lake before being recovered. So, quite often with lake balls you will find it is a lottery as to how well it performs compared with a new ball. Personally, it is not a chance I would take.

Final Thought

Hopefully this article has helped to explain how golf balls can get waterlogged and the effect it has on their performance. Overall, there are more studies that need to be done on this topic to find a conclusive result. However, our research suggested most sources agree that unless brand new golf balls will lose distance after being submerged in water for a long period of time.

We are also not saying you should never use lake balls. There will be a large percentage of golfers that do not mind sacrificing some distance for cheap golf balls, especially during social golf. If you are just a casual recreation golfer, a waterlogged golf ball might not even be that noticeable to your performance.

My advice would be for competitive golfers to stick with using new golf balls though. You can find some excellent new golf balls at affordable prices, costing similar to lake balls anyway. New golf balls will offer far more reliable performance and give you consistently better results.

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