Can Golf Balls Get Waterlogged? (Downsides Explained)

As a seasoned golf coach who’s seen more than my fair share of golf balls take the plunge into watery graves, I’ve often been asked, “Do golf balls get waterlogged?” 

Well, dear golfer, grab your favorite club, and let’s tee off into this soggy inquiry. I’ve got all the details for you here.

The Myth of the Waterlogged Golf Ball

First off, let’s tackle the myth head-on. Can golf balls really get waterlogged? The short answer is yes, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think. 

Modern golf balls are designed to be water-resistant, but they’re not entirely impervious to water. The extent to which a golf ball can become waterlogged depends on its construction and how long it’s been submerged.

The Anatomy of a Golf Ball & Water’s Effect On It

To understand why, let’s break down what’s inside a golf ball. 

Most balls are constructed with a core, one or more layers of material, and a tough outer shell. 

The core is usually made of rubber, and the outer layers are designed to give the ball its desired spin and feel.

The outer shell is typically made of durable materials like Surlyn or urethane, which are resistant to water penetration.

However, no warrior is without its chink in the armor. Over time, tiny imperfections in the ball’s surface, such as cuts or scratches, can allow water to seep in. 

If a ball has been lounging in a pond for a few months, it can definitely soak up enough water to affect its weight and performance.

The Impact on Performance

A waterlogged ball can have a lower compression rating, leading to less bounce off the club face and a decrease in distance. 

It might also affect the ball’s balance, causing it to fly in unpredictable patterns. Not exactly what you want when you’re trying to impress your buddies on the 18th hole!

Keeping Your Balls Dry

The best way to prevent your golf balls from getting waterlogged is, unsurprisingly, to keep them out of the water. 

Easier said than done, right? Here’s a hot tip: aim for the greens, not the blues!

DIY Tests to Check for Water Damage in Golf Balls

Curious if your golf ball has taken on water after a daring escape from a pond? 

While we can’t all have lab equipment in our backyards, there are a couple of simple DIY tests you can perform at home to get a sense of your ball’s condition.

The Saltwater Float Test:

This test leverages the principle that saltwater is denser than fresh water. Mix a generous amount of salt into a glass of water until no more can dissolve. 

Drop your golf ball in. A healthy ball will sink, but if it floats or hovers above the bottom, it might indicate water has seeped in, affecting its density.

The Balance Test:

For this test, you’ll need a very flat and smooth surface. Place your golf ball on it and give it a gentle spin. Watch closely as it rotates. 

A waterlogged ball might wobble or spin unevenly due to the uneven distribution of water inside. In contrast, a ball in good condition should spin smoothly.

These tests aren’t foolproof but can give you a good indication of whether it’s time to retire your ball.

Tips for Golf Ball Maintenance

Keeping your golf balls in tip-top shape is key to ensuring consistent performance on the course.

Here are some straightforward tips to help you maintain your golf balls, ensuring they’re always ready for action:

Regular Cleaning:

Dirt and grime can affect a ball’s flight path and spin. Clean your balls after every game by gently washing them in warm, soapy water and scrubbing lightly with a soft brush or cloth.

Rinse thoroughly and dry.

Inspect for Damage:

Before and after each game, inspect your golf balls for cuts, scratches, or other damages. Even minor imperfections can significantly impact performance.

If a ball is visibly damaged, it might be time to retire it from play.

Proper Storage:

Store your golf balls in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Extreme temperatures and moisture can affect the materials of the ball, leading to potential performance issues over time.

Rotate Your Balls:

Just like tires, golf balls can benefit from being rotated out of play. If you have a few favorites, make sure you’re not overusing a single ball.

This will help extend the life and performance of all your golf balls.

Beef’s Takeaways: 

Golf balls can last 10 years or more in the right environment. Of course, quality balls and brands can be more durable, and certain cover types will last longer. 

The real key is keeping track of your balls and trying not to hit trees, rocks, etc. When avoided, good golf balls can last for multiple rounds. Pro golfers will swap out their balls more frequently, as scuff marks do affect performance.

FAQs About Waterlogged Golf Balls

How long does it take for a golf ball to get waterlogged?

It depends on the ball’s construction and the condition of its outer shell. A ball with no visible damage might never get waterlogged, while one with cuts could soak up water in a few weeks or months.

Can waterlogged golf balls be restored?

Once a ball has taken on water, there’s no practical way to “dry it out” and restore its original performance. It’s best to consider it a lost cause and a noble sacrifice to the golf gods.

Is there a way to tell if a ball is waterlogged without playing it?

Without sophisticated equipment, it’s tough to tell. However, if a ball feels heavier than usual or shows visible signs of damage, it might have taken on water.


While golf balls can get waterlogged, the risk is relatively low with modern balls unless they spend a significant amount of time submerged. 

Still, the best strategy to keep your balls performing at their peak is to avoid water hazards altogether. Remember, the only thing we want getting wet is our appetite for more golf!

Ollie Neave

Professional Golf Player and Coach

Ollie Neave

AKA Aussie Beef Golf, One of Australia’s Busiest Golf Coaches.

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