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What is the Shelf Life of a golfball?


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#1 ktkn

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 06:04 AM

I read somewhere that golfballs have a certain shelf life and their performance diminishes per year. Does anybody know the case to be true/false? If it's true, I can't buy any more golf balls!!

Also, for all you better players, do recycled golf balls perform the same for you guys? I suck, so no difference for me,


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#2 jaskanski

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 06:26 AM

In the old days when they were made from balata rubber - yes. Nowadays with modern synthetic cover of golf balls - no. Some uber anal golfers will probably tell you otherwise, but they're probably the ones with iron covers and spine aligned putters too.

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Edited by jaskanski, 13 February 2011 - 06:43 AM.


#3 golfzlife

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 01:58 PM

I usually loose them before worrying about shelf life :)

#4 WishICouldPlayMoreOften

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 02:49 PM

Solid-core golf balls (of which almost all today's balls are) last almost indefinitely in perfect storage conditions of 70-80 degrees F.  Under typical USA climate in the four-season states, a golf ball will still likely last decades with minimal playing difference.  Scientifically measureable yes, but noticeable to play not likely.  That is with Surlyn covers.

Urethane is softer so the cover does not hold up as well under playing conditions, but normal storage should also have imperceptible playing difference for several years.

It's perfectly ok to buy years worth of balls and play them only when you need.

I bought several dozen golf balls at the end of 2009, and I'm quite confident they'll play as new as most of today's golf balls.  I don't buy into the claims of additional distance and spin so much because it only matters at extremes.  A $50+ dozen simply doesn't play that much better than a $25 or under dozen.

And trust me if balls weren't free to tour golfers or were $500 a dozen (have to make the cost relative to us average people), you wouldn't see them paying the toll either.

#5 j.b.newton

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 03:12 PM

thanks to the OP, i've wondered the same thing.  i want to add a question to his as well:

3-4 early mornings a week, i jog the cart path of my course and will grab a ball or 2 or 3 that players must have "overlooked".  Some are beat to hades or have weathered tremendously so its obvious they are out of shape.  Others though, seem to be pristine. Are these balls (i have no idea how long they have been in the weather) just as good as ones kept in the closet for storage?  Any rules of thumb for those that will actually admit to playing "found" balls?

Thanks for the responses!


#6 budeagle

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 11:35 PM

I will play pristine found balls. I would bet sunlight is harder on golf balls than the weather.

#7 jewofgolf

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 07:23 AM

I have much experience with used balls. Both the balls I find, and the balls I buy on the internet, vary a great deal based on a few factors.

Balls submerged in water or left in direct sunlight have been duds, while balls just sitting on dry ground in the woods seem to be okay.

I think it's fine to play a ball you find as long as it's actually perfect and not in the water.

#8 dbleag

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 07:40 AM

I asked the "shelf-life" question to a manufacturing person from a major ball company.  

He told me that today's golf balls are best in the first 30 days of production, where they will be closest to 100% performance.  Then, after the first 30 days or so, the balls will drop to about 98% performance and will stay there for about 5 years.  He also said that lost balls left in water will deteriorate/decline faster than those lot out of water.

I thought that was pretty good and that, since I didn't know the exact date of production of golf balls that I buy, a five year window was plenty.  

When a ball company comes out with a new version of your favorite ball and reduces the price of the old version, you can stock up!  Just be sure to date the boxes, just in case you get a good 'volume" discount and don't use them as fast as you think you will.

#9 pd570

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 10:07 AM

I'm with some other posters here. It's like trying to determine the shelf life of girl scout cookies. They're never around long enough to find out.

#10 H-Blade

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 12:33 PM

View Postdbleag, on 16 February 2011 - 07:40 AM, said:

I asked the "shelf-life" question to a manufacturing person from a major ball company.  

He told me that today's golf balls are best in the first 30 days of production, where they will be closest to 100% performance.  Then, after the first 30 days or so, the balls will drop to about 98% performance and will stay there for about 5 years.  

Seeing as most but not all golf balls are being built in Asia most new golf balls must be 99%ers...  I doubt the OEM's are air freighting balls to the USA... In addition since they say that balls shouldn't be left in a hot trunk: Are Ocean Freighters climate controlled??  Are golf balls only transported in refrigerated trailers???  :beruo:   oops did I ask too many relevant questions???  My guess is that most every golf ball we buy will already have been expossed to high heat and is over 30 days old... we should just play them...

Actually as a side note last year my dad gave me an unopened box of Top Flite ML (multi layer), theses balls were a 3 piece ball made by Spalding right before they went bankrupt and were purchased by Callaway.  Don't know how the balls performed new but they worked great for me until I lost all 12 of them... wish I could find more of them...  One guy told me that the original Pro V1's were based off of this ball as Spalding's head designer went to Titleist when they went broke... any truth to this???

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#11 sandman31774

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 01:57 PM

as stated above...my golf balls aren't around long enough to determine shelf life lol......but...i have used balls that were several years old and have been stored in my garage with varying temps/humidty etc....it seems they were a little shorter on average....but ..maybe my swing was not as good on the days i used them...but something just seemed not as good..maybe just mental.


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#12 WishICouldPlayMoreOften

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 02:12 PM

The advanced materials and manufacturing processes of golf balls since about 2005 pretty much make shelf-life a nonfactor.  If a ball doesn't play as long as it seems over a period of time, it's likely due to changes in the player's game.  It would take some robotic testing to definitely prove it, but since the science of the materials indicates minimal breakdown, shelf-life is moot.

Weather, on the other hand, can break down golf balls.  The sun wins all battles over time.  It's just that there probably isn't that much time if a golf ball's or player's life.

If you like premium golf balls, buy them in bulk on specials or when discontinued and be comfortable knowing they'll play like new whenever you get to them.

#13 GaijinGolfer

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 04:53 PM

The shelf life of golf balls is about 7 years.  After that they start to break down and their performance slowly diminishes.




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