When it comes to golf, everyone has their preferred type of golf ball. For some, it’s all about the brand, and for others, it might be about the particular model. However, have you ever considered giving lake golf balls a chance?
What are Lake Golf balls?
Simply put, lake golf balls are those that have been retrieved from the water hazards on golf courses. These balls are usually collected, cleaned, graded, and then resold at a fraction of their original cost. But despite their humble origins, lake balls have become the subject of much debate among golfers, both professional and amateur.
Some question their performance, while others vouch for their capabilities, stating they’re just as good as brand-new balls. The mystery surrounding these submerged treasures often leads to several misconceptions. So, what’s the real story behind lake and recycled golf balls? Are they worth your money, or should you steer clear?
Testing Titleist Lake Golf Balls v Brand New Ones – Our Lake Ball Review
To settle the debate once and for all, we went ahead and bought two different sets of lake balls from Amazon: 24 Titleist Velocity and 24 Titleist Pro V. Our aim was to rigorously test them in various conditions and see if they are a viable alternative to brand-new balls.
When they arrived I was excited to get them out of the box. They came in a black netted bag and looked sparkling clean and brand new. Some had branding on, the majority just had the normal Titleist branding and markings on though.
We took our batch of recycled golf balls to Ross on Wye golf club, testing them across various golf clubs, from a Ping 1 Wood Driver, Ping Rescue, and aPing 7 Irone through to a Ping 58 Lob Wedge. We also conducted a roll test on the putting green. The results? Intriguing, to say the least, and they might just change your mind about using lake golf balls.
As a 14 handicapper I thought I may not be the barometer for golfing excellence so I asked my scratch golfer friend to get involved in our hugely scientific test.
I would like to say that there was some dramatic revelation or shocking difference between the recycled lake golf balls and the brand new balls… but there wasn’t. The recycled balls that we bought were all Grade A (explained below) and not one went rogue or not as it should. None cracked from being whacked down the driving range, even after I put some into the trees. So there is clearly no resilience issue.
We expected this may be the case on the range, but the putting green was exactly the same. The lake balls went in the hole just as frequently (or in my case, infrequently) as the new balls.
In short, our tests showed that there really is no difference between Grade A Lake Golf balls and brand new golf balls.
Do Lake Balls Fly Straight and True to Where You Are Aiming?
In short, yes! In our test, lake balls fly just the same as any new ball. If you hit them well, they will travel straight and in the direction you are aiming for. If you hit them badly, then they will not go where you want them to go. So, there is no point in trying to blame lake balls for your slice or hook.
Grade AAA lake balls are definitely not the reason you are mishitting shots. We would politely suggest that an hour with a golf coach at your local golf club would be the best way to fix that, rather than blaming the lake balls. If you were to play with a ball that was damaged or the casing was worn down (very rare) then this could have an affect but most lake balls are checked before being dispatched, to make sure that they don’t have any physical or structural damage.
Lake Balls are Good for the Environment
We often talk about sustainability and how we can be more responsible consumers. Here, lake and recycled golf balls present an eco-friendly choice for golfers. Every year, millions of golf balls find their way into ponds, lakes, and other water hazards. By purchasing lake balls, you’re giving these balls a second life, thereby reducing waste. Moreover, retrieving these balls from aquatic environments can also have a positive impact on local ecosystems. Left unchecked, golf balls can release harmful substances into the water, negatively affecting flora and fauna.
The process of cleaning and grading lake balls is also undertaken with a minimum environmental footprint. Specialised machinery removes dirt, algae, and other residues, after which the balls are good as new.
In a world that is increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of consumer choices, opting for lake balls seems like a small but meaningful way to contribute to sustainability efforts.
Lake Golf Balls are Good for Your Wallet
If you’re an avid golfer, you’ll know that the cost of golf balls can quickly add up, especially if you prefer using high-quality brands like Titleist. Here’s where lake and recycled balls provide an economic advantage. Our 24 Titleist Pro V lake balls, for instance, cost significantly less than their brand-new counterparts. We found the performance, as tested at Ross on Wye golf club, to be almost identical, meaning you can maintain your level of play while spending less.
For those who are just getting into the sport, or for more experienced players looking to practice without breaking the bank, lake balls provide an excellent solution. Why spend extra when you can get practically the same performance for less?
Lake Balls Often Have Company Logos and Branding on
During our tests, we found that many of our recycled balls had logos or personal markings on them. Far from being a drawback, we see this as a feature that adds a layer of personality and history to the ball. These markings can be conversation starters, opening the door to friendships and connections on the golf course. Essentially, each lake ball has a story to tell, and using one makes you part of that story. Ok, so maybe that is romanticising it a bit!
Furthermore, based on our testing, these additional markings did not in any way affect the ball’s performance. As mentioned above, the Titleist Velocity and Titleist Pro V balls performed consistently across all the different clubs we used, suggesting that a bit of ink or a small logo is inconsequential when it comes to play.
Do Scuffs and Marks Damage a Golf Ball?
One of the most prevalent concerns about these kinds of recycled balls is the potential damage or scuff marks that they may carry. Our testing showed that slight imperfections on the surface didn’t have any discernible impact on the ball’s performance. We tested the balls using a range of clubs, from drivers to wedges, and found no evidence to suggest that minor scuffs or marks affect playability.
According to golf coach John Williams, “There’s a common misconception that lake golf balls are inferior due to their appearance. In reality, most golfers won’t notice a difference in play between a lake ball and a new ball, especially when it comes to amateur play.”
Explaining the Grading of Lake Golf Balls from “Mint” Through to “Refinished”
If you’ve looked into buying these types of golf balls, you’ll know that they are often graded from “Mint” to “Refinished.” Here’s a breakdown to help you navigate your choices:
- Mint: These balls are in almost new condition, showing no signs of wear or scuffs.
- Near Mint: Slight imperfections might be visible, but these balls are still in excellent condition.
- Good: These may have some visible scuffs or marks but are still perfectly playable.
- Refinished: These balls have been re-coated and look new but are technically the least premium.
Each grade has its price point, offering you a range of options to fit your needs and budget. Based on our testing, even the lower-graded balls performed admirably, making them a sound investment.
Should You Buy Lake Golf Balls?
In short, for all the reasons we have outlined so far, yes. They are much more affordable, our testing of the lake ball purchases that we made from Amazon show they have no real difference in quality from normal balls. The have a strong environmental appeal and are fine for all elements of golf, from driving, short game shots and putting. In our opinion, lake golf balls really are a win-win and you should buy them.
What Other Brands of Lake Golf Balls Can You Buy?
Pretty much every brand and every level. When we did our research we found Calloway, Srixen, Taylor Made and many more available on Amazon. I wish I had known this when I started out learning how to play golf as I used to use Calloway SuperSoft and could have saved myself a fortune!
It is also worth noting that when we were doing our research, the Taylor Made Lake Golf balls represented what we felt were the best value for money compared to their normal pricing range. We will be running a test on these very soon as well, to make sure that the Taylor Made A Grade Lake Golf Balls are as high quality as the Titleist ones that we rigorously tested.
So, there you have it. Our thorough testing suggests that recycled balls are a viable, cost-effective, and eco-friendly alternative to brand-new balls. From Ross on Wye’s driving range to its putting green, lake balls held their own, delivering performance comparable to their newer counterparts. The next time you’re looking to replenish your golf ball stash, you might want to consider fishing for some lake balls.