Hitting the green at your local driving range is a great way to perfect your game and get a good workout in. At most local ranges, the golf balls used are refurbished or refinished ones that are cheaper to use and maintain than buying new ones in bulk. However, should there be concerns with using used refurbished and refinished golf balls as opposed to new?
Are refurbished and refinished golf balls any good? Yes, refurbished and refinished golf balls, if there is no visible damage, are good to use. These golf balls are especially great for the driving ranges and even practice rounds.
Now, before you go out looking to scavenge lost or new golf balls to reuse for your own rounds of golf, there are a few caveats when it comes to refurbishing and refinishing golf balls. The golf balls can be improperly refinished, repaired, or even marked wrong on purpose to try and upsell the ball again. So, if you are in the market for refurbished or refinished golf balls, be sure you are getting the best bang for your buck.
What is a Refurbished or Refinished Golf Ball?
The title of this article is “Are Refurbished and Refinished Golf Balls Any Good?” but there is more than one way that you can find a used golf ball be brought back to life. One way is cost-effective and can be used by just about anybody; the other is like slapping a fresh coat of paint on an old car.
How Do You Refurbish Golf Balls?
A refurbished or refinished golf ball is one that was used previously, has some wear and tear showing, and is brought back to its former looks; this is done by blasting away the outer paint coatings down to its original base. Then, the ball gets repainted, and the logo is reprinted.
There is no damage done to the interior of the golf ball, nor is there any damage done to the dimples. This is to ensure the golf ball will still properly function once the refurbishing process is completed.
There is some potential downside to this method, though. The first being, wherever you purchase the refurbished golf balls from, you have to take their word on whether the golf ball you are buying is the actual brand it says on the ball. Also, a refurbished golf ball will almost certainly lose their full capabilities, the more it is hit.
Some companies and individuals will blast away the paint down to the original, find the ball is of a lower-end brand, repaint the golf ball, and then stamp a higher-end golf ball logo on it to up the asking price of the refurbished golf ball.
The best way to find a refurbished golf ball that is the same type as their original form is to buy from reputable sellers. By law, if a golf ball has been refurbished, then a stamp on one of the ball’s poles must say, “Refinished.”
Easy Ways to Refurbish Golf Balls
If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, there are many easy ways for you to clean your golf balls yourself to make them look like new, and they only require simple soap and water. This cleaning is also used by some local golf courses to help them save money on refurbishing golf balls.
The golf balls that are usually used by local golf courses for their driving range balls are found by employees. They will go out and walk the course early in the morning or late at night and collect balls that have been used and lost. Then, they clean the balls up and reuse them for their driving ranges.
The golf balls that are all collected are brought back to be given a gloss over; usually, just soap and water are used to scrub out the scuffs and other marks that can easily be taken off. This is a simple and cost-effective way to reuse lost golf balls and collect golf balls to then use for driving ranges.
Also, on most local golf courses, there are golf cleaning stations posted throughout the course. These cleaning stations are plastic/aluminum-bodied machines that are either electronic or manually used. Their purpose is to just clean the balls of dirt or grass to help with aerodynamics.
Many courses have at least a few of these cleaners on the course, or at the very least, at the first hole, so that the golfers can clean their golf balls before going out to play a round of golf.
There are also at-home golf ball cleaning kits that you can find for around $100 on Amazon.com. Some look like pouches that use microfibers and are always-wet inside to clean the balls of dirt and grass. Other options look more like the golf ball cleaners that you might find on a golf course.
New vs. Refurbished and Refinished Golf Balls
Now the obvious difference between an old golf ball and a new one is that one has not been used yet. Technically speaking, a golf ball becomes used the first time it is hit. But, there is a bigger difference between gently used and greatly used.
A gently used golf ball is one that you will use for an entire round of golf. A brand new golf ball at the beginning of the round will get hit between 75-115 times during a round of golf, depending on how good of a player you are. That figure also depends on how many times you lose your ball during the round as well.
A greatly used golf ball is one that has probably been in your golf bag for ages. It is your trusty ball that always flies true to where you need it to go—or it is a ball you happened to find during a round of golf with your buddies and have used it for practice chipping for a while now.
Either way, a greatly used golf ball is still effective versus a brand new golf ball. Most modern golf balls do not get easily damaged from being hit. If you have concerns about the balls you find in the water, you should know that modern golf balls are still good even after being in the water for periods.
Golf balls generally do not lose their luster when hit over some time. The way they are constructed, golf balls can be reused over and over as long as the plastic outer cover is undamaged. Also, a harder to check feature to make sure golf balls are still operational is the inner rubberized part. If this is damaged in any way, then the golf ball is essentially useless.
Golf Ball Rating Scale
For novice golfers, the difference between a Titleist Pro 3 versus a TaylorMade TP5 may just be the price of a bundle on the shelves. But numerous different factors go into how different golf balls are.
First and foremost, the biggest difference between golf balls is the material they are made with. As with many products that have low-end and high-end versions, the materials that make the product ultimately make up the price.
- For low-end golf balls, most are made with a surly ionomer-cover, which is essentially a cheap plastic that has elasticity qualities. These golf balls are durable, can take a pounding, and rarely leave a mark after usage. These types of golf balls are going to last a long time and will not show as much wear and tear.
- High-end golf balls, meanwhile, are very much susceptible to getting marked up and scuffed. These types of balls are generally made with a urethane cover, which is a rubber material similar to those of skateboard wheels. This material allows for the ball to produce more spin during flight and is very good at hugging the grooves on golf club faces.
Used golf balls also have a rating scale to determine which are high-end and which are the low-end type of balls. Lost Golf Balls has its very own grading scale that can be used to judge how well a golf ball is refurbished. The five categories are: Mint (5A), Factory Refinished, Near Mint (4A), and Good (3A).
The highest of the golf ball grading scale, these golf balls are the best you can find without having to actually buy brand new. The “Mint” golf balls are similar to brand new balls and show little to no wear and tear. The only visible marks may be from player pen markings.
The next best golf ball on the Lost Golf Balls rating scale, this type of refurbished golf ball is similar to the “Mint” in that they both feel similar to a brand new golf ball. These golf balls differ from the “Mint” though in that they have been refurbished in some way, shape, or form (stripping, painting, stamping, clear coating).
Near Mint (4A)
Now we start seeing golf balls with a little more wear and tear at the “Near Mint” level. No longer do the golf balls have an almost factory-like feel, but these balls have more of a feel of one that has been through the wringer a few times. These golf balls likely have been through multiple rounds of golf already.
The “Near Mint” version of the golf balls also have some slight cosmetic damage to them and can show player markings of any size or color in any location on the ball. These balls also can show their wear and tear on the course, and they might not fly as far or as true as they once were able too.
The final and lowest end of the scale is the “Good” rating. These balls are typically used for practice rounds, chipping, driving, anything outside of a normal round of golf. These are also going to be the cheapest balls, and they usually are the cheaper versions of the original golf balls.
The visible wear and tear are clearly evident on these golf balls, with scuffs, blemishes, smudges of the print, and/or discoloration present. The golf balls are still good to use, though, as there should not be any cuts that might affect how the golf ball is hit or how it flies in the air.
Price Difference: Refurbished vs. New Golf Balls
The biggest reason to buy something new versus something used is the knowledge that you are the first person to use it. You know all of the things that have happened to the product because you were the one that did those things to it.
Like anything else, buying a used golf ball may seem like a risk. But, for new golfers and those looking to get the most for their dollar, refurbished and used golf balls are the way to go.
But what is the actual price difference between the two versions of golf balls? The chart below will be a good indication. Using the charts from Lost Golf Balls and from Titleist, the table compares the difference in price for a dozen (12) Titleist V1 golf balls:
|Price (Dollars/12 balls)|
As you can see from the chart, there is a massive price difference between used/refurbished and brand-new. Titleist is a reputable brand of golf equipment, and though it may be one of the more high-end brands, this is still a significant difference in price.
This is important to see because you can get almost twice as many golf balls that are just as good (“Mint”) as you can for the same price. New golfers could even go for the “Good” or “Near Mint” versions of the golf balls to get started and not have to worry about losing golf balls.
Where to Buy Refurbished and Refinished Golf Balls
Some research can find you multiple websites and shops where you can find used balls to purchase. If you do not want to waste your time looking online at reviews and waiting for the balls to ship to your house, there are other options.
The first and easiest option would be to go to your local course and see if there is a pro shop at the course. These pro shops hold all kinds of equipment, gear, clothing, etc.; pretty much anything you would need to go play a round of golf, you can find in a pro shop. This potentially could include used golf balls in bundles, if the pro shop is on a big enough course.
Another option for shopping involves going online as well, but looking for yard sales is a great way to find golf gear. People selling used golf clubs, bags, clothing, or other gear will sometimes have golf balls they are willing to part with. This can be a great money saver on shipping costs, plus you can probably get the balls in bigger bundles for cheaper.
But, if you want to buy from a reputable dealer, there are plenty of ones online that can you used golf balls at a discounted price. The following list, put together by Golf Club Guru, is just a sliver of what is out there:
- Amazon – This is the obvious go-to site for probably 90% of people looking to buy 90% of things online. It is a good starting point for those trying to find used golf balls at a good price.
- eBay – This is another, if not less used, site that people could go to, to bid on a set of used golf balls. Depending on the auction, the price could be very low.
- Lost Golf Balls – This site is the best site for specific needs of used golf balls. Founded by former golfers who were trying to find a way to sell all of the golf balls they found while playing, this site is the number one recommended site (by my own research accord).
- Rock Bottom Golf – Another site specifically for used golf balls, it is a site that refurbished and refinishes golf balls lost in ponds, lakes, rivers, and pretty much all waterways in or near golf courses. They refinish the balls, so they look new and resell them at discounted prices.
By no means is this a full and complete list, but these are all reputable and great places to find used golf balls at reasonable prices. Most of these places will also have various versions of the golf balls (like the scale used on Lost Golf Balls) and therefore, can have a variety of prices.
Refurbished golf balls are a great way for new golfers to accumulate their collection of golf balls without breaking the bank. The game of golf is not a cheap one with golf clubs, bags, gloves, shoes, and balls all necessary to play a round of golf. Not to mention the fees for playing a round of golf as well, the price starts to add up when you are playing.
Refurbished golf balls are a great way to ease the cost of playing golf while still getting quality materials to play with. There are plenty of ways to even refurbish your own golf balls that you find or play with constantly to help prolong their lifetime and help you with your golf game.