How Waterlogged Golf Balls Affect Your Game and Tips to Salvage Them

Colin McCarthy

golf balls waterlogged

Waterlogged golf balls can dramatically affect a golfer’s game, altering distance, accuracy, and feel. When a golf ball absorbs water, it becomes heavier, which can significantly reduce the distance it travels. This extra weight also increases spin, potentially causing the ball to veer off course more frequently.

Accuracy isn’t the only aspect compromised by waterlogged golf balls. The added moisture can make the ball feel softer, disrupting a golfer’s ability to execute precise shots.

Additionally, these waterlogged balls tend to have less bounce, making certain shots, like chip shots, more challenging to perform.

Understanding the impact of water on golf balls is crucial for any golfer looking to maintain peak performance on the course.

Waterlogged Golf Balls Overview

Waterlogged golf balls are golf balls that have absorbed water, either from being submerged in water hazards on the golf course or from exposure to moisture over time.

What Causes Golf Balls to Become Waterlogged?

Golf balls become waterlogged when they are exposed to water for extended periods or when their outer cover is compromised, allowing water to penetrate the ball’s core.

Several factors can contribute to golf balls becoming waterlogged:

Submersion in Water Hazards

Golf balls can become waterlogged when they land in water hazards such as ponds, lakes, or streams on the golf course.

Even though modern golf balls are designed to repel water to some extent, prolonged submersion can allow water to seep through the cover and into the core.

Damaged Cover

If a golf ball’s outer cover is scratched, cracked, or otherwise damaged, it becomes more susceptible to water penetration.

Damage to the cover can occur from hitting trees, rocks, or other hard surfaces on the golf course, as well as general wear and tear over time.

Moisture Absorption

Even without direct submersion in water, golf balls can absorb moisture from high humidity or wet conditions on the golf course. Over time, this moisture can accumulate inside the ball and contribute to it becoming waterlogged.

Poor Storage Conditions

Storing golf balls in damp or humid environments, such as a garage or basement, can also increase the likelihood of them becoming waterlogged. Moisture from the surrounding air can gradually penetrate the ball’s cover and cause it to absorb water.

How Long Does It Take for a Golf Ball to Waterlog?

A golf ball begins to absorb water within 12 hours, starting with the outer layer. After a week submerged, water reaches the core.

The core hardens due to prolonged water exposure, diminishing energy transfer and impacting the ball’s performance.

Studies show that even balls submerged for 1-3 months perform nearly the same as new ones, but extended periods noticeably degrade their quality.

Therefore, regularly replacing waterlogged golf balls is crucial for maintaining optimal play. Investing in quality, properly stored balls will ensure consistent performance and longevity for your games.

Identifying Waterlogged Golf Balls

Identifying waterlogged golf balls requires some observation and testing.

Here are a few methods to help you determine if a golf ball is waterlogged:

Changes in Weight

Waterlogged golf balls gain weight during water absorption, affecting their flight and distance. A standard golf ball weighs about 1.62 ounces (45.93 grams).

When water enters, it increases the ball’s mass, making it heavier. This additional weight impacts the ball’s ability to travel the expected distance.

Tests show that even slight increases in weight can cause noticeable differences in performance. Waterlogged golf balls also suffer from changes in their internal structure, leading to reduced elasticity. This hampers the ball’s ability to compress and rebound efficiently, resulting in less accurate shots.

Additionally, water entering the ball can cause degradation of the core materials over time, further diminishing its performance in both flight consistency and distance, making it essential to keep your golf balls dry for optimal play.

Alterations in Color and Texture

Waterlogged balls often exhibit changes in color and texture. Discoloration is a common indicator, with balls turning dull or having uneven coloring.

The texture may also change, becoming rough or slimy. Such surface modifications can affect aerodynamics, altering how the ball cuts through the air.

Regularly inspecting golf balls for these signs helps identify potential water damage. Moreover, waterlogged balls can lose their internal structure integrity, leading to inconsistent flight paths and reduced distance.

For optimal performance, consider replacing any compromised balls. Regular maintenance can enhance your game and prevent issues caused by unnoticed water damage.

Variations in Sound

When a golf ball becomes waterlogged, the sound it makes when struck changes. Golf balls typically emit a crisp, sharp sound when hit.

A waterlogged ball produces a duller, muted sound due to the internal core’s compromised structure. Monitoring the sound during play can alert golfers to the presence of water damage, allowing them to replace the affected ball promptly.

Additionally, waterlogged golf balls tend to have reduced distance and inconsistent flight patterns. This can significantly impact a player’s performance. Regularly inspecting and replacing compromised balls ensures optimal play.

Performance Implications

Performance declines significantly with waterlogged golf balls. Key metrics such as initial landing spot, roll distance, and total distance suffer.

Waterlogged balls show inconsistent performance compared to new ones, especially in terms of carry distance and roll distance.

Control tests confirm these performance issues, demonstrating the critical need for regularly checking and replacing balls exposed to water.

This ensures that you maintain optimal performance on the course. Golfers should consider storing their balls in a dry environment to prevent moisture retention.

Regular inspections can help identify any compromised balls, guaranteeing a consistent playing experience.

The Impact of Water on Golf Ball Performance

Water can significantly impact golf ball performance, particularly when the ball becomes waterlogged.

Here’s how water affects various aspects of golf ball performance:

Effects on Ball Speed and Spin

Waterlogged golf balls experience notable effects on both ball speed and spin, critical elements of performance in golf.

Ball Speed

When a golf ball becomes waterlogged, its ball speed typically decreases. The water absorbed into the core adds weight, altering the ball’s compression upon impact with the clubface.

As a result, the transfer of energy from the club to the ball is less efficient, leading to slower ball speeds off the tee and decreased distance on all shots.


Waterlogged golf balls tend to generate less spin than their dry counterparts. Spin is crucial for controlling the flight and trajectory of the ball, particularly on approach shots and around the greens.

With reduced spin, waterlogged balls may struggle to hold the green on approach shots, leading to increased roll-out or difficulty stopping the ball close to the hole.

Long-term Usability Concerns

Repeated exposure to water hazards poses long-term usability concerns for golf balls. Even after drying, internal damages might persist.

The integrity of the core and the vapor barrier get compromised, causing inconsistent performance. Golfers noticing diminished distance and inconsistent flight should consider replacing their balls.

Studies have shown that balls submerged for over three months exhibit structural degradation, affecting playability (Farricker, 1996).

Regularly inspecting and promptly replacing compromised balls is essential for maintaining optimal performance on the course.

Consistent play relies on using golf balls that meet high performance standards without the hidden damages caused by water exposure.

Handling Waterlogged Golf Balls

Handling waterlogged golf balls requires care to prevent further damage and ensure optimal performance on the course.

Here are some steps to handle waterlogged golf balls effectively:

Should You Play with Waterlogged Golf Balls?

Playing with waterlogged golf balls can severely impact a golfer’s performance. Waterlogged balls exhibit increased weight, discoloration, and texture changes, all of which lead to reduced distance and altered spin rates. These changes result in decreased control over shots and overall playability.

Studies, such as those conducted by Farricker in 1996, confirm that waterlogged balls compromise core integrity, even if they appear dry. Using these compromised balls can negatively affect your game, making it advisable to avoid play with them.

Tips for Salvaging Waterlogged Golf Balls

To salvage waterlogged golf balls, start by thoroughly drying them.

Follow these steps for the best results:

Identify Waterlogged Balls

Check for changes in weight, color, texture, and sound when struck. Additionally, inspect for any alterations in flight performance, as waterlogged golf balls often exhibit reduced distance and accuracy. Always store your golf balls in dry conditions to maintain optimal performance.

Drying Process

Clean the balls using a mild soap and warm water, then let them air dry completely in a dry environment. Avoid using extreme heat to speed up the drying process, as this can cause further damage.

Storing the golf balls in a cool, dry place will help maintain their condition. Regularly inspect them for any signs of permanent water damage to ensure optimal performance on the course.

Inspect for Damage

Once dry, inspect the golf balls for any signs of internal damage. Look for cracks and surface deformations.

If any damage is found, it’s best to replace the golf ball to ensure optimal performance on the course. Additionally, storing golf balls in a dry environment can prevent future waterlogging issues.

Test Performance

Before use, hit a few practice shots to evaluate how the balls perform. Check for loss of distance, altered spin rates, and any changes in feel.

These evaluations will help you determine if the waterlogged balls still meet your playing standards. Additionally, consider whether it’s worth investing in new golf balls for optimal performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to fix waterlogged golf balls?

If a golf ball has absorbed minor moisture, you can try drying it out. However, if water has penetrated the core, it’s best to replace it with a new ball to maintain performance.

How do you hit a wet golf ball?

To hit a wet golf ball effectively, dry it with a towel first. If the ball is severely waterlogged, replace it to ensure consistent play.

Can I use vinegar to clean golf balls?

Yes, you can clean golf balls using vinegar. Add 1 cup of vinegar to a bucket of warm water and soak the balls for 20-30 minutes, then scrub and rinse them.

When to throw away golf balls?

Replace golf balls when you notice visible wear, such as scuff marks, deep scratches, or significant discoloration, affecting their performance.

How can you tell if a golf ball is waterlogged?

A waterlogged golf ball often appears more yellowish or off-white. Faded logos and noticeable discoloration are indicators that the ball is damaged.


Waterlogged golf balls can seriously hinder a golfer’s performance by affecting spin, weight, and distance. It’s crucial to recognize the signs of water damage and take appropriate actions to salvage or replace compromised balls.

By regularly monitoring the condition of golf balls and employing proper drying techniques, golfers can ensure consistent playability.

Prioritizing the integrity of golf balls will help maintain optimal performance on the course. Additionally, investing in high-quality, water-resistant golf ball options can offer extra protection against water damage.

Being proactive about maintenance not only enhances performance but also extends the life of your golf balls, ultimately saving money and improving your overall game experience.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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