Dear GGG: How long does a golf ball last? 4 tips

Image of dirty golf ballQ: I hit the golf ball pretty straight and not very far, so I don’t lose many. How do I know when it’s time to feed a golf ball to the fishies? And do all those roadtrips in my hot trunk take a toll on wear and tear?

A: Good news, GottaGoGolfers, the experts say that the average woman golfer doesn’t do much damage to the golf ball or notice slight differences in aerodynamic performance due to wear. Meaning, we can travel light and play that ball for as long as it’s looking good.

According to Brandon Sowell, Director of Marketing for Bridgestone Golf: “With advanced technology and constructions today, really the primary way it would get tired is through visible abrasions from use. Evaluate the cover for any abrasions from cart paths, trees, rocks/pebbles, etc., and remove from play as needed.”

“In terms of performance” says Nike’s product director for golf balls, Mark Alan, “a ball does have a long shelf life. Little scuffs can affect aerodynamic performance, but most golfers won’t see that. You’ll see it on the (optimally swinging) robot. (Little scuffs) don’t even really affect putting, unless you can see ridges that would alter the roll. In general, if the ball looks shiny and has all of its dimples, a ball will still perform adequately.”

A single-digit handicapper with great ball control, Alan said, might notice inconsistencies with wear and tear. But those of us aspiring to hit the ball long and far really won’t.

Here are four tips for anyone concerned about maximizing the effectiveness of their golf balls:

1. START WITH THE RIGHT GOLF BALL.

All of the golf ball manufacturers, including Callaway and Titleist, are packaging several options; it makes sense to play the right one rather than whatever pops out of the weeds.

2. TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO BE FITTED.

Bridgestone and now Nike have invested heavily in programs to customize the process for all of us, so that we can match our ball selection with our swing speed and goals. Bridgestone (bridgestonegolf.com) has a traveling Golf Ball Fitting Challenge that uses a launch monitor, or for instant advice, fill out an online questionnaire. And Nike (nikegolf.com) has an online ball fitting tool.

3. CLEAN THE BALL WHENEVER IT’S LEGAL TO DO SO.

What you can’t see might hurt you. “If there’s mud on the ball or any dirt between the ball and the putter face, it will really affect the roll of the ball,” Alan said. “Same thing with the driver — a little dirt in the dimples can have a big effect.”

 4. CONSIDER STORING NEW BALLS IN A MILD ENVIRONMENT UNTIL YOU’RE READY TO USE THEM.

Both Alan and Sowell recommend room temperature storage in both summer and winter to preserve the molecular structure of this important piece of your equipment. Maybe we should nestle them between the bottles in the wine cellar?

This article first appeared in the May 2011 edition of GottaGoGolf Magazine.

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