TOM MORRIS: Lake balls worth thousands?

LAKE BALLS: Diminished Performance?

Golf is an expensive game, especially when you are first getting started. New clubs, a golf bag, and even proper attire all add up to a significant expense. But as expensive as those items can be, they can last for years without need for replacement. There is, however, a reoccurring expense in golf that cannot be avoided–and that is the price of new golf balls.

All golfers know what it is like to watch one of their golf balls soar into a water hazard, or get lost in the woods. Tall grass, nasty rough, water, and sand: golf courses are full of areas that are designed to swallow up golf balls. With the price of some new golf balls approaching sixty dollars a dozen, many golfers look for ways to save money.

Diving for lake balls has become a lucrative business, both for saving money, and reselling them. However, it can also have tragic consequences. An Ohio man drowned in scuba gear while diving for golf balls at a local country club in June. While you can either dive for “lake balls” or purchase them at Pro Shops for a discount, your game will most likely suffer because of it.

After just twelve hours in a lake, the water will seep through the outermost layer of the golf ball. Urethane and UPC covers are designed to be hydrophilic (moisture attracting) to combat various weather conditions. While invisible from the outside, water damage affects the driving distance off of the tee. After just one week in the water, lake balls will lose 5-10 yards in driving distance; after 3 months, the distance loss widens to 20-30 yards.

Lake balls are usually collected and sold in Pro Shops, often for as little as fifty cents a piece. The downside to buying lake balls, is that not only are they used, they are usually mixed as different brands, makes, and models that will all have different playing characteristics. While most lake balls are sold cheap, one dive team in Donegal is trying to cash in on the prize. They are searching for lost lake balls from the golf legend Tom Morris who was believed to have shot some of the earliest golf balls, known as gutta percha, into the lake during 1890. These golf balls are estimated to auction for thousands of dollars if found.

While the allure of finding a rare ball is tantalizing, don’t risk the dangers of diving, water damage, or playing with used balls just to save a few bucks! There are a number of great value-oriented options available for new golf balls. Pinnacle and Wilson both make two-piece, budget balls that work effectively. However, opting for a three-piece ball (such as LinksWalker’s ProVictory OPT) will give you greater spin and distance in the long run; it is also an affordable option and comes with a patented alignment guide.

Keep your eyes open. Money saving deals are all around us. When you find a special that is particularly thrifty, be sure to stock up while you have the chance. You will put the green back in your wallet and have a large supply of golf balls that will last a long time!