So the topic we’re discussing today is certainly an interesting one and also one which garners much debate and a fair amount of stigma too in an industry which is in part fueled by having access to the best and the latest in pretty much everything from balls to clubs to shoes and bags. There is always some new research and development being carried out by the big brands, to enhance and improve a golfer’s game. How much of it though is new technology and necessary, rather than clever marketing ploys to get golfers to part with even more of their hard earned cash?
For sure there are going to be plenty of balls laying around the courses of the world, abandoned in the rough, seemingly lost forever. Where do all those golf balls end up and are recycled and refurbished golf balls actually any good? Well, we’re glad you asked as that’s precisely what we’re reviewing today. We aim to answer that fiercely debated question among the golfing fraternity: Are recycled golf balls any good?
Let’s quickly talk about the difference between refurbished and recycled.
In essence, with a refurbished ball what you are getting is what to all intents and purposes looks like a new ball but what it actually is a second-hand ball that has been stripped of some of that outer layer and re-painted. Doesn’t exactly sound like a good idea to us! After all, doesn’t the technology behind the best golf balls have do with the precision layers and their performance?
Surely, if you’re changing the structure of the ball, you’re going to directly impact on its performance right? Not to mention, painting on a new glossy finish and re-stamping it with the logo of the desired brand and model all seems a bit fake to us. How do you even know that your TaylorMades aren’t really Callaways?
A recycled ball, on the other hand, is just a lost and forlorn ball, picked up from a golf course, given a bit of a clean but essentially sold in the same condition in which it was found. It might have been washed in a bit of soapy water, especially if it was found by the muddy banks of a fairway lake, but the physical structure of the ball will not have been adapted in any way. That sounds like an altogether more appealing option, especially when you consider the number of completely new golf balls that just get abandoned every day.
Some golfers are just too plain lazy to go in search of and retrieve the ball they just shot into oblivion, even if they did just literally take it out of a new packet that very day. In this case, recycled may well end up by pretty much brand new – only at a fraction of the shop bought cost. Now you’re talking.
So are There Any Pitfalls to Buying Recycled Golf Balls?
From what we can tell, no. There’s nothing wrong with purchasing recycled balls as long as you buy from a reputable seller. They’re not all going to be in a pristine condition of course, even if they have had a wipe down with a soapy cloth. If the golfer who’s abandoned their balls has been playing with that set for quite some while, then, of course, they’re likely to be a bit scruffy around the edges and bare some visible signs of use. On average though, we’d calculate that for every half a dozen recycled balls you buy, just one of them might be sub-par, which is pretty good going.
The main issue you might find with recycled balls is that they don’t quite look as pretty or pristine as new ones. Some guys like to get their sharpies out to personalize and identify their balls as their own, with their initials perhaps, or adding on corporate logos. So you may end up with someone else’s branding, but hey, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, especially if it’s saved you a few dollars which you can spend instead at the clubhouse.
Overall though, when it comes to recycled balls, there’s really a negligible difference to playing with your own already-used balls. You only have to hit a ball the once for it to really be deemed “recycled.”
Refurbished Balls on the Other Hand, Just Feel Aa Bit More Unsavory!
You may well be getting a pretty, clean and polished-looking ball that’s been sandblasted and repainted to look good as new, but how can you even be sure that the stamp on the ball is even the correct one? You run the risk of not just buying inferior balls but also buying fake ones too so, by all means, pick up a collection of recycled balls, but we would definitely recommend that you steer well away from untrustworthy refurbished ones.
What About the Overall Performance of Recycled vs. New Balls?
Clearly brand-new balls perform the best but with that comes the higher price point. You also know exactly what you’re getting and can trust the marketing claims being made if you’ve bought new branded balls from an official seller.
Recycled balls still perform well, and it should be instantly obvious just by looking at them what overall condition they’re in before you even hit them. Used balls will clearly show visible signs of any sun or water damage, scuffs and scratches so you can always just cast these aside. Chances are that no balls stay undetected for that long anyway. There’s always someone coming along and picking them up or fishing them out of the water, so overall, we recommend recycled balls as being a pretty safe and inexpensive bet and likely to have minimal damage.
If you are new to golf and just getting started, chances are you are going to, rather frustratingly, be spending quite a lot of time losing your balls, in which case, buying second-hand ones makes a lot of sense. As your handicap drops and your game improves, you’ll lose fewer balls and also settle for a brand and model that works better with your own style of play. At that point, it’s definitely worth investing in the best new balls you can afford to maximize and enhance your game. Until such point, recycling definitely gets a thumbs up from us.