Do Golf Balls Go Bad In Water? Our Maintenance Tips

Fore! Not every swing is going to connect exactly as planned. Hitting a golf ball or two into the lake is probably an experience shared by every golfer on the planet. This is especially true for beginners. This raises an important question – do golf balls go bad in water?

If so, is it worth worrying about or so minor that it’s barely noticeable? On this page, we’ll be exploring how water can impact the performance of golf balls. We’ll cover the various factors at play, why they matter, and how to protect your golf gear long term. 

Read on to protect your golf balls! 

Golf Balls are Porous 

The first thing to mention here is that the surface of most golf balls is far from impenetrable. It may surprise you to learn that it’s actually porous. Don’t get us wrong here – they’re not comparable to sponges. However, they are porous enough to be affected by their surrounding environment if left unprotected for extended periods of time. 

This means that leaving them submerged in water can indeed cause them to ‘go bad.’ Keep reading to learn quite how significant this damage can be.

Do Golf Balls go Bad in Water

Do Golf Balls Get Damaged by Rain? 

Rain can throw off your game in other ways, but it won’t immediately damage your golf balls. If you throw them into a soaking wet bag and leave them for weeks, however, you could be looking at a different story. 

To play things safe, we think it’s best to wipe down all of your golfing gear with a dry, soft towel after every single game. This way, you’ll have the best possible chance of protecting them for many years to come. 

Do Golf Balls Get Damaged After Sitting in Water?

They do, yes. The porous nature of golf balls means that extended submersion in water can indeed cause damage that’s more than just superficial. This applies most regularly to golf balls that have been hit into the lake on a golf course. 

If you’ve hit your golf balls into the sea, you could be dealing with even more damage. Salt can wear away at the hard plastics and resins of most golf balls and leave irreparable damage. 

The 12 Hour Rule 

Please keep in mind that there are countless factors at play here so the ‘12 hour rule’ we’re about to discuss should be used as a rule of thumb only. However, it’s believed that it takes about 12 hours for the water of a lake to penetrate the outer layers of a golf ball’s shell. 

This means that more than 12 hours of exposure can cause irreversible damage to your precious golf balls. If it’s only been in there for an hour or two, you should be ok. An overnight dunk is another story, however. 

How Much Can it Impact Performance? 

This of course depends on how long the golf ball has been submerged and its condition before it landed there in the first place. In the first 12 hours of submersion, it can be assumed that your golf ball will stay largely the same. 

After this 12 hour period, however, you can expect your golf ball to lose as many as 7 yards of distance for every week that it’s in the water – that’s a whole yard every single day! 

While a yard might not sound like much, this will add up sooner than you’d like it to.

Are Lake Balls Any Good?

The staggering number of golf balls hit into lakes every single day means that the market is flooded with a product known as ‘lake balls.’ What are they and are they even worth your money? In this section, we’ll find out! 

What are Lake Balls? 

Golf courses don’t necessarily want golf balls just sitting around in their lakes and other water sources. For this reason, most make an effort to dredge them out from time to time. The balls recovered during this process can be resold as ‘lake balls.’

Because most consumers are aware that lake balls may come with impacted performance, they’re sold at a deeply discounted rate. If you play your cards right, they can be a fantastic way to save money, especially if you’re buying in bulk.

Are They Even Worth Buying? 

This all depends on how much you trust the company selling them. Ten or so years ago, it was much harder to trust that any lake ball you were buying would perform well at all. These days, there are tons of lake balls out there that will do a great job for most people. 

Losing a few yards of performance really isn’t the end of the world if you’re a beginner. You likely wouldn’t have been able to achieve the ball’s maximum distance when it was brand new anyway!

We recommend using common sense when shopping. As lake balls tend to be super cheap anyway, we recommend buying a couple and seeing if they work for you. 


Getting to grips with how a product feels can make it much easier to know if it’s right for you. 

How to Care For Your Golf Gear – Our Maintenance Tips 

Wondering how to keep your golf gear game-ready for many years to come? Follow the best practices outlined below:

  • Keep your gear as dry as possible and wipe it down with a towel after every game.
  • Store your equipment and golf balls in a room with low humidity, low salinity, and a consistently moderate temperature. 
  • Use covers and protective cases to prevent scratches and dents from occurring.
  • Perfect your technique so you’re only ever hitting as accurately as possible.

Do Golf Balls Go Bad in Water? Final Thoughts 

We hope this article has helped to clear up any confusion. Extended submersion in water can indeed cause damage to golf balls after 12 hours or so. After 12 hours, expect to lose approximately one yard of distance for every day of submersion. 

Remember that lake balls can still be a fantastic option, especially for beginners.

Barry