Why Do Golf Balls Break Towards Water?

Ever noticed that no matter how perfectly you strike the ball, it often seems to creep towards the lake on your course? What gives? Why do golf balls break towards water? While this phenomenon can certainly be exasperating, it’s not caused by anything complicated. 

There are no enigmatic forces pushing your golf ball slowly towards the water. On this page, we’ll do our best to separate fact from fiction. We’ll cover why golf balls seem to head towards water, how to avoid it, and how to make the most of a bad situation. 

Read on to boost your golfing know-how. 

Fact or Fiction – Do Golf Balls Break Towards Water? 

The first thing to mention here is that you’re not crazy – golf balls on many courses do indeed tend to break towards the water. This is especially noticeable when putting. The green is perhaps the biggest ‘hotspot’ for this kind of issue. 

It can even happen to more experienced players from time to time. Wading through the lake to retrieve your golf ball isn’t exactly our idea of fun. Paying good money for a replacement isn’t much better either! 

Why Do Golf Balls Break Towards Water? 

What makes the water at some golf courses so mysteriously magnetic? The answer, funnily enough, is nothing. The water itself isn’t to blame for your putts breaking towards the lake. It’s the design of the golf course itself. 

Many golf courses are designed with drainage in mind – the designers want things to naturally move towards the water where possible. This is especially true of older courses that went up before modern tools and techniques made it easier to move the earth and redistribute soil. 

In most cases, it’s gravity that’s causing your golf balls to break in this direction. The water tends to be at the lowest point of the golf course. When presented with the “choice” of an uphill journey VS a downhill one, the only option for the ball is down. 

This means far too many golf balls sinking to an early demise!

One Redeeming Option – Lake Balls 

Looking for a silver lining? We think we may have one for you. The number of balls that are hit into water at golf courses every year means there’s an abundance of options out there for cheap, secondhand balls on the market. If you shop smart, they can be an awesome way to save a fair bit of money. 

What are Lake Balls? 

Many golf courses periodically collect lost balls from the lakes and other water sources near their holes. When these balls are still in a reasonable condition, they can be refurbished and sold second hand at a steep discount. 

If you regularly go through sleeve after sleeve of golf balls, lake balls can be a great alternative. They’re significantly cheaper than a brand new ball and can be found at many golf courses and golfing stores across the United States.

Are lake Balls Worth it? 

We think so, yes! There’s no two ways about it – exposure to water for extended periods of time can damage the integrity of most golf balls. However, there’s a very good chance that you won’t even be able to notice much difference when playing. 

This is especially true if you’re a beginner or intermediate player. The differences in spin and flight path here can be almost imperceptible. Using the “best of the best” only really starts to matter once you’re playing at an experienced or professional level. 

Are Lake Balls Worse Than Brand New Golf Balls? 

Yes, but the difference can be marginal at best. If you’re looking for the best possible golf ball around, lake balls probably aren’t the right way to go. However, if you’re sick of losing your golf balls all the time and want a cheaper alternative when replacing them, we think they’re a great option for most people.

How to Avoid Landing in the Water 

Feel like you’re always losing your golf balls to the water? This section is for you. Below are our tips for keeping your golf balls high and dry time after time. 

Find the Right Course 

As mentioned above, the reason for golf balls breaking towards the water is most often caused by the design and geography of the golf course you’re playing on. If you’re playing somewhere with water at a lower point than the tee box, there’s only so much you can do to fight against the lake’s beckoning call. 

Finding a newer golf course without low-level water sources is one ‘nuclear’ option that could help you. After all, you can’t break into the water if there’s no water there in the first place! 

water hazard on a golf course

Pay Attention to the Wind 

Another factor that can significantly influence the path of your golf ball is the wind’s direction. Countless new players fail to factor this into their swings when first starting out. If the wind is blowing hard towards the water, you’ll need to keep this in mind each time you hit the ball. 

Account for the wind’s direction, and you’ll dramatically improve your chances of a good shot. 

Line up Your Shot Perfectly 

The address portion of your swing is of vital importance here. Take the hole, wind direction, distance, and all other aspects of the course into account before swinging your golf club. The better you line up your shot, the less likely it is that it will break towards the water. 


This kind of skill is impossible to train by reading blog posts – you simply have to get out there and train as much as you can. After all, practice makes perfect! 

Hone Your Technique 

If you’re always finding that your golf balls end up in the water, it might be time to take a closer look at your technique. There’s no shame in not having your skill level where you’d like it to be, but you’ll never get anywhere if you’re not training properly. 

If you can afford it, we strongly recommend getting a few lessons under your belt.

More: Can you hit golf balls into the ocean?

Why Do Golf Balls Break Towards Water? Conclusion

The geography and design of most golf courses is what causes golf balls to move in this way. The water source at most golf courses tends to be the lowest point in the area. There’s only so much you can do to fight against gravity!

Barry