Does the old rule of thumb that a golf ball loses distance the longer it’s left on the shelf still apply? We talk to a man who knows.
When I was a junior golfer, oh so many years ago, I used to scrap it out with fellow juniors over the ‘best’ hand-me-down golf balls, left in a box by magnanimous Full members. These were old balls that were no longer in the best shape of their lives.
As juniors, that was our lot. The variance in ball quality was wide as balls suffered far more from age than they do today. Even an unused ball that was a few years old suffered deterioration, affecting flight, direction and distance. With today’s modern technology and balls of so many different price points it is rare to see a junior golfer playing with anything but a new ball plucked fresh from the sleeve.
I have boxes of unused balls in the garage that are up to ten years old. For a long time I refused to use them because I’d read that old balls lose distance and stability. A ball could lose as much as five yards a year so did I really want to lose 50 yards when driving with a ten year old ball?
But are such limitations still valid with today’s advances in ball technology? Who better to ask than Dean Klatt, Founder and CEO at Seed Golf. “The short answer is no, modern golf balls don’t lose performance if you don’t use them,” says Klatt.
“They are still susceptible to extreme temperature change so if you’ve left them in excessive heat or cold for long periods of time that could cause a deterioration in performance. It would have to be pretty extreme though. Modern cover materials can absorb small traces of water after being submerged for long periods but, generally speaking, leaving them indoors on a shelf is fine.
“As to why, it’s all about chemistry basically. The Ionomer & Polymer compounds used to manufacture modern balls are very stable materials, so they remain consistent even over long periods without use. There’s no definitive scientific study on this, but 10 years stored under normal conditions should see no change to performance for the modern ball. Of course technology may change over that period but that’s a different story.
“The old-style wound balls, however, were generally made from natural materials like rubber windings or balata rubber covers and were therefore more susceptible to the passage of time or lack of use. They basically went ‘off’… meaning the rubber would begin to perish, particularly the internal windings, and lose performance with age and/or use.”
It’s enlightening to know those balls in the garage are still as viable as they were 10 years ago… even if ball technology has moved on faster than DeChambeau’s swing speed.
Article written by Kevin Markham.