Should I Buy Lake Balls?

With one dozen top-quality golf balls now costing around $50 many of you are probably wondering whether you should save some money and start buying lake balls.

I suppose I am a little biased as I have been known on occasion to use lake balls but in general terms, I would say most golfers would probably see little difference between a brand-new ball and the same model of reclaimed ball.

If you don’t lose many balls and strike the ball consistently well then I would argue that you may as well stump up for new balls as you are more likely to notice a difference. You could still however look for some better value options if the prices are getting a bit too high for you.

If you are losing several balls every round and you play quite regularly then you might be more tempted to swap to a cheaper option like lake balls.

Lake Ball Grades

When you go shopping for lake balls you’ll find companies offering them at different price points depending upon their grade.

Before parting with your hard-earned cash it would be useful to know what each of the grades means. Most of the companies will offer the following:

Pearl

The best quality lake ball you can find and probably priced accordingly! They should be almost indistinguishable from a new ball although they may feature identification marks or logos. 

Grade A

Not quite up to pearl standards due to play marks or discoloration but should still be in excellent condition.

Grade B

Balls that show some signs of wear and tear from play. Marks from clubs and pens, discoloration or a combination of all three. Unlike pearl and grade A probably not recommended for competitive play.

Practice

The cheapest grade of ball. They may include x-outs, refinished balls, old balls or ones with blemishes. They will exhibit clear signs of wear and tear but should still be useful as practice balls.

Depending on the company you may find the range of balls in a given grade a bit more flexible than you might like!

Do Lake Balls Lose Distance?

It depends on who you ask. According to some studies, even a few hours submerged in water will have a detrimental effect on the ball. Of course, it depends on your game how much this is likely to affect your scores.

If you are a decent player who strikes the ball well more often than not then the performance of a lake ball is going to be more noticeable than a beginner or high handicapper who isn’t hitting that many pure strikes.

Personally, I can’t say I’ve noticed that big a difference between the performance of lake balls and the same model brand new. However, I am not talking about a scientific side-by-side comparison. If a lake ball costs me 10 yards off the tee and a few yards with an iron I am not going to notice as I’m not that consistent.

Should A Beginner Use Lake Balls?

In general, beginners are going to lose quite a few balls starting out so for this reason alone they might find it beneficial to use lake balls. They won’t feel the pain in their wallet quite so much!

Once they have improved to the point where they are striking the ball with more consistency and losing fewer balls they could then start looking at investing in new balls as they can then develop trust and feel with one specific ball model.

Are Lake Balls That Much Cheaper?

Looking at one UK supplier they are asking £33.95 ($42.46) for a dozen Grade A Titleist Pro V1s. Given that I can get brand new logo overrun Z-Stars for that price or less then I’m not sure buying high-end balls this way is necessarily much of a saving.

A US-based site has them a little cheaper at $30.99 but even then I think you’d need to be losing a lot of balls for the price differential to be worth it.

If you are losing so many balls that new Pro V1s are too expensive then you could drop down to a mid-range ball for around half that price ($25) and probably not notice much difference in your scores since you are unlikely to be striping it if you lose lots of golf balls!

It’s all relative, isn’t it. My membership costs me £1100 ($1375). If I play twice a week and lose one ball per round then that’s about 8 dozen balls per year. So dropping from brand new Pro V1s to Pro V1 lake balls will save me about $160. In fact, buying new Pro V1s would cost me about 33% of my annual subs. If I’m playing 5 times a week then using new Pro V1s means golf balls are almost as much as my golf subscription!

Personally, I tend to use lake balls in the winter when conditions aren’t so good anyway or in the autumn when there are plenty of leaves around to lose balls in. New balls get saved for competition rounds or when I’m playing somewhere special.

BallMSRPPearlGrade A
Titleist Pro V1$50$30$25
Titleist Pro V1x$50$31$27
TaylorMade TP5 (TP5x)$50$31$19
Srixon Z-Star (XV)$45$26$19
Callaway Chrome Soft$50$31$24
Bridgestone Tour Balls$50$25-$30$19-$21
Titleist Velocity$30$16$12
Srixon Soft Feel$23$16$13
Comparison of new vs lake ball costs

Lake Balls Vs Refurbished

Refurbished balls can be very hit and miss, even more so than lake balls. I don’t think the price differential is sufficiently large to warrant using them for anything other than practice.

If you’re losing tons and tons of balls every round then you might be better off investing in some lessons to improve your game as that would save you more money in the long run.

Should I Buy Lake Balls: Conclusion

There are a number of use cases for lake balls and all but the best players should probably consider using them even if only for practice or bounce/social golf.

Swapping to a cheaper ball could leave you enough spare cash for a few extra rounds of golf if you aren’t a member.

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