Do golf balls lose distance after they've been in a water hazard?

Do golf balls lose distance after they’ve been in a water hazard?

You're playing golf, and you hit your ball into a water hazard -- or, lucky you, you find a perfectly new-looking golf ball sitting in water, right within your reach!

You reach into the water -- with your hand, a club or a ball retriever -- and grab the golf ball. Great news, right? Not necessarily.

As it turns out, golf balls that have been sitting in a water hazard can lose distance when you play them after an extended bath.

Do golf balls lose distance after sitting in water?

According to research across the industry, a golf ball that has been in water for more than 12 hours will not travel as far as it did before it found the water. That's because a golf ball cover is actually porous -- not like a sponge, but still. Water will penetrate the cover after approximately 12 hours and start getting toward the core of the golf ball.

Once water reaches the core of a golf ball, the water affects the compression of the golf ball, making it harder. With the golf ball getting harder, this means the golf ball receives less energy from the golf club at impact and has a harder time regaining its shape. Since the golf ball is receiving less energy, it can't travel as far as it otherwise would. So, even though a golf ball might look shiny and new in the water, it has likely started to degrade in terms of performance.

There's no use in trying to dry the golf ball. Pretty much no temperature is going to bring out the water from the core.

The impact water will have on how far a golf ball flies depends on two things: how many layers in the golf ball and how long it's been in water.

A two-piece golf ball -- typically the cheapest golf balls available -- actually loses less distance in the long haul compared to a ball with three or more layers. Both types of balls lose approximately six yards of total distance after eight days in water. However, two-piece golf balls will lose about 10 yards in total after three months in water, while multi-piece golf balls will lose approximately 12 yards in three months and 15 yards in six months underwater.

Companies that sell recycled and recovered golf balls often are selling balls found in water hazards, and neither they nor you know exactly how long those found balls have been underwater. So, it's best to avoid buying recycled golf balls.

However, if you hit a golf ball into a water hazard during a round and can retrieve it afterward, go ahead and do so knowing your golf ball is just fine.

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