Golf balls may appear to be tough and durable, and for the most part, they are, but when compared to the earth-shaping power of water, even the hardiest materials have to yield the power of H20.
Golf balls do get waterlogged where they have been submerged for long periods. This happens because the golf ball cover has tiny holes that allow water to penetrate the core over time. This then causes the ball’s core to become waterlogged and essentially unusable.
We will understand how golf balls become waterlogged, what happens to the core , how they perform afterward, and whether they are even worth using once recovered from the water.
What Does It Mean When A Golf Ball Is Waterlogged
When a golf ball is waterlogged, it means that the core of the golf ball has absorbed water, which will adversely affect the golf balls physical properties and performance characteristics.
While it does take a long time for a golf ball to become waterlogged, once the water has penetrated the core, the golf ball is then classified as a waterlogged ball. Unless its a biodegradable ball, then it just eventually disappears!
How Long Would It Take For A Golf Ball To Become Waterlogged
A golf ball is essentially waterproof during regular play as it will shake off water and not allow water to penetrate through the cover. But, when the golf ball is submerged for 12 hours or more, water will penetrate the cover and reach the core and the golf balls get waterlogged.
The core of the golf ball is hygroscopic, meaning it will absorb water, and so this dispels the myth that golf balls are waterproof. Should you hit your golf ball in the water and retrieve it within a few minutes or even after the round, it is unlikely that the golf ball’s core will be affected.
The urethane or surlyn covers are hardy and will prevent water from entering the golf ball over short periods, but longer than 12 hours underwater, the probability of waterlogging increases significantly.
How Does A Golf Ball Become Waterlogged
At first glance, the cover and surface of the golf ball seem completely solid, but under a microscope, you will see tiny holes in the cover surface, regardless of the type of cover material used.
Once the wet golf ball is submerged for 12 hours, the pressure of the water will begin to push water through the holes in the surface, and once the water breaches the cover, it will use the internal fillers in the golf ball like a freeway reach the core.
Modern Golf Ball Core Construction & Materials
The most common cover materials for modern golf balls are urethane, surlyn, ionomer, balata, and elastomer. The core of the golf ball has a few variations as well, and here are examples of the core materials and construction and some examples of the golf balls that use these cores.
· Solid core golf balls include the Top-Flite XL and XL 2000, Precept MC, Pinnacle TitaniumExtreme Distance, and Wilson SmartCore Professional Distance.
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· Multilayered Core golf balls feature the top-rated Titleist Pro V1, Strata Tour Ultimate, Nike Tour Accuracy, and Precept Tour Premium.
· Solid Core Wound golf balls include the Titleist DT Spin, Slazenger Players, and Maxfli Revolution.
How Does Waterlogging Affect A Golf Ball’s Performance
Water in the core will add weight to the golf ball, and as such, the golf ball may then be heavier than the standards set for the weight and diameter of the golf ball by the USGA. The maximum weight permitted for a golf ball is 1,62oz with a minimum diameter of 1,68″.
Water in the core can also cause the golf ball to swell and alter the shape and weight balance of the golf ball, and this will cause the golf ball to behave erratically in flight as the aerodynamics of the golf ball would be affected by the water.
Another effect is a loss of distance as water causes small spaces to form inside the golf ball. This results in a lower compression of the golf ball on impact with the golf club, so the golf ball will not fly as far once waterlogged.
The spin of a waterlogged golf ball becomes drastically inconsistent and virtually uncontrollable due to the weight and instability of the water inside the ball.
Should You Use Recovered A Waterlogged Golf Ball
All of this means that if you are going to recover or use golf balls that have been exposed to water for days or weeks, you should not be using these for rounds or practice, as the results will be inconsistent and inaccurate.
This is always one of the risks of buying used golf balls from vendors on the course, as many have been recovered from the water hazards, sometimes called lake balls, and you don’t know how long they have been there.
Although they appear clean and the covers are undamaged, similar to a new golf ball, there is no way to tell if they are waterlogged unless you carry a microscope in your bag!
While you might pick up premium golf balls like Pro V1’s for a steal, you may pay the price for that in performance, and it’s ultimately better to buy used golf balls from the pro shop as you are unlikely to pick up waterlogged from their range of used golf balls.
The real issue with recovered golf balls is whether you can trust them or not, and here, the judgment lies solely with you. You will only know if the golf ball is suitable for play or not once you have hit it for the first time.
If it flies straight and far and feels normal off the clubface, you have scored, but if it feels heavier and flies erratically, you need to toss that one or use it for home practice as it will not be suitable for regular play.
Waterlogged Golf Balls Conclusion
Golf balls get waterlogged only after extended periods of submersion, and once soaked; they become nothing more than a branded paperweight. Their cover construction is highly water-resistant, so they aren’t affected by dew, rain, or short-term-submersion.
Whether you choose to risk using potentially waterlogged golf balls is up to you, but if you want to maintain your consistency in your distance and control, then instead opt for new or secondhand golf balls that you know are not waterlogged.
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