Top gear stories of 2021: How long can a golf ball really last?

There's an easy way to tell when it's time to grab a new ball.

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Happy Holidays from our gear team at GOLF.com. To bring you into the New Year the right way, we’re counting down our top 21 equipment-related stories from 2021. For the latest gear news, check out our dedicated equipment section, and click here to listen to GOLF’s Fully Equipped weekly podcast

Some of the highest-trafficked gear posts from 2021 were tied to some incredibly simple questions, like this one: How long can you use a golf ball before noticing a performance drop-off? Yours truly doesn’t have to worry about golf ball longevity because he’s constantly losing pellets in the woods.

Top gear posts of 2021: 5 obvious signs it’s time to buy new golf clubs
By: Andrew Tursky

Of course, many of us enjoy stretches where it doesn’t feel like we can miss. We keep finding the fairway and choose to roll with the same ball. It’s a badge of honor! The wear and tear you’re inflicting on the ball could make the cover fray slightly along the edge of the dimple as the round goes on, but as we learned recently, you don’t necessarily have to sweat a loss in performance.

As 25-year-old Alex Chiarella found out during his maiden Mackenzie Tour win at the 2019 Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open, a single golf ball — a Titleist Pro V1x in his case — is good for all 72 holes. At a professional event. It’s a staggering number of holes for a pro to use the same ball, but it didn’t keep him from leaving town with the trophy.

Chiarella actually isn’t the only pro who uses the same ball for extended stretches. Make sure you check out the original article to learn about Gary Woodland’s golf ball superstition.

Which brings us to the most important question of all: Is there a sure-fire way to tell when it’s time to remove a golf ball from play?

Will sand and normal wear and tear affect ball performance?
How long can you use a golf ball before noticing a performance drop-off? We have your answer
By: Jonathan Wall

According to a Titleist rep, golfers have reached out with stories of “having played over 120 consecutive holes with the same ball,” so it’s impossible to say when you’ll hit the performance plateau. Assuming you’re playing somewhere other than the desert and don’t continually kiss the cart path with tee shots, you’re good to keep using the same ball.

“Our normal rule of thumb for regular golfers is as long as paint loss, a scuff or defacement of the golf ball is less than the size of a dime, it should be good to go,” the representative said.

In other words, if the ball looks like it’s been through a battle, it’s probably time to switch it up.

jonathan wall

Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Photographer

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.