Sick of losing golf balls? Here are 5 tips to never lose one again

man swims in lake for golf ball

These five tips will dramatically cut down on your number of lost balls.

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Death, taxes and losing golf balls on the course — these are certainties in life. Even pros on the PGA Tour lose their fair share of balls, though it comes at a much lower clip than your average weekend warrior. According to some digging in an article from GOLF’s own Dylan Dethier, avid golfers lose 1.3 balls per round. If you’re playing frequently, that can add up quick.

But you don’t have to lose balls each and every time you get out to the course. Yes, this is easier said than done, but it is possible to play a round and not lose a ball. In fact, this past week I played 36 holes in a day and didn’t lose one ball. It is rare, but it can happen.

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To be completely honest, I didn’t even realize I was throwing a “perfect game” with the ball until well into the second round of the day. Once I did realize it, though, it was tough not to think about the rarity of the feat. I’ve never tracked it before, but that ball had to have seen more shots from me than a fair share of my balls from over the years.

I wasn’t necessarily doing anything special that day, either. I didn’t hit the ball especially well, I just kept it in front of me and probably scored better than my ball-striking should have warranted. But now that I look back on it, there were a number of things I did throughout the round unconsciously that made it more likely that trusty Callaway would make it through all 36 holes.

Here are five tips to help you never lose a ball again.

1. Take the trouble out of play

This is a trite suggestion, but that’s probably because it holds so much truth. If there’s water short, club up. Trouble on the right and your miss with the big stick is to the right? Holster the driver and take a smooth 3-wood or hybrid. These aren’t groundbreaking suggestions, but when I’m on the course, I try to make course management my 14th club. I’ve beaten players far better than me just by being the smarter player. An easy way to outsmart your opponent is being conscious on every shot of where the trouble is and playing away from it.

2. Still stay aggressive

By staying aggressive, I don’t mean try the hero shot every time. What I mean is that every swing you make should be purposeful and aggressive. It’s something you’ll have to get used to — especially when there is trouble in the vicinity — but if you make an aggressive lash it’s far more likely the ball will react the way you expect. A timid swing can bring more trouble into play even if that’s not your intention. Be mindful of your commitment to every shot, and you’ll lose far fewer balls.

3. Don’t be afraid to lay up

Your playing partners might roast you when you consistently play it safe, but when you start beating them, they’ll button up. There is nothing wrong with going hybrid-hybrid-7-iron into a par-5. You might miss out on some birdie opportunities, but by eliminating the big number, your scoring average will drop in the long run. Shorter clubs are easier to control, so when trouble is in play, use them!

4. Watch your ball all the way down

If you know the shot is bad off the face, don’t drop your head and pout — follow the ball like a hawk until you can’t see it anymore. Get a line and general area of where it ended up and you’ll find your ball more often than not (unless it’s in the water, of course). And do the same for your playing partners. It’s a polite thing to do, and it can help pace of play when everyone isn’t searching for a ball on every hole. Never take your eye off the ball until you know where it finished.

5. Don’t think about not trying to lose a ball

Don’t bring thoughts about losing a ball into play. Just focus on your next shot and what you want it to do rather than what you don’t want it to do. On the last hole of my 36-hole excursion last week, I caught myself thinking about trying to “protect” the ball. My next shot leaked right and was almost lost. Luckily, it stayed out of the tree line by a few feet and I was able to complete my “perfect game.” I should’ve been focused on splitting the fairway instead of trying not to hit the ball in the trees. I was lucky, but that won’t always be the case.

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Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at