As a writer for Golf Digest for nearly 15 years, I’ve been fortunate to have a few free golf balls kicked my way from time to time. The craziest part is that I hardly ever use them. Oh, sure, I break out a fresh sleeve for a really big round or take a box on my annual golf trip, but even then, I often find myself playing Pro V1s or other top-of-the-line golf balls that I’ve found (my group calls them “pieces of gold”) on the course after I lose one or two of the new ones. It helps that as someone whose game revolves much more around precision than power, I don’t tend to lose that many golf balls. And, yes, I’m a pretty frugal guy.
So when this universal golf ball rollback was first reported by our Mike Stachura, one of my first thoughts went to the shelf in my closet [pictured] where I’ve collected (OK, hoarded) plenty of treasure through the years. These are brand new balls still in their boxes. Or, at least, they were brand new. In some cases, a decade ago.
I’ve got Titleists and Bridgestones and TaylorMades and Callaways and even a couple of sleeves of that Kirkland ball Costco couldn’t keep on its shelves a few years ago. Don’t sleep on those Wilsons, by the way. Those are from Golf Digest‘s ball testing in 2014 and they rated really high. Anyway, I thought these balls would really come in handy now that the R&A and USGA are rolling back how far new balls will fly. Apparently, I wasn’t alone.
Sorry kids, daddy can’t afford Christmas this year pic.twitter.com/f0Wm7iGVg2
— Scott Mathers (@scottgolfs) December 2, 2023
Damn, that’s a nice stash, Lou. I’m jealous.
Now there are a couple key things to point out here. For one, this rule won’t go into effect for recreational golfers like myself until 2030 (tour pros will have to make the switch for 2028). For another, to play these golf balls after that date would be to break the rules of golf.
That might seem crazy to some – and we’re certainly not advocating that you should cheat – but a recent Golf Digest poll resulted in 60 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t honour a new rule that restricted distance. And if it’s just a friendly round, I could see myself joining that group – especially if I haven’t gone through my stockpile yet. There’s no way I’m going to let good golf balls go to waste!
But will they even still be good golf balls? That’s the question I posed to Golf Digest‘s senior equipment editor E. Michael Johnson.
“Yes, you can absolutely hoard golf balls,” Johnson said.
Of course, there are some caveats. Johnson says the balls should be kept at room temperature, not too hot or too cold, or they will lose some of their juice. My definition of room temperature may be different that some during the winter months – again, I’m frugal! – but he thought my closet should be fine.
They also shouldn’t have any water damage, which unless that ceiling leaks, I should be OK. Again, these are unused golf balls. And they don’t really go bad. Not even by 2030.
Johnson added that as long as they’re made in the past 20 years (prior to that was the era of wound balls, which would get smaller over time), you shouldn’t notice much of a difference. And any small loss in distance would more than make up for what recreational golfers are poised to lose when the rollback goes into effect.
In other words, hoard away. Go ahead and turn yourself into a rollback doomsday prepper if you want. And if it’s not too late this year, ask everyone in your family to get you golf balls for Christmas. And next Christmas. And even the few Christmases after that. Future you will be happy come 2030.