Donating your golf balls to a local junior program is the best thing to do with your old golf balls. You can also sell them, use them for practice, or for various crafts and purposes.
My junior career was built on golf balls donated to me by the local driving range. Old golf balls are great for beginners because they last longer than most expect. The average golf ball will last ten years before being relegated to one of the more creative recycling ideas listed below.
Since golf balls can not decompose in nature, we must do our part and recycle golf balls as much as we can to protect the game and the environment. Here’s what to do with old golf balls.
1. Donate to a Junior Program
Collect all your used golf balls you don’t want anymore and store them in an easy-to-carry receptacle like old coffee tins or buckets. When they are full, drive to your local golf course or driving range and inform the head pro that you want to donate them to the junior program.
Just because a golf ball has lost its perfect shape and balance doesn’t mean it’s trash. Ill-performing balls can still be of great value to juniors as they take their first swings of what could become a lifelong passion.
My first golf balls were hand-me-downs from my Grandpa, but you can always bring your old golf balls to the local schools or junior program, and they’ll be able to distribute them amongst the junior community.
Even if you think they are not fit for play, juniors can use them for chipping and putting to learn technique and proper etiquette. This is how we can contribute to growing the game for future generations.
2. Sell Them
Since golf balls cannot be recycled traditionally, we must devise creative resources to reuse them or keep them from entering landfills. If we can make a few bucks in the process, then it’s a win-win situation.
- Online: If you have at least a dozen balls to sell, you could list them on Facebook Marketplace or any other local site your area might have. You can get around 50 cents a ball, but if you have premium golf balls, sell them separately, as they can fetch as much as 70 cents per ball.
- Refurbishers: To sell a lot of golf balls, no matter their condition, the best method is to contact refurbishers directly. They have creative ways to bring old balls back to life. You won’t get top dollar, but you will make a lot of space in your garage or shed by ridding it of all those used balls.
- Local Simulators: In northern climates, there are usually a few sims in town to pass the winter months. If you have less than three dozen balls to sell, you could approach them as they can use any ball as long as it looks good with no cuts or scuffs. They prefer white golf balls as well.
3. Use For Practice
Juniors aren’t the only ones who benefit from old golf balls; all high-handicappers can use these at the practice green for chips, bump and runs, bunker shots, pitches, and putting. They can also be used in a net if you have one in your backyard, basement, or garage.
Once you improve and start noticing the difference in flight, spin, and feel, you can retire your old golf balls to one of the other options on this list. But in the meantime, you might as well get your money’s worth, and the practice facility is the best way to do that.
Pro Tip: Avoid hitting golf balls into lakes and ponds because they are not biodegradable, and the materials used will decompose and harm the local ecosystem.
4. Massage Tool
Take advantage of a golf ball’s unique surface texture and use it to soothe achy muscles after a long day on the golf course. It’s also a great piece of sports equipment for those who train outside golf and deal with tight or spasm-y muscles.
If your back is bothering you, pinch the ball between your problem area and the wall; you can work the ball in all directions using this method. If your feet hurt or you have plantar fasciitis, roll the ball on the floor with the bottom of your foot until the discomfort subsides.
I’ve found this works better than a tennis ball because it’s smaller and, therefore, more accurate when trying to massage out a specific muscle.
5. Weights or Door Stops
- Paperweight: This works best if you cut the balls in half so they don’t roll away. Use these craft projects when playing cards outside or to hold down a stack of napkins.
- Tablecloth Weight: If you’re handy with a drill, you can make a hole in four golf balls and attach a carabiner to hang from the corners of your tablecloth, and voila! A tablecloth weight for picnics.
- Door Stop: Using your drill again, you can affix a golf ball to your current doorstop or attach a screw and install it yourself. This gives it new life and a great addition to any man cave.
6. Arts & Crafts
There are tons of things to make with golf balls when it comes to creativity. Pinterest is full of ideas that include golf ball key chains, vase decor, and garden ornaments. Depending on the time of year, gather the kids and get them to paint the old golf balls for Christmas ornaments or decorations such as wreaths and string lighting.
7. Plug for Drains
I discovered this myself a long time ago when I lost the plug for my kitchen sink. I was cleaning my golf balls there, and while the water was draining, I dropped a ball, which rolled into the drain and blocked it perfectly. It made the perfect replacement and saved me a trip to the store.
However, not all drainage systems are the same, so if your drain is bigger, you can glue a rubber band around the ball, which should custom-fit your drain and create the perfect plug.
Are Old Golf Balls Worth Anything?
Yes, old golf balls have value; however, nothing is close to their value when they were new. There are ways to earn money for old golf balls, but their true value and grade are realized when they are creatively recycled as practice balls or other items.
Is a 10-Year-Old Golf Ball Still Good?
Yes, a 10-year-old golf ball is still good for 99% of the golfing population. Ar amateur golfers will not notice a difference if it is stored in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. However, if the ball has been used over 10 years, it will degrade and oxidize much faster, making it unfit for on-course play.
Can You Put Golf Balls in the Recycling Bin?
No, you cannot put golf balls in the recycling bin. They are not considered acceptable materials for major recycling facilities in the United States. The only way to recycle old golf balls is through the methods listed in this article, which will prevent them from going to landfills and other environmentally harmful outcomes.
Are Golf Balls Bad for the Environment?
Yes, golf balls are bad for the environment if left to decompose. They release harmful toxins that negatively affect the surrounding wildlife, such as ants, caterpillars, and even the cute ladybug. This process speeds up in large quantities and when submerged under water, like a pond or lake, which is common on golf courses.
Clint is PGA-certified and was a Head Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf academies. He was also featured on Canada's National Golf TV program, "Score Golf Canada," twice. He graduated with a degree in Golf Management from the College of the Desert in California and studied under Callaway's co-founder, Tony Manzoni.
He has a handicap index of 6.2 and spends the winters near Oaxaca, Mexico, where he plays twice a month at the Club de Golf Vista Hermosa. He's written over 100 articles at GolfSpan since 2021. You can connect with Clint at LinkedIn, FB, his website, or Clintcpga@gmail.com.
- Best score: 68
- Favorite club: Odyssey White Hot Two-Ball Center-Shafted Putter
- Favorite ball: Titleist Pro V1x
- Favorite food at the turn: Hot dog