I was cleaning out my garage and found some new/unused old golf balls. Some might be 10 years old or more. Are these as good now as when I got them? When should I just throw them out?
Those new (old) balls you found in the garage are probably in reasonable good shape for most golfers. The shelf life does depend on the construction and whether or not they have been exposed to high humidity and high temperatures.
As far as the construction is concerned; if these balls are more than eight years old and of a wound construction they will have a lower shelf life than today’s balls – all balls today are of a two, three, or even four-piece construction which means that they have a solid core(s) and a mantle and/or a soft or hard cover.
A wound ball which is approximately 10 years old, stored at room temperatures and low humidity, will have lost about 0.5 to 1.0 % of its IV (Initial Velocity) which will affect its distance by a couple of yards. This is not important to most of us because our drivers are a little less than 200 yards on average –most of us think our average drive is equivalent to our longest drives and thus overestimate our average driving distance by about 30 to 40 yards. Along with this overestimate, is the range in distance of our straight drives which is about +/- 10% or more of the intended target distance.
Our drives are generally between 180 yards and 220 so a couple of yards, because of an older ball will be difficult to recognize – but lets not have anything, even two yards, get in the way of that perfect drive.
When it comes to the solid core balls, these should be good for at least five or more years without too much degradation, as long as they have not been exposed to extraordinary conditions i.e. high humidity or high temperatures – a pond is not considered a low humidity environment but a garage may fit into this category.
The other thing to remember is that the solid core balls will, in general have a higher IV to begin with and have less spin off the driver and as a result will go farther than the wound balls. Most of us have been using solid balls for at least ten years.
Bottom line is if you intend to enter a serious tournament – your club championship or maybe the US Open -- then buy a new sleeve (or dozen) of the balls which best suit your game. If not, save your money and use the solid core balls you found in your garage and put the wound balls in the shag bag.
Stay on the ball