Do Golf Balls Float?
Any golfer who has ever played the game knows that golf balls don’t float. If they did, there wouldn’t be a need to buy so many of them! Too often players have seen their balls sail into a lake or hazard or even the sea with a most unsatisfying PLOP! and watch as they sink to their watery grave.
But there is a caveat here. There are specific types of ‘fake’ golf balls that do float. These include golf balls used in mini-golf or crazy-golf as a way to help navigate some of the water features in play.
Other practice balls will float too on account of their weight. Certain balls, like Zoom Floating balls, are marketed as being perfect for driving ranges near water or for floating green competitions. They cannot, of course, be used in competition.
Why Don’t Golf Balls Float?
There’s one very straightforward reason why golf balls don’t float. They’re too heavy! Simple science dictates that the denser an object is, the less likely it is to float. And since the density of the golf ball is greater than the density of water, they sink to the bottom.
It is possible to reduce the density of a golf ball, such as with the fake balls mentioned above, but this would result in the ball likely being non-conforming and would also have huge ramifications on performance.
One of the main reasons standard golf balls are so heavy and dense is to help them travel through the air. If golf balls weren’t so dense, they wouldn’t have as much momentum to push through the air resistance they experience.
By contrast, ping pong balls are very lightweight and they will float because they are hollow. Golf balls definitely aren’t hollow as you will see in this step-by-step guide to how balls are made.
Can You Buy Floating Golf Balls?
As with the example of the Zoom Floating golf balls, there are floating balls available to purchase online that are surprisingly similar to the real thing. They won’t go as far as a real ball, but many have a 2-piece construction, a compression rating that is perfectly in line the today’s standards and even the cover and size can be identical to the most popular balls on the market.
The difference is when it comes to weight and density. The balls will naturally weigh less and be less dense than a regular golf ball. For anyone looking to purchase floating golf balls, here are some great options:
Snugen Float Golf Range Balls
The Snugen Float Range Golf Balls have a 2-piece construction with a 326-dimple pattern and a compression rating of 90, similar to that of a Titleist Pro V1. Designed for ranges with water, they look like a typical yellow range ball with two parallel lines and the words “Floater” and “Range” emblazoned across it in black. The balls are priced at $19.99 per dozen or come in a 48-pack for $58.99. The balls are also available in white with red lettering for the same price.
Jinwei Floating Practice Golf Balls
Each Jinwei Floating Practice Golf Ball weighs 39 grams which is almost 7 grams, or roughly 15%, less than traditional golf balls. Buyers have a choice from two colors, orange and white, and the balls come with an easy-to-carry mesh bag. A pack of ten costs $18.99.
A99 Floating Golf Balls
A99 Floating Golf Balls come in two colors, neon green and orange but are quite expensive when compared to the other options. A dozen of these bad boys will set you back a cool $34.97.
Can I Make a Golf Ball Float?
Yes, it is possible to make a golf ball float in water, but it’s something you can really only do at home. To make a golf ball buoyant, you must first change the density of the water. This can be done easily using salt.
So, if you want to do a little home experiment, grab some sort of container filled with water then gradually add salt and watch that ball rise!
If you are dealing with freshwater though a normal ball will sink!
Do Golf Balls Float: Conclusion
Unfortunately for us golfers, golf balls do not float and, unless golf manufacturers find a way to bend the laws of physics, they aren’t likely to in the future either. We will just have to get used to the fact that once a ball goes for a dip after an errant shot, it’s not resurfacing. And maybe that’s a good thing too, otherwise, it would bring a whole new meaning to the term Play it as it lies!
Any golf balls that do float are ‘fake’ balls. They have been made less dense than a regular ball either by taking out weight or making the ball bigger. They are solely used for practice purposes and are not legal for tournament play. Even if they were legal, players would choose not to use them on account of their reduced weight which severely hinders the distance these balls can go.
Unless the golf course you are playing on has some saltwater hazards, obviously!
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]
Will A Golf Ball Float In Saltwater?
Yes, a golf ball will float in saltwater though it’s not clear just how concentrated it needs to be. If a ball is dropped into the ocean, it will sink.
However, by adding salt to a glass containing water, it is possible to make it dense enough that a ball will float. It is unclear how much salt would need to be added to, let’s say, 100 ml to make it float but it’s a fun home experiment people can try out.
Bryson DeChambeu’s coach uses this method to check his balls are balanced.
Do Golf Balls Soak Up Water?
While it may not seem like it, golf balls do absorb water. Most golfers know that lake balls can feel a little different from regular balls and their performance is reduced.
This may be a cause of concern for players in wetter countries but fear not! It takes about 12 hours for the water to permeate through the cover so playing golf in rainy conditions won’t fundamentally alter the performance of your golf ball.
However, lake balls are big business for a reason. There are millions of balls lost at the bottom of lakes and other water features every year! Golf clubs will often let divers come in to reclaim the balls and split the profits.
Are Golf Balls Harmful To The Ocean?
Sadly yes. A golf ball’s core contains zinc oxide and zinc acrylate which are both considered toxic in aqueous environments. In addition of course aquatic life could swallow the ball and cause problems.