Recycled vs. Refinished Golf Balls: What’s The Difference?

Used Golf Balls

I recently had a Rock Head ask about used balls on the RBG Facebook page, so I thought I’d take a moment and give you all a crash course on used golf balls.Every time you hit a new golf ball into the water do you see the money you’re losing? Well, then you should check out used golf balls. Used golf balls generally come in two types: recycled and refinished. But, what’s the difference between recycled and refinished golf balls?

Well, not much. This information comes from Knetgolf, a leader in used golf balls. Every year they recover, process, and market over 20,000,000 to players in 40 countries!

Recycled golf balls are balls that have been found, in a lake for example. They are then washed, and sorted by brand and type and then graded by color and cover condition. They are then sorted into Mint, Grade A and Grade B condition so the player can choose the quality and price point they wish to purchase. Mint recycled balls are a great deal as they are almost like new. They should feel and play as a new ball would. While they may include tiny player marks, they won’t have scuffs or blemishes. These were balls that were probably lost after the first swing or two.

Refinished Golf Balls are taken to the next step. Golf balls are refinished if the ball is 100% intact with no cover abrasions or cuts but is just cosmetically stained. Refinishing is an expensive process so you’ll usually only find high-end refinished golf balls. The refinishing process involves mechanically stripping the outer clearcoat and paint off the ball taking it back to where it was before it was originally painted. The ball is then repainted and then re-clearcoated to ensure a durable product. This is to enhance the cosmetic appearance of the ball without affecting performance. Golf balls are not repaired during the refinishing process. If the golf balls have any abrasion in the cover, they are sold as low-end shag balls

Is there a difference in performance?
Not very much. Outside of cosmetics, the balls in all the various grades tested against new golf balls right out the package show only a very minimal loss, in fact a statistically insignificant loss of carry distance. They were tested with a consistent mechanical driver. The average golfer would not be able to duplicate the swing with any consistency to attain these averages over many shots, this loss of carry distance form 1 -5 yards is absolutely minimal when you take into account all the other factors that come into play when you swing a club… plane of club, follow through, back swing, in/out or out/in, weight shift, lie etc.

Knet Testing

Are used golf balls water-logged?
Not modern golf balls. Modern golf balls are made of various types of plastic, so they don’t absorb water. Older type of wound balls can be water-logged if the outer cover is broken, allowing the water in. Some golfers won’t play recycled golf balls because they mistakenly believe that the quality and distance of the ball will be compromised once it is submerged in water. However, a 2009 white paper study by found that virtually no difference between new and recycled balls of the same brand.

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