Can You Keep Golf Balls You Find? (Why It Depends)


In golf, it is easy to lose balls due to the nature of the game, so naturally whilst playing you find a lot of golf balls, but can you keep the golf balls you find, or should you leave them where they are?

Golf balls you find in the rough/woods whilst you are playing can be picked up and kept but golf balls on short-grass or close to the fairway you should leave as they may be in play from an adjustment hole. Golf balls in lakes are sold to golf pro shops as ‘lake balls’ and shouldn’t be picked up.

As a general rule, if a ball seems like it could be in play, you should leave it and anything else is free pickings to pick up, I know people who never buy balls and just rely on pick ups to save cash.

Keep reading and I will explain more about the rules of keeping golf balls, how you can find a lost golf ball, how you can track golf balls as if there is a trackable golf ball. Read on to find out.

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Can You Keep Golf Balls You Find? (It Depends)

Many people don’t realize the reusable golf ball mission is worth around 200 million dollars, golf balls that are lost in the water on a course are sold to pro shops as ‘lake balls’, which is the highest profit margin on anything on their shop.

If you are interested in knowing what happens to a golf ball in water it’s more interesting than you think you can see my article, but here is where the law gets sticky.

Golf courses claim to have ownership of all lost balls, and in the UK Mark Collinson was given a six-month jail sentence for diving for balls in a golf club lake, so be careful with finding lost lake balls.

Do you use different colored Golf balls? Learn why you should start using yellow and other colors in my article.

How Do You Find A Lost Golf Ball?

  • After the ball is hit kept watching it until it lands
  • Be realistic about how far you hit the ball and take yardage off for a slice and put yardage on for a hook
  • Get a good line where the ball has finished
  • Identify your ball or use a colored ball to know which ball is yours
  • Walk into the area on the line of the shot
  • Ask your playing partners to watch your shot if it’s sunny
  • Move grass and sticks around to find your ball

After The Ball Is Hit Watch Where It Lands

It seems simple but the temptation is to look away in anger and think abut what you did wrong in your swing after you hit a bad shot, but will this help you find your golf ball?

You need to keep a very close eye on where it went until it lands, otherwise, you will never know where it went. If the ball is near a clearing or trees are in the way, walk towards the side to get the best angle possible clear of any obstacles.

Be Realistic About How Far You Hit The Ball

If you hit a bad shot why are you looking in and around the fairway? It is far more likely you would have hit the ball less far, especially if it was a slice. If you hit a hook look a bit further out and use common sense.

You should know your yardages on both bad and good shots as this will help you in your game whenever you hit a bad shot, and need to perform for the follow up.

To hit the golf ball as straight and far as possible, check out my article.

Get A Good Line Where The Ball Has Finished

Just like how you aim for golf shot, pick an area in the horizon as specific as possible to help you find your ball. It could be a mountain on the horizon or a pylon tower or a shield, anything that helps you distinguish where you ball went.

Identify your Ball Or Use A Coloured ball

If everyone on your course uses the same white Pro V1s how on Earth will you know which ball is yours?

Put an identification mark on your ball using a pen, it could be a smiley face or two dots anything that easily shows which ball is yours, ideally on both sides of the ball.

I think using colored balls is the best way to identify which ball is yours, as most people use white. Yellow is becoming more popular on the PGA tour.

Here is what Bubba Watson had to say about the Pro V1x yellow, who used to play with a pink ball by Volvik.

“I’m loving the new Pro V1x Yellow,” There’s just something about that bright yellow finish where I feel like I can see it better. For me, it was a no brainer.”

Bubba Watson

To know more about colored balls and if there easier to see and why you should start using them, check out my post.

Walk To Your Ball Using The Line Of The Shot

Whenever you hit a golf ball you should imagines a straight line that the ball will travel to, walk up to the ball using this line to help you find the ball.

If it isn’t possible to walk up to the line if your driving a buggy then go to the area you think the ball is in then turn around and face the tee then retrace the line and hopefully you will find your ball.

Ask Your Playing Partners To See Your Shot

When it’s a sunny day it can be difficult tracing your ball after it is struck, so asking your playing partners or someone on the course to help track your ball is a big help.

If you have anger problems playing golf this also helps a lot, and you might not have the restraint to not look back in anger after a bad shot.

Are you curious how much reshafting your clubs should cost, and if you can do it yourself? Learn the facts in my post.

Move Grass And Branches To Find Your Ball

A revised golf rule allows you to move branches or any obstacles when finding your golf ball, if you move your ball by accident like when it’s in long grass you don’t get a penalty but you must replace the golf ball back to its original position.

Move grass whilst searching (new rule) if you move it by against you don’t get a penalty but you must replace the ball to the original position

Is There A trackable Golf ball?

OnCore Golf is developing a golf ball that has electronic sensors to track data which includes the performance of the ball, statistics on every shot, distance, height to bell velocity, and location that is accurate to within a foot.

However it won’t come cheap, the expected plan to offer a 2-ball sleeve for $49.95 almost $25 a ball! But it does have the following features.

OnCore Genius Ball Features

  • GPS location within 1-foot accuracy
  • G-force at impact
  • Initial velocity (Off the tee and average)
  • Carry flight within 1 foot
  • Degree of draw or fade
  • Spin rate (back, side, front)
  • Time in the air
  • Angle of descent
  • Height apex
  • Roll distance

You will be able to track and view your ball flight and a handy mobile app will provide a player’s history on every course using Bluetooth connection, via a small device around the size of a pager that can fit in your bag, pocket, or belt.

If you are interested you can read more about OnCore’s founders here– a story about family and passion for golf.

Or you can use a range finder to give more accurate yardages, and and a better idea of where your golf ball went.

Range finders don’t have to be expensive, get the Gogogo laser range finder with all the bells & whistles you need at an unbeatable price from Amazon.

Does golf club quality really matter? Learn the truth in my article.

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