Do Golf Balls Float? (Why It Depends)


Golf balls are an interesting object, made out of rubber and covered with either plastic called thermoplastic resin or urethane which is also used in pesticides. One common question asked about Golf balls is if they float, in this article you will know the answer.

A Golf Ball has a density of 1.015 g/mL with water having a density of 1 g/ml so a Golf ball will not float as it is heavier. In Saltwater, the density is 1.025 g/ml, it is heavier than a Golf ball so the Golf ball will float. Density is the measure of how much material there is in a set space.

I will explain why a Golf ball floats, and how you can make a Golf ball float in water, and what happens to a Golf ball in the water. Read on to find out.

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Why A Golf Ball Floats

When objects are placed in water, some will sink and some will float, when a heavier object like a rock or Golf ball is in the water it will sink to the bottom because it is heavier than the water that is holding them up.

Lighter objects like paper and leaves will float because they are lighter than the water holding them up, this is known as buoyancy and objects that are hollow like Ping Pong balls will float.

Golf balls are not hollow like Ping Pong balls and are made of a large core of rubber and a thin plastic cover, this material is strong as a Golf ball is designed to be hit multiple times by a Golf club so this adds weight to the ball.

Saltwater contains salt, this added weight allows it to hold heavier objects so the objects float, as Golf Balls have a density of 1.015 g/mL once enough salt gets added to the water so it becomes 1.016 g/ml Golf balls will float.

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How Do You Make Golf Ball Float In Water?

What You Need To Make A Golf Ball Float

  • Golf Ball
  • Water
  • Salt
  • A Tall thin transparent container, larger than the Golf ball like a vase
  • Food Colouring
  • Mixing Container
  • Stirring Spoon
  • Masking Tape
  1. Fill the tall container half full of water and pour it into the mixing container
  2. Place the Golf ball into the mixing container, you will see it sinks keep adding salt and stir until the Golf ball floats
  3. Take the Golf ball out and put it into the tall container, pour the salt solution into the tall container
  4. Add fresh water into the mixing container(add enough to fill the top half of the tall container) Add 4 drops of food coloring
  5. Slowly add the colored fresh water to the tall container until it’s full
  6. With a piece of masking tape and pen, mark the height of the ball in the container (is the Golf ball in the same place after several days)

You will notice the Golf ball is not as defense as the saltwater, so the ball floats on top of the saltwater, whilst the colored fresh water is not as dense as the Golf ball so it sinks. Eventually, as the saltwater and colored fresh water mix, the ball will sink as it is heavier than the water mix.

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What Happens To Golf Ball In Water

Golf balls absorb water, it takes around 12 hours for the water to penetrate the plastic covering and go into the core. The amount varies depending on the type of ball and how long it has been submerged. A multi-layer ball can lose around 15 yards of distance after 6 months of being underwater.

What Factors Affect How Much Water A Golf Ball Absorbs

  • The type of ball (2-piece, 3-piece, 4-piece)
  • The cover material (Surlyn or urethane)
  • The temperature of the water (warmer water will increase absorption)
  • How long it’s submerged
  • As the core absorbs water, it can expand and separate from the cover or mantle layers

Being in the water makes the Golf balls harder, and makes the Golf ball less round at the point of impact making it fly shorter.

In Tests of a 2- piece ball the carry and roll after eight days of being submerged was 244.9 yards compared to 250.7 yards when new, a loss of 5.8 yards in only eight days.

After 3 months there is an additional 3 yard loss, a multi-layer ball has a 6 yard loss of distance after eight days, a 12-yard loss after 3 months and 15-yard loss after 6 months.

Water in your Golf balls will forever affect your Golf balls performance and distance.

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Can You Recycle Lake Golf Balls?

Companies like LostGolfBalls have a business based on finding and recycling the countless Golf balls at the bottom of lakes and oceans around the world.

100 Divers across the United States as shown in the above video dive in Golf courses in 10-20 deep pitch-black water to find lost Golf balls, it isn’t a job for the faint of heart as every other year a Diver in Florida or South Carolina gets attached by a Gator!

After the Diver will distribute the Balls to companies like LostGolfBall and a former company SunShineGolfBalls will receive 5-6 million Golf balls a year, where they are counted and washed and organized into grades ranging from A-D and sold to used Golf ball retailers, they are sold for around half price of a new ball.

Golf balls don’t decompose and countless plastic balls littered throughout the world’s oceans in no laughing matter, whilst some Golfers wouldn’t dream of using used Golf balls LostGolfBall is doing great environmental work making a business out of a pollutive aspect of the sport.

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