Refinished Vs. Recycled Golf Balls – What’s The Difference?

Every time you hit a new golf ball into the water or the forest or desert, do you see your dollar bills floating away?

If this sounds like you then used golf balls should be on your radar.

Used golf balls generally come in two types: recycled and refinished.

But, What’s the difference between recycled and refinished golf balls?

Let’s start by saying all golf balls after they have been hit once are used golf balls.

When recovered, balls that are of great quality but cosmetically challenged are put through a refinishing process.

The Golf Ball Refinishing Process

Refinishing is an expensive process so you’ll usually only find high-end refinished golf balls, or golf balls which started at a new retail of approximately $25 or more. 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 clear coat is applied 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, not refinished.

The Golf Ball Recycling Process

Recycled golf balls are balls that have been found, then washed, and sorted by brand and type and then graded by color and cover condition. They are sorted into 3 qualities so the player can choose the quality and price point they wish to purchase. Like refinished golf balls, Recycled golf balls should feel and play as a new ball would.

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, such as plane of club, follow through, back swing, in/out or out/in, weight shift, lie etc.

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, pre 2000, can be water-logged if the outer cover is broken, allowing the water in. Balls in this condition would never make it to the consumer market, rather they would be broken down and sent to plastic recyclers.

Is There A Price Difference?

Pre-Owned golf balls are priced in relation to the new golf ball equivalent and the supply and demand of that particular golf ball.

Recycled golf balls in top cosmetic condition would be more finite then refinished golf balls.

Therefore typically refinished golf balls will offer a lower price, and a more consistent quality and availability.

Who Sells Recycled & Refinished Golf Balls?

Used golf balls can be found in just about every sales and marketing channel in over 43 countries. Primary markets include Internet Retailers, Traditional Retailers, Premium Incentives, Pro Shops, and International Wholesalers for local distribution.


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