For some it’s a regular routine, for others it’s just about not letting go until the ball is lost. But how often should you change your golf ball? What should you watch out for and how do scuff marks and cut marks affect performance? We take a look…

The simplest answer to the question of how often should you change your golf ball is that there are no set rules. Some Tour players change their ball after a certain number of holes, but the truth is that this is based more on superstition than the diminishing quality of the ball itself.

Chances are an amateur won’t, and instead keeps their golf ball in play longer than Tour players. Partly because they don’t focus too much on branding the golf ball, but also because of the cost of changing the ball frequently.

Related: How to clean your golf clubs

How often should you change your golf ball

Most amateurs will use a variety of different balls, while professionals will stick to one brand.

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

In recent years, equipment manufacturers have taken giant steps to improve the durability of their balls. The days of taking a slightly thin approach shot and seeing a smiling face on your Balata are well and truly over.

Today’s golf balls can withstand a multitude of different hits and environments. Better paint finishes and sturdier construction make modern golf balls much tougher. However, there are essential landmarks to watch out for…


Most often this happens when the ball makes contact with a tree or road. However, golf balls can scuff when they come into contact with wedges on pitch or bunker shots. The sharp grooves, combined with the amount of time the ball stays on the face, can make the surface of the ball rough.

How often should you change your golf ball

A single bunker shot can scratch your golf ball

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

In any case, a scratch is not necessarily a sign that the ball should be removed from play. Our advice would be to clean the ball and then see how bad it looks.

Play it for a hole or two and you’ll probably find that the scratch mark doesn’t affect ball performance. Examine it closely and, of course, if the ball is not in good shape, exchange it, otherwise a scuffed ball is not necessarily a reason to change it.

Cutting marks

Cut marks, usually caused by thin iron blows, are more of a problem. The good news is that these are very rare. Thinned chip or pitch shots usually come out unscathed. Again, the damage might not be as bad as it first appears.

Clean the ball and watch it very closely. Has the smooth, rounded surface of the ball changed? The place where you will notice it the most is on the green. Any sign that the ball is rolling strangely is moving off the line, and you should consider using a new ball.

How often should you change your golf ball

A slight scratch like the one pictured here will make almost no difference to your shots.

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

The truth is that most damage that can occur during a round of golf has no bearing on the performance of the ball. We all like to use a fresh ball straight from the pack, but golf is played in a natural landscape and the appearance of your ball will change as you play.

If you manage to keep the same one in play from start to finish, only then will we think about removing it and adding it to the training bag!