Do Golf Balls Float? Answering This Age Old Question

Growing up, I would practice the flop shot over my pool to add an element of danger. Naturally, I miscalculated many shots causing the ball to drop into the pool and sink to the bottom.

New innovations optimize compression, distance, and spin, but do golf balls float now? That is the question we’ll answer in this post.

I address the materials and density of a standard golf ball and look at whether any specific design can float.

For those not moved by a floating ball, you may prefer reading an article on how to clean your golf balls and make them look new.

 

Do Golf Balls Float?

The standard golf ball does not float. If you ever hit a ball into a water hazard, you will see it resting at the bottom of the lake.

 

Why Not?

The core reason why golf balls do not float is that they are denser than water. There is no air in a golf ball, and they carry a fair amount of mass. USGA rules dictate that a golf ball not exceed 1.62-ounces in weight and 1.68-inches in diameter.

In addition, the average density of a golf ball is roughly 1.09 grams/milliliter, which is more than the density of water. As a result, golf balls sink to the bottom of lakes.

Golf Monthly explains the inner core of a ball comprises various rubbers which combine with a surlyn or urethane elastomer cover to maximize distance and spin. Although ideal for keeping your ball in the air longer, this combination dismantles buoyancy. Therefore, causing your ball to sink and join the other lake golf balls.

 

Can You Make a Golf Ball Float (or Buy Special Balls That Do Float)?

Despite my earlier statement that a golf ball sinks, different types of balls do float. However, floater golf balls are a popular feature at driving ranges with ample water because they reduce stock loss.

Garret Clarke played nine holes with floater range golf balls to compare them to a standard design. He found that these balls generate increased spin, which caused wood and long iron shots to balloon, leading to a loss of distance.

Although Clarke said he felt little difference, other than the launch, these Surlyn cover balls do not have the durability for a course.

Added to the ability to hit floating golf balls, you can also include science to make them float. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry explains that saltwater is denser than a golf ball, causing it to float in these conditions.

Overall, you can purchase golf balls that float, but they are best kept for practice purposes. The balls that optimize your distance on a golf course will sink when they come into contact with H2O.

Floating Golf Balls

As I mentioned before, you can acquire floating models, but they typically serve as range balls. Manufacturers use two methods to produce floating golf balls.

The first is to enhance the diameter and maintain the same weight as standard balls. Conversely, manufacturers may reduce the weight and maintain the required diameter. Despite the different methods, the key aim is to reduce the density of a ball so that it floats.

A patent by Sutherland Golf details that their floating golf balls contained monomers, elastomers, polymerization initiators. By binding these different polymers and including a small percentage of microscopic hollow glass spheres, the ball can be manipulated in the manufacturing process to reduce density.

Best Floating Golf Ball: Snugen Floater Golf Balls

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Float
  • The 326-dimple pattern works to optimize your ball flight
  • The 90-compression core rating suits golfers with moderate swing speeds
  • Includes a carry bag.

Cons

  • Durability
  • Produces increased spin causing faster swingers to balloon their shot.

The Snugen Floater golf balls are sold in a pack of twelve and are designed for the average golfer to practice around water.

Crafted with 326-dimples, these balls deliver a high launching shot, with increased spin for a soft landing.

Furthermore, its compression rating of 90 suits the average golfer with a moderate swing speed, producing similar results to if you were on a golf course.

Overall, if the only space you have to hit is water, these floating balls are a worthwhile investment. It prevents a lost golf ball after each shot. Plus, it gives you the freedom to practice without being judged by environmentalists for hitting plastic balls into your water source.

Saltwater

If you listened in science class, you should remember that saltwater carries a higher density than its fresh counterpart. While freshwater has a 1g/ml density, adding salt bumps up that number. Therefore, a golf ball with a 1.09g/ml density should float in saltwater.

Just because you add salt to your existing pool or pond doesn’t mean it will float. You need to ensure that it contains sufficient salt to make an impact. Otherwise, your ball will sink to the bottom every time.

 

Do Golf Balls Float: FAQs

What Makes Golf Balls Float?

Golf range balls that float either feature an increased diameter or reduced weight. This combination reduces its density to make it lower than water. Therefore, the balls float on the top of a lake or your swimming pool.

Do Golf Balls Sink In Freshwater?

Yes, standard golf balls sink in freshwater. That is because the density of freshwater is approximately 1g/ml, compared to a golf ball’s 1.09g/ml. As a result, the ball sinks to the bottom whenever they touch freshwater.

Conversely, golf balls do not sink in salt water because the higher the saline solution, the more its density increases.

How Far Do Floating Golf Balls Go?

In a YouTube video by GM_Golf, they showed that the floating golf balls caused them to lose distance. It could have been their swings on that day. However, as solid golfers, the issue likely lies in the construction:

The ball is set up to generate increased backspin rpm, producing a higher launch and soft landing. However, this causes faster players to generate excess spin, leading to a ballooned strike and a loss of distance.

 

Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years.