Want Extra Cash? Learn How to Sell Used Golf Balls

Selling used golf balls is a great way to bring in extra cash, and for some, it can even be a full-time job! Selling used golf balls may seem simple at first. And, well, it can be. But, there are ways that you can make serious cash by selling golf balls. This, unsurprisingly, is a bit more complicated than just finding random balls and selling them.

There are many websites that you can sell your golf balls on. There are even some companies that hire people to find them used golf balls. Selling used golf balls is a great way to make money. But before you sell them, it is important to know how much to charge and how to make sure that they are ready for sale.

Golf Ball hunting is a very lucrative business. If you choose to sell random balls you have found over the years, you can make a little cash, and if you choose to invest time and hunt for them, you can make a sizeable sum. But, whatever you choose to do, it is important to know some tricks of the trade before you start selling and hunting.

First, Prepare Golf Balls Before Selling

Over the years, you may have collected many golf balls that are stacking up in your house. Whether they are old golf balls you no longer use, ones that were hit into your yard, or golf balls that you hunted for, there is a chance that you will want to sell them and make some cash.

But, before you sell them, you must make sure that they are ready to be sold and haven’t gone completely bad. This process is not all that difficult! First off, you have to make sure that they are cleaned off. You should then sort them based on condition and sometimes even brand before you post them for sale.

1. How to Properly Clean Golf Balls

If you are going to sell golf balls, then it is a good idea to clean them off, especially if you retrieved them from a water hazard. Since you are selling them, you will want them to be in the best condition possible! You don’t want to go around selling mud-caked golf balls since that could give you a bad reputation.

Even if you do not think people will be concerned with how they look, cleaning the golf balls does much more than just make them look nice. One of the reasons that most golf balls are white is because it makes them distinguishable from most everything else on the course. 

Golfweek has two articles, “How to Clean Golf Balls at Home,” and “How to Clean Dirty Golf Balls,” both of which are great articles on how to clean golf balls that have gotten dirty. Both articles work well with each other, so here is a summary of the major points that both articles made: 

  • Wipe the balls clean with a towel. You could also rinse them with water; a hose will work best.
  • Fill up your sink or a bucket with warm water. Put about “half a cup to a cup of liquid dish soap [into] the water.” How much soap you add will depend on how many golf balls you are cleaning.

Other options you can use instead of soap include undiluted bleach or ammonia (don’t mix these though as they are hazardous together).

  • Put the golf balls into the water and soak them for about one or two hours if you use soap. If you use ammonia or undiluted bleach, do it for ten to twenty minutes.
  • Take the balls out of the water and rinse them. Then, wipe any excess dirt off with a towel. 
  • For anything that does not come off, use a sponge or toothbrush to get those tough areas.
  • When you are done, double-check to make sure everything is cleaned off, pay special attention to make sure the dimples are clean.
  • Finally, let them air dry.
  • Polishing the balls is optional, but it is nice to give the balls that extra shine, which makes them super easy to spot.

It is important to mention that you should not use abrasive cleaners, such as acids, to clean your golf balls. This will damage the ball’s cover, which will harm its performance. 

Also, if you do not have a lot of extra time, some people wash the golf balls in their dishwasher. For most golf balls, this should not damage their covers. If you do this, just make sure that they are not washed along with any dishes

2. Sorting Golf Balls and Assigning a Price

golf balls laying in the grass

Now, it is time to sort out the golf balls that you have collected and assign a price to them. 

Chances are that the balls you have collected are in different conditions. Some may be pristine after you clean them. On the other hand, they could be a bit worn. The condition that the ball is in, along with the brand, will determine how much you can make reselling them.

Because of this, it is useful to sort them!  GolfLink gives some general guidelines on how to grade and sort recovered golf balls after cleaning them [note that these prices are what you can charge if you sell independently.  Selling to a company will result in a smaller payout]: 

  • Grade A: These are name-brand golf balls that are in good condition. These balls can generally be sold at $1 a ball.
  • Grade B: These are the off-brand golf balls that you will find, and they can generally be sold for $0.50 each.
  • Grade C: These are both on-brand and off-brand balls that are damaged (i.e. “balls that have marks or discoloration. Although it is mentioned in the link, most people will not buy balls that have scratches). These can be sold at $0.25 each—[If you are selling to courses, they may not buy balls that are this damaged].

It is also important that you sell the balls in big batches. For example, most people will not pay for a bucket of 25 used balls. Instead, you will want to sell the golf balls in batches, generally ranging in the hundreds. Golflink recommends that you sell them in batches of 500 balls each. 

Selling your Recycled Golf Balls

Now comes the fun part, selling the golf balls you have collected and making that sweet, sweet profit!  

Depending on how many you have to sell, that profit can be pretty high too!  In fact, according to Golfweek, people who retrieve, refurbish, and resell used balls could make $50,000-$70,000 dollars a year (Note, this can be found in the second article on the linked page). The Penny Hoarder notes that some report making about $100,000 a year!

But you need to know where you can sell them first. In general, the best places to sell golf balls are online. Some other great, offline places to sell, according to Golfweek, are at golf courses, practice facilities, and flea markets.

Where to Sell Golf Balls Online

The best place to sell golf balls is undoubtedly the internet, because of the plethora of places that you can sell them.

eBay will be the go-to for most people. With its ease of use, ability to reach a large audience, and the fact that no company is dictating how you sell them, this is a great option. If you sell on eBay, make sure that you provide plenty of images and state the condition of the balls clearly. This could result in a faster sale because you are transparent and more trustworthy to buyers.

1. eBay

If you do sell on eBay, though, it is important to make sure to stay safe and make sure that you are not being scammed by the buyer. Here is a link to eBay’s official guide on how to stay safe from scammers.

If you do local pickup, that is, meeting the buyer in person, make sure you do it during the day in a busy area. Preferably, it would be best to meet them in a store, coffeehouse, etc. 

If they ask you to meet at their house (or if they ask to meet at your home), if they ask to meet in the early morning, dusk, or night, or if they want to meet in an area without many people; it would be best to cancel the sale. This may seem overboard to some, but it never hurts to be extra careful.

2. Used Golf Ball Marketplaces

LostGolfBalls.com and Golf Balls Direct are other websites where you can sell, and buy, used golf balls. But, you won’t be as free with how you sell as you are on eBay. The websites often have their own grading scales you have to follow. Some also may require a minimum amount of balls that you need to have to sell to them.

Selling to Golf Courses, Practice Facilities, and At Flea Markets

Golfweek wrote a great article discussing the non-virtual places that you can sell golf balls. In the article, they discuss how golf courses, practice facilities, and flea markets will be your best bet if you are looking to sell golf balls offline. So, if you are unsure about selling online, or just want multiple sources of income, choose one of these!

According to Golfweek, it is usually public and municipal golf courses that will buy used balls, and places like country clubs will usually not buy them. One great thing about golf courses is that they buy the golf balls in bulk, and you just need to clean them!  You don’t have to worry about separating and sorting them!

golf balls in a rack on the ground

If the golf balls you sell are in decent condition, good enough for the driving range, Golfweek says you can get “5 to 15 cents per ball.” Although this may seem low at first when you are selling hundreds or thousands of balls, that 5 to 15 cents really adds up!

Golfweek notes that Practice Facilities will be your best bet. You do not need to separate your golf balls for practice facilities either!  Pricewise, you can get about 5-15 cents per ball!

The last major option you have for selling golf balls in-person is going to flea markets to sell them. Here you want to clean and sort the balls because that’s the last thing your customers will want to do. As with the other options, the price you can get varies. But, Golfweek does note that you can possibly get half the market price for Grade A balls.

Collecting Golf Balls–Getting Permission to Hunt

As you can see, selling gold balls can be a surprisingly lucrative business. The thing is, though, even if you have been playing golf for your whole life, you probably do not have an infinite amount of golf balls to resell. And, if you want to turn this into a side business or a full-on career, you are going to have to start golf ball hunting!

Before you go and look for them, though, the most important thing that you need to do is get permission to collect them. Unsurprisingly, it is illegal to go on grounds after hours to collect them without permission from the course. But, even during hours, many golf courses would not be pleased with someone standing in a water trap collecting stray golf balls.

So, if you plan on hunting for them at a golf facility, you need to get permission from the people who run it first. The Penny Hoarder (linked above) says that most major golf courses will have preexisting deals with other recovery divers. So, it will be best to go to the smaller, mom-and-pop courses that probably do not have arrangements like this.

One thing you should do is cut the owners of the course in on a deal when asking permission to golf ball hunt. It is common to give the course about 25% of your revenue since they are permitting you to hunt for the golf balls on their property. Don’t shortchange them, as that’ll just give you a reputation of unreliable and other courses may not allow you to work on their property.

If you prove to be a reliable and trustworthy business partner with these courses, there is a chance that you could work your way up from the mom-and-pop courses and get contracts at larger, more popular courses. Which, in turn, could result in more stray balls you can collect, and more money made in the long run.

Collecting Golf Balls – Using the Right Tools

Now that you have permission from a golf course (or golf courses) to use their grounds to hunt for balls, it is time to start getting the right gear together. What you can afford and how much money you want to make will determine what kind of supplies you need to buy. 

I should note that most of these methods are designed for retrieval from water traps, as the majority of lost balls will be found there.  

Diving for Golf Balls

The Best way to hunt for balls is by diving for them!  This is the easiest way to hunt for them because you basically just have to swim around the bottom of the water trap and pick up the balls as you go. The thing is, this method is best if you are doing this professionally because it can cost lots of time and money.

One of the costs you must take into account is the diving certification. The prices of these courses usually cost a few hundred dollars. Then, you have to take into account the price of the gear you need to buy. When it is all said and done, you could be pushing a thousand dollars in costs. 

You also must take into account the time you will need to spend taking the courses. These courses typically include an online section, for which you will have to study. Also, they have hands-on lessons you have to take, too. 

The time it takes to complete really depends from person to person. It can be completed very quickly, but this is very difficult for most people. In general, it will be best to space the lessons out over a matter of a few weeks. That way, you will more likely retain the information you learn!

Once you have all this ready to go, do not forget a mesh net to load up the golf ball into!  You need one of these if you want to get a worthwhile haul! 

Golf Ball Retriever

Another option you have is a golf ball retriever. If you have not seen these before, they are quite an interesting tool! It is an extendable pole with a scoop at the end of it. All you need to do is extend the pole and scoop up the golf balls. So, the biggest advantage of the golf scoop is that it is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to the expenses you could have with diving lessons and equipment. In fact, most golf ball retrievers are $30 and under!  

But, it has major disadvantages too. You can only scoop a few balls at a time, and you won’t be able to retrieve golf balls from the deeper parts of the water hazard due to limits on how far the golf ball retriever can extend. Even if you had one or two people working with you, you would not get nearly as many balls as you would while diving.

If you go the route of using a golf ball retriever, you will want to purchase something like the Search ‘N Rescue Stretcher Golf Ball Retriever (link to Amazon). Models like this allow you to pick up multiple balls at a time. Some models only allow you to scoop one at a time, so it is important to make sure you are purchasing the right tool.

Golf ball retrievers could be great for kids that are trying golf ball hunting as a way to make some money, that way you don’t have to spend hundreds on diving gear for them. It is also a great option for those that just want to make a little money on the side.

Wading in the Water

Another option you have is to wade through the water and scoop up the balls as you go. The major things you will need are fishing pants, tall, thick rubber books, and maybe some rubber gloves. You will also want to get something like an extendable sand sifter and some mesh bags.

Basically, you will just want to wade around in the lake and use the sifter to pick up groups of balls that you can put into the mesh bag. Again, this is still cheaper than diving. But you could still pay in the low hundreds, depending on the quality of the equipment you get. Although, if you cannot afford that, you could pay below $100 if you get equipment that is a bit cheaper and maybe slightly lower quality.

Although you will not get as many balls as you would diving, you will most likely get more than you would by using the golf ball retriever. Also, similar to the golf ball retriever, this method would be best for kids that are trying to start a small business, or for someone looking to make a bit of money on the side!

Golf Ball Rake

Are you tired of skimming the water for golf balls now?  Well, you can always see if you can make any finds in the rough!  Although the balls will not be as plentiful here, you should still be able to find some!

One great tool to help collect golf balls on land is a golf ball rake. They can often be made at home, using PVC pipes, for a fairly low price.

This device is a great way to get a group of balls to one area. Just like you rake leaves into piles, you do the same with the golf ball rake except, well, you are just raking balls together. Then, all you have to do is load them up into the bags, clean them, sort them, and sell them!

Staying Safe while Hunting for Golf Balls

Staying safe while searching for golf balls is a very important aspect of this work. Unsurprisingly, one of the major things you need to do to stay safe when you are diving is to be knowledgeable on how to operate your equipment effectively. Improper use will cause serious injury.

In southern states such as Florida and Louisiana, safety measures are a bit more complex, though. As most people know, southern states like these are famous for their dangerous animals, such as alligators and water moccasins. And, even golf courses have these dangerous animals like this. In fact, they are often seen on southern golf courses. 

Another potential danger is the amoeba that can reside in stagnant bodies of water in southern states. These are dangerous parasites that can enter through your mouth, ears, nose, cuts, etc. These can cause serious infections and even damage your brain. Although the water will be most dangerous, there is a chance there could be critters in the rough. With the high grass and shade, animals like snakes and bugs like spiders will love hanging out here.

If you live in one of these states and want to take this up as a job or hobby, it is important to be educated about these dangers. You need to research signs to look out for that could indicate a body of water is dangerous, whether it is due to animals, bacteria, or both. You also need to be aware of your surroundings on land.

Northern states, you get off a bit easier. There are far fewer dangers than those that southern states have, and you can rest a bit easier. But, it is still important to be aware of the dangers that things such as stagnant water could bring. As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry!

In Conclusion

If you want to get some extra money, selling used golf balls is a great route to go!

With the benefits and ease of modern technology, it is easier than ever to sell used goods!  If you use all the elements, both online and in-person, that are at your disposal, you will easily sell those used golf balls that have been piling up in the corner!

Maybe you are interested in making this a full-time job or second income too!  The best thing about this job is that you can be almost any age to do it!  So, whether you are 16 and looking to start a small business or 65 and want something to do in retirement, this is a great way to make some cash!

Just remember, always make sure that the golf course is ok with you searching for forgotten golf balls. Before you go out, make sure you have the right equipment for the job. And especially if you live in the south, make sure you aware of the potential dangers and how to spot and avoid them! 

Here’s to great success on your new venture! 

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli is the founder of TopRankGolf, a passionate golfer with 25 years of experience playing and coaching golfers around the world. He's dedicated to helping golfers learn and enjoy the game of golf.