Golf Ballin' on a budget

Golf Ballin’ On A Budget

As a bogey golfer on a budget, I don't look down on a used ball. In fact, a reclaimed ProV1 can often be a good luck charm of sorts. My Uncle Frank used to say playing a ball found in the woods is merely dooming your shot to return there sooner than later. Still, ball discovery on a golf course can be a bright spot during an otherwise gloomy round.

Much has been made of divers across the US and Canada who brave murky water, snakes, alligators and Sasquatch in search of the "white gold" which has made more than a few such crazed lunatics rich in the process. As for me, I prefer to keep my fingers intact, even if it means I lose a few bucks. Besides, going after a ball in a Florida pond or dense rough is nothing like the benign water hazards and friendly woods I grew up facing in Western New York. I think I'd rather try snatching a beer from John Daly.

Still, even in the unwelcoming rough and undergrowth of southern US courses, a lost ball can be found on occasion with minimal risk to life and limb. Interestingly enough, it's the golfers who can afford to lose the expensive balls who do so most often and don't care to retrieve them. This is how I typically find myself putting with a ProV1.

I don't often buy golf balls, and it really isn't a testament to my game or accuracy. I usually break even during a round with balls lost and found. Every once in a while I'll find a few gems and keep them in play for a round or two. Certainly, I have my personal ball preferences, but let's be honest, I'm just as happy playing a Bridgestone, Srixon, Callaway, Nike or Titleist, as long as it finds the bottom of the hole.

Recently, a friend of mine who lives on a local course did some yard work and bush removal in his backyard. His house is "perfectly" situated about 250 yards from the middle tees off a par 4, which means he picks up at least a dozen errant tee shots in his yard every day. As for the bushes, he pulled 450 little white beauties from a 20-foot area under a few tall pines. I had the pleasure of sorting through his new collection for some loot of my own. The result? A date washing my new balls in my living room, and my wife didn't object.

The yield was 93 like-new high value golf balls that will find their way into my bag as soon as they are soaked, scrubbed and shined to perfection. Like any reasonable and unmedicated golf addict, I found a good movie ("Shawshank Redemption, looping on TNT as usual), sat down on the couch and got to work on polishing my balls.

I start with a Dawn/vinegar solution in a pail of hot water, soaking and agitating the discards until the grime was loose. Then I got to scrubbing with a toothbrush, combined with some good 'ol fashioned elbow grease and after about 2 hours of my time, I had quite the bounty. I finished with a vinegar and baking soda soak for shine and the result was breathtaking. The count was 33 Titleist ProV1s, 9 NXTs, 13 Bridgestones, 10 Taylormade Lethals, 8 Nikes (20Xi/Vapor Black), 11 Callaways and 9 various top brand balls.

I figure my buddy generously donated between $100-150 worth of balls to my future rounds. Sure, I'll buy a few sleeves of new ones for special occasions (TPC Sawgrass next month calls for newbies), but for my weekly rounds I won't be opening a new box any time soon.

Of course I can be sure of one thing. As easily as I came by this generous donation, with one errant swing I will just as quickly make the day of another enterprising golf prospector who has the balls to search in the wild hazards of Florida golf courses!