Few things increase a golfer’s anxiety levels more than the uncertainty of whether or not they’re going to find a stray golf ball, especially late in the round. With a good score going, everything possible must be done to prevent the untimely loss of two shots.
We should also say that to save ourselves money, it makes total sense to do our best to try and find golf balls on the course, especially if we are used to using one of the best premium models. After all, each Pro V1 is worth several dollars so to avoid having to buy another dozen so soon, you need to know how to properly look for your golf balls.
But how should you go about the search for a lost ball? It's not often discussed but we think these seven essentials tips in the video and article below will really increase your chances of success…
1. Keep watching your ball until it lands
This may sound obvious, but how often do golfers fail to follow this clear-cut number one priority when it comes to finding errant golf balls? Turning away in “tour disgust” as your ball veers left or right may be an automatic reaction, but try to resist it. If you don't follow the flight, you could end up in even more trouble. Don't forget, tour pros have caddies and fans lining each hole to help them. Us mere mortals are on our own, so don't compound an error with another error.
2. Be realistic about how far the shot has gone
You may be as long as the people you are playing with, but if you’ve hit a high cut into the right-hand rough, or you're hooking the golf ball into the left-hand rough and missing out on the benefits of any fairway run, there is no point being unrealistic. Golfers all too often refuse to accept that mishits or poor ball flights go nowhere near as far as normal. This also ties into our above point because if you keep watching the ball until after it lands, you will know roughly where the ball is.
3. Put an identification mark on your ball
There are a few reasons why you should mark your golf ball. While it's not required as per the rules, a unique mark will give golfers a better chance of identifying their ball should they hit it into trouble. It will also allow absolute peace of mind that it is your ball and not to be confused with someone else's. We would also possibly recommend using golf balls with distinctive markings on them like the TP5 Pix and Tour Response Stripe models, or the Callaway Truvis or Triple Track finishes.
4. Get a good line on where the ball has finished
It sounds simple, and it is, but by concentrating and getting a good line on where your ball has finished, you are way more likely to find it. As mentioned above, golfers are often too busy berating themselves that they forget about what's most important - the next shot! The tip here is to pick out something on the horizon or a notable feature that is easily identifiable and as specific as possible. This will ensure you're searching in the right area and are therefore more likely to find it.
5. Walk into the area on the line of the shot
Having got a good line on the tee shot we recommend walking along this line towards where you think your golf ball is - assuming that is possible. If you do this, more often than not you will be pleased to find that you can call off the search early. If that doesn't work then we recommend patrolling the target area up and down in a fairly regimented fashion. Sometimes walking the same way means you might not be able to see the ball compared to a different angle.
6. Ask your playing partners to watch your shot
If you are playing into the sun, and you forgot your sunglasses, it makes perfect sense to have a word with your playing partners asking them to watch your shot closely. Just by making sure they are paying attention you are more likely to find wayward shots.
Additionally, no-one else is going to look for your ball overly enthusiastically if you’re seen as someone reluctant to venture into the rough and help when they have strayed offline. This is definitely one of the etiquette mistakes to avoid in golf. So show willing when the call arises, and your fellow competitors will be far more inclined to reciprocate as and when required later in the round.
7. Move grass and leaves when searching
While there is still a penalty if you accidentally move your own golf ball in certain circumstances, in the new rules introduced in 2019, the penalty for accidentally moving your ball while searching for it was removed. As a result, we recommend being thorough in areas of long grass, bushes and trees by moving things around. If you do accidentally move your ball when searching, you must replace it as close to its original position as possible.
And if you do find yourself searching for lost balls too often, we would suggest investing in one of three things...
1. An extending ball retriever
2. A golden retriever - or other pooch - with a well-trained nose for sniffing out Titleist Pro V1s
3. Best of all, some lessons with a PGA pro to help iron out the underlying swing faults that are causing you to regularly hit slices and pulls into trouble!
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A golfer for most of his life, Sam is a Senior Staff Writer for Golf Monthly.
Working with golf gear and equipment over the last six years, Sam has quickly built outstanding knowledge and expertise on golf products ranging from drivers, to balls, to shoes.
He combines this knowledge with a passion for helping golfers get the best gear for them, and as such Sam manages a team of writers that look to deliver the most accurate and informative reviews and buying advice. This is so the reader can find exactly what they are looking for.
Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website, whilst he is also responsible for all content related to golf apparel.
He also oversees all Tour player content as well so if you need to know what clubs Tiger or Rory has in play, Sam is the person to ask.
Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a handicap of five.
Sam's What's In The Bag:
Driver: Titleist TS3 (9 degrees)
Fairway Wood: Callaway Paradym (15 degrees), Nike Covert Tour 2.0 (19 degrees)
Irons (4-PW): Titleist AP2
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 54˚, 58˚
Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5
Ball: Srixon Z-Star Diamond
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