“Can I make money from collecting used golf balls and selling them?”
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Anyone who has ever walked a golf course knows that there are countless golf balls lost in the rough, or resting on the muddy bottom of the water hazards. Whether left behind because of frustration, or too difficult to retrieve without tools, these balls are often perfectly serviceable. If you’ve ever swatted a new ball into a lake on the first swing, then you know some of those balls are practically mint condition. Surely, someone would be willing to pay for them, right?
Absolutely. Selling used golf balls can be quite lucrative when done right. Whether you profit in the end depends on how efficiently and cheaply you are able to gather your inventory. So, what’s the best way to go about this?
Securing A Source
It shouldn’t surprise you to find out that the best place to gather quality used golf balls is on a golf course. This is the factor most likely to determine how successful your resale efforts will be. If there are no local golf courses or country clubs for you to use as a resource, don’t travel so far in search of one that the cost of the trip diminishes your gains.
Supposing you do have a likely establishment convenient to you, your first step is to speak with the management to request permission to collect the lost balls. This is a crucial step, as you could get into trouble deciding to roam the property hunting merchandise without permission. You’ll also want to offer to compensate the course by offering a percentage of your profits. Since you absolutely need their cooperation in order to succeed, be generous. A 25% cut is a good fair amount.
If they are receptive, be sure to agree on a schedule before you begin. You’ll want to come when the course is closed. You can’t roam around collecting balls while games are in progress.
Collecting the Balls
Once you have a solid agreement with a course, you can focus on how best to collect the balls. The two main places you’ll be checking are in the underbrush, and within water hazards.
For balls in underbrush, you’ll want to wear the appropriate clothing. Durable, long pants and boots should do the trick, with a pair of gloves to protect your hands when rummaging through the roughage. Have a bag or basket you can wear to place the collected balls into. You can even invest in a grabbing arm to avoid having to bend over as often to collect the balls.
Collecting from water hazards can be trickier. Depending on the size of the hazard, you may have to go diving to get the greatest return. However, there is actually a tool for retrieving balls in the water from the shore. Golf ball retrievers are telescopic poles with some sort of collecting mechanism on the end. While the mechanism varies from brand to brand, any one of them will get the job done.
Selling the Balls
So you’ve made a few forays on the course and picked it clean of errant balls. Now, how to turn these nuggets of white gold into money?
- Clean them. This probably goes without saying, but you’re going to want to get all the muddy muck, dirt, and grime off of the balls. The best way to do this is to put them into a container with soapy water. Use dish soap or car wash soap. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach. Your goal is to remove the dirt without damaging the cover. Scrub them with a towel after washing, and they should clean up nicely.
- Categorize them. Once the balls are clean, you should be able to see their logos and any other identifying marks. Separate them into piles by brand and type. If you happen across any strange or unusual balls, look them up online. Sometimes you’ll find a gem that can be sold for more than the usual used price.
- Price them. Generally, you’ll find that resellers sell balls in lots of 50 or more. You’ll want to price your top brand balls in good condition at around $1 apiece. Lower tier balls in good condition you can sell for half that at $.50. Balls in bad condition, with cuts and serious abrasion, you should price around $.25 each. These prices are guidelines. You should check online to get the best idea of the market prices for your particular merchandise at the time you are selling.
The sale of after market golf balls is a booming business. The Danish Golf Union estimates that golfers in the United States lose 300 million golf balls per year. If you have access to a place where you can gather them, it is likely you’ll find more than enough to make it worth your while.