Knowing how best to search for a lost golf ball will save you shots, money and stress – just the kind of win-win-win scenario all golfers yearn for

7 Tips To Find Lost Golf Balls

Few things increase the golfer’s stress and 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, where everything possible must be done to try to prevent the untimely loss of two shots.

Giving yourself the best chance when searching for a lost ball is a triple win scenario, for not only will it alleviate that stress (is there a better feeling in golf than finally finding your ball as the clock ticks on and hope seems to be fading?), but it will also save you from the stroke and distance penalty of trudging back to the tee or where you last played from (effectively two shots), and a pretty penny too if you’re playing premium golf balls.

So how should you go about the search for a lost golf ball? These seven essentials will increase your chances of success…

WATCH: 7 Tips To Find Lost Golf Balls


7 Tips To Find Lost Golf Balls

7. Keep watching your ball until after 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?

Wheeling away in “tour disgust” as your ball veers away left or right may be an automatic reaction, but try to resist it, for if you can’t then pick up the ball’s flight as you suddenly remember you’re going to need to find it, you could be in big trouble.

Tour pros have the benefit of caddies for whom finding their boss’s ball is of mutually beneficial interest, and if you make too much of a song and dance over your disgust, there is a danger that you may distract playing partners or fellow competitors from following your ball too keenly too.

6. 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 a low-running hook that hits the left-hand rough early without the benefits of any fairway run, there is no point searching up where your fellow-competitors’ balls are lying in the fairway.

Golfers all too often refuse to accept that mishits or poor ball flights go nowhere near as far as normal.

5. Get a good line on where the ball has finished

By watching closely and getting a really good line on where your golf ball has gone, you are way more likely to find it.

The tip here is to pick out something on the horizon or a notable feature that is easily identifiable and as specific as possible so that when you get into the area you can pick out that spot. Therefore you will have a much better idea as to where your ball ended up.

4. Put an identification mark on your golf ball

Marking your golf ball with a unique identification mark will allow you to identify it a lot easier so if you do hit it into an iffy area, then you will not confuse your ball with someone else’s.

3. 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. More often then not you will then stumble upon your golf ball.

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.

2. Ask your playing partners to watch your shot

If you are playing into the sun for example, 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.

Many eyes make lighter work...

Many eyes make lighter work…

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.

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.

1. Move grass and leaves when searching

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 having a thorough search in areas of long grass, bushes and trees by moving things around.

If you do accidentally move your golf ball when searching, then you must replace the ball to its original position or in the area to the best of your knowledge.

Get stuck in and properly look for your golf ball.

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 Pro V1s; or better still 3) lessons with a PGA pro to help iron out the swing faults underlying that perpetually destructive slice!


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