Should You Clean Your Golf Ball After Every Hole?

Should You Clean Your Golf Ball After Every Hole?

Why you might think the smallest grass stains or speck of dirt on your golf ball is insignificant when compared to your entire round of golf.

The golf ball manufacturers invest millions of dollars in research and development to engineer golf balls down to even the most minute detail, the smallest blemish on the surface of this golf ball can have huge repercussions to your ball flight.

Should you clean your golf ball after every hole?  The answer is yes, absolutely.  If you can and the rules allow, clean and dry your golf ball after every shot.

It can affect how the golf ball reacts coming off the clubface, the distance the ball will travel because of changes in aerodynamics and the amount of spin it creates

Golf Ball Appearance

Even if your golf ball appears to be clean, it is physically impossible for a golf ball to come into contact with the ground and not pick up some dirt.

Any particles that stick to the surface of the ball will affect how the ball moves through the air and the its trajectory, having dirt or mud on the ball will change the total weight, causing it to lose its standard centre of gravity.

Loss Of Distance

They design the dimples on the face of your golf ball to allow it to pass through the air with minimal resistance. Dirt or grass left on the dimples of the golf ball will affect the ball flight, and there’s no way to guarantee how it will fly, or how long the golf ball will fly.

Have a look at the below video, Why Golf Balls have Dimples?

This short video will explain how important these dimples are to the golf ball and how it moves through the air.

Roll Out Of The Golf Ball

When there is dirt on the golf ball, it will also have an effect on how the golf ball rolls on the surface of the green or the fairway.

It is also possible that the ball can have its direction of travel changed by mud or dirt being attached to its surface, the bounce of the ball can be changed and there is a serious possibility that any dirt on its exterior will deviate how it rolls when it hits the ground.

You could see a perfectly hit shot, stop yards short of where you expected it to end up. Even a golf ball that is very wet will change how the golf ball performs in the air.

Loss Of Spin

Dirt on a golf ball or as just mentioned, a little water can cause the golf ball to spin less, and as a result effect the total distance the golf ball travels, it will also react more unpredictably.

This could cause it to lose or gain the golf anything from tens of feet to tens of yards off your golf shot.

Thankfully cleaning your golf ball, both on the course and off isn’t difficult.

Keep Your Golf Game As Simple As Possible

Keeping your golf ball clean will help take out any further variables, to hit a ball from tee to green or from fairway to green in as few shots as possible, should be made slightly easier with a golf ball how you know will react in the air.

The critical element to all of this is striking the golf ball correctly, and then letting the technology on the golf ball to do its thing.

To be able to hit a golf ball correctly is already challenging, so it’s important that both golf ball and club are clean, and free of dirt or excess water.

Especially your golf balls, throughout your round of golf you can clean your golf clubs wherever or whenever you like, however the rules differ with cleaning golf balls.

When a golf course is allowing ‘preferred lies’ which means you are allowed to mark and pick up the golf ball, and then clean it.

When possible use the rules of golf to your advantage and perform the task of cleaning your golf ball.

Cleaning your golf club after every shot to ensure the grooves are free of dirt, and the face of the club is clean.

This should be second nature, and this will ensure as clean a contact as possible with the golf ball. As we mentioned previously dirty golf balls can affect many elements of your game.

They can affect how the golf ball rolls on the green, how the ball reacts off your golf club face, and flies in the air. If you had a dirty golf ball, there is no way to know if it will go right, left, or straight.

But at least if you clean the golf ball, you will know that the golf shot is not poor due to no fault of your own.

If you would like to know more about how the dimples on a golf ball affect its flight then please read our article Best Golf Ball to Cure a Slice or Hook?

When Can You Clean A Golf Ball On The Course?

There are three acceptable times to clean golf balls within the rules of golf.

When you were on the tee, when you’re on the green, and when weather allows for ‘preferred lies’.

For any tee-shots its vital you ensure your golf ball is clean and dry.

When you’re on the green, always mark your ball, pick it up and clean it before taking your next shot.

The same applies if you’re playing preferred lies, and this may be especially important as weather has made fairways and greens dirtier than usual.

How To Clean Your Golf Ball On The Course

Cleaning golf balls isn’t too difficult; you just need to ensure you keep the right equipment to hand. Having a club brush, some water and two towels is advisable.

It may be a good idea to read our article Top Ten Essentials to Have in Your Golf Bag?

Pour some water onto the golf ball and then take your towel and clean the ball and dry it.

If the ball is really dirty, at most golf courses they have a golf ball washer, but it that is not available then take your time and use a towel and water to remove the dirt.

Once you have managed that, make sure to dry the ball using a dry towel, because as we have already mentioned, water on the surface of the golf ball will also have an effect on how the ball fly’s and the trajectory.

Golf while on the surface appears to be a simple game anyone who plays it will tell you that’s not the case.

One of the most important things to remember is to control the part of the game and the factors that can cause you to drop shots during your round.

Cleaning Your Golf Balls At Home, Especially Practice Golf Balls

• First, remove any dried-on clumps of mud by hand

• Fill a bucket or sink with warm water

• Add a good squirt of washing up liquid to the water, this can vary depending on how dirty the golf balls are, and how many golf balls you’re trying to clean

• Leave the golf balls to soak for up to 2 hours

• After removing from them from the water, rinse them under the tap or the garden hose

• Wipe them clean using a dry towel and let them air dry before your next round or practice session.


It is quite unbelievable that a little bit of mud or water can have such an impact on a golf ball, well it can. Golf is hard enough without letting other factors lose you more shots while playing golf.

When you are able and the rules permit, just take your time and clean and dry your golf balls.