For a guy who doesn’t play golf (or even one who does), the retrieval of ‘Lake Balls’ is somewhat of a mystery!
So in order to find out, The Social Golfer asked leading Lake Balls provider Scott Phillips of Premier Lake Balls, how it’s done…
Lake Balls – The Collection
Firstly, let’s start with the basics – this should never be undertaken without professional supervision.
Water on the golf course isn’t just a hazard to those playing, it can be laced with chemicals, laden with bacteria that can cause lockjaw and a plethora of other infections.
And of course, in some countries, they are home to snapping turtles, poisonous snakes and alligators.
So think again before diving in head first to retrieval your ball, following a wayward shot.
Whilst many may assume there is some wizard tech machine used to collect the Lake Balls, it’s much more lightly that it will be a ‘frogman‘ or in today’s parlance ‘A certified Scuba Diver‘.
In some quarters, and especially those working in the industry, these Lake Balls are often referred to as ‘white gold’.
Although we wouldn’t use a sieve to find them… it’s basically a simple process of diving to the depths.
And given the hazards stated above, it no surprise that we lose between 3-5 divers a year (on average), paying with their life!
Lake Balls – The Numbers
As with many things in life, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, and there are many divers livelihoods that hinge on the misfortunes of the golfer.
Of the estimated 100 million missing golf balls recovered each year, in various countries, roughly three times as many never get found.
However, around 2.5 million make their way into Premier Lake Balls warehouse.
As they arrive in their pallets, awaiting their next chance to play, these Lake Balls are processed in massive ball washers, that are able to accommodate 20,000 balls a time.
Lake Balls – The Cleaning/Grading
Processing at this point is pretty quick. Once washed and dried, the grading starts.
This is the labour intensive part, as ensuring we grade the Lake Balls to the highest standard ready for resale on the website is paramount.
With this done, we can then start pricing and tagging by size, brand, and/or range.
And with new ball prices having continued to climb in recent years, more and more golfers now prefer to purchase 2nd hand Lake Balls.
Which is not only good for your pocket but also on the environment.
“Often many of our balls look like new, once cleaned” Said Scott.
Lake Balls – The Cost
Given the labour cost in this retrieval process, there very small margins to be made but each ball represents a small profit to both the retriever and the supplier.
However, there is a profit to be made in ‘quantity’ and with the lake balls retrieval market continuing to grow, there is a happy future ahead for the industry.
Ask any traditional golf ball retailer about Lake Balls and they’ll tell you that any ball pulled from a pond is an inferior product.
Sorry, but that is a thing of past with the introduction of surlyn covers (replacing balata balls) as this do not deteriorate in water and they perform exactly the same as a newly boxed ball, that is three times the price.
In short, buying used Lake Balls via a respected retailer such as Premier Lake Balls, will not only save you money at a time of economic uncertainty but it could also save the planet.
Thanks Scott, who knew!
By Ian Mullins
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