Golf balls end up in some strange places. The woods, the water, people’s yards (or windows), and in swimming pools. All those lost golf balls can mean money for you, if you have the energy and desire to collect them, clean them up, and resell them.
There are varying levels of dedication to the craft of golf ball hunting. Some people are content to simply walk the courses and nearby wooded areas and neighborhoods, picking up whatever they can find. Others use nets to trawl the edges of the water hazards. Still others do full dive or wading gear and dive the murky ponds in search of the balls at the bottom. I’ve also heard of people who approach homeowners who live on the edges of the courses and ask them to save any balls that wind up in their yards or pools. The ball hunter comes by once a week or month and collects the findings. Obviously the more effort you’re willing to put forth, the more money you can make.
The price you can get for the balls you find is determined by the brand of the ball and its condition. Barely used premium balls are worth more than cheap balls with cuts on them. Typically you can get between twenty-five cents and $1.00 per ball. A good day of ball hunting can make you a couple of hundred dollars.
Once you’ve collected your golf balls, you have to sell them. There are several ways to do this. You can set up your own web business on eBay or Amazon and sell directly to players and clubs. You can also sell balls directly to local clubs or driving ranges. Some sporting goods stores will buy used balls. Even putt-putt courses might buy your balls. You’ll have to do some research and experimentation to discover the market in your area, as well as the going prices.
If you decide to pursue this, be certain to get permission from any courses and neighborhoods in which you intend to hunt. If you work without permission, you could be arrested for trespassing or stealing. Additionally, some places will already have someone under contract and you don’t want to get caught poaching on someone else’s turf. Even if your local course already has someone, you may be able to worm your way in. For example, if the person they have is only willing to walk the course but you are willing to dive in the water, you may be able to share the job or push the other person out. It can’t hurt to ask if they need someone with more versatility or who can come more often.
There are hazards with ball hunting. Snakes are often found around golf courses and water hazards. Alligators are also a problem in some locations. If you’re entering the water, there are waterborne diseases and parasites that you can contract. Then there are insects and weather related hazards. You’ll probably be expected to carry your own insurance or to sign a waiver stating that you will not sue the course should anything happen to you.
If you’re dedicated and good at finding balls, you can make some good money. If you live in an area with lots of golf courses, you can turn ball hunting into a full-time business. Despite the hazards it’s not a bad job if you like being outside and being around the golf community.