Making Money, Personal Finance

Golf Ball Hunting: Strange Ways to Make Money

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.

9 thoughts on “Golf Ball Hunting: Strange Ways to Make Money

  1. It’s bull. Really. I’ve lived by a golf course for 40 years. Golfers aren’t willing to pay more than 25 cents for a used ball, and the most I’ve made in bulk was at 5 cents each.

    On top of this, the local “Pro” (a-hole) thinks he Owns the course and all balls on it. He’ll make trouble for you. There are even some ball brands which enforce a rule that only licensed dealers can sell them.

    I’m not saying that you can’t find lots of golf balls hanging around a golf course, only that finding a means of Selling Them profitably is near-impossible.

  2. I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about James, I’ve made 500$ in 2 days and I didn’t even try that hard. You must be lazy.

  3. Great way to make money. I have collected about 600-700 balls over time. But after being kicked off the course multiple times, I am gaining a bad reputation. But if the ranger finds you, they will tell you that there has been a gator sighting in the lake you were in… Most likely, their lying

  4. Unfortunately James Dixon ^^^ is 100% wrong. Golf ball retrieval has grown tremendously since the late 90’s. It’s over a 200 million dollar business annually. There are no brands of balls that cannot be sold used. As the owners of titleist found this out by losing a lawsuit trying to prevent the resale of their used golf balls. I myself have 40 divers in 9 states and bring in an average of 240,000 balls monthly. I pay the divers 8 cents per ball no matter condition. They average around 3,000 balls per day. Granted some months are less busy, but it is a constant, people will always play golf and they will hit balls in the hazards. So it’s obvious mr. Dixon hasn’t done his research.

  5. No offense but not true James, when I was in grade school too many decades ago my brother and I would hunt golf balls at our local golf course and sit on the T of the 4th hole, spread them out, and make $.50 to $1 each. Taught my kids to do the same thing and they make about $50 in 3-4 hrs most saturday mornings. Not bad for a grade school job.

    Disclaimer: I in no way condone tresspassing (sp?)if done respecfully 😉

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