How Often Do PGA Tour Players Change Golf Balls?

There is no hard and fast rule on how many times a pro golfer changes their ball during their round. PGA Tour players can change their golf balls at their discretion. The only rule for changing their golf ball is that a ball swap must occur between holes, not during a hole. USGA rules state that a golfer must finish the hole with the same ball they teed off with unless the ball is unplayable due to damage or is lost. That means that a PGA Tour player can switch balls up to 18 times if no balls are lost or damaged.

Know that we know how many times a pro can switch a golf ball, we can figure out how many times they do swap balls during a round. Professional golfers playing on tour virtually receive unlimited golf balls from golf manufacturers. There is no a cost component prohibiting players from switching every hole.

You would think that if pros received unlimited balls they would change balls frequently, but surprisingly, that is not always the case. We’ve found that tour golfers swap out their golf balls every 3 to 6 holes.  

There is no rhyme or reason for when a player changes balls, each player is unique in their approach. Some tour pros like to hand out their used balls to fans while others will continue to play a ball until they bogey a hole. Ultimately, players will switch their ball as much or as little as needed. What matters is how they are playing and that rarely is a function of the golf balls performance.

a white golf ball on the green grass

What Happens If A PGA Tour Player Runs Out Of Golf Balls?

Almost every amateur golfer has had a rough day on the course where nothing is working in their golf swing. You slice a ball into the woods and the next one into the lake. Or you reach down into your golf bag to grab another ball, but there are none there. You check the side pockets and still nothing. For the amateur golfer, it’s not a big deal, you ask your friend if he can spare a couple of balls for the rest of the round, but what happens if a pro player runs out of golf balls?

There are a couple different scenarios that can play out. If a player runs out of golf balls during a hole, they need to find the same ball brand and model for replacement or they will incur a 1 stroke penalty. If they finished the hole and need to get a new ball, they can swap out for any brand of ball.

If pro players can get a replacement ball during a round, where do they replacement ball? Players can ask another player or fan for a ball at any point during the round. They also have the ability to buy a ball if they are unable to get on for free. In fact, players can borrow all sorts of equipment from players or spectators such as tees, towels, or anything else they may need.  

How Many Golf Balls Does A Pro Golfer Carry?

There are no rules on how many golf balls a professional golfer can carry for a tournament. Most pro golfers will carry a minimum of a dozen balls during a round. In theory, a player could carry as many as they could fit in their bag, but this would not be practical. Pro golfers rarely lose balls so it would be a waste of space to do so.

Do Pro Golfers Use The Same Balls As Sold In The Stores?

It depends on the player, but yes, some pros do use the same balls sold in stores to the general public. Other pros have specially constructed tour only golf balls that are made specific to the parameters of the pros swing. These golf balls are manufactured exclusively for professional players and are not available for retail purchase.

Why do pros have different balls? This is common in all professional vs amateur golf equipment. Pro players have drastically different swings than amateurs. Club speed, strike precision, and numerous other differences require different specs for pro equipment vs retail.

Can A PGA Tour Player Use Different Brands of Golf Balls In A Round?

PGA Tour Players can use different balls during a round. The only stipulation is that they cannot change balls during a hole. While this is allowed by USGA rules, it would be an uncommon practice for pros to swap ball brands mid round. Most if not all pros have sponsored equipment that they market while they play. For this reason, its very rare to see a player switch the brand of ball they play during a round.

close up photo of golf ball on grass

Final Thoughts

Professional golfers have a lot of flexibility when choosing their golf ball, changing balls during a round, and how many balls they bring to an event. The main prohibited act is changing balls during a hole if the ball is not lost or damaged. Besides that, there are very few restrictions. Players’ equipment rules are listed under Rule 4 of the USGA guidelines. You can find a compressive list of all rules and regulations on the USGA Website.

Hopefully, you found this blog post helpful. If you liked this article, check out our other blog posts!

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