How Many Balls Can A Pro Golfer Carry?

Golf, particularly at the pro level, is a sport with plenty of rules. Some of those rules happen to be rather particular. Many spectators have wondered:

How many balls can a pro golfer carry?

One might be surprised to learn that a professional golfer can actually carry as many golf balls as he or she wants. This is very different than the golf club rule, which stipulates only 14 clubs are allowed to be in a golf bag.

That doesn’t mean that Bryson Dechambeau has 40 golf balls in his bag, but in theory, a golfer can fill their golf bag with a nearly unlimited supply of Titleist Pro V1.

The only catch? In tournament play, golfers are typically bound by the One Ball Rule. This means that they must play with balls from a single golf ball manufacturer and those balls must all be the same model.

Again, let’s use Titleist as an example. If a golfer is using a Pro V1, all the balls in his or her bag must be Pro V1s.

Even high-level golfers like Phil Mickelson have messed this up and paid the price. Google Russell Henley.

How many balls can a pro golfer carry?

So how many golf balls does a professional golfer usually carry in a tournament?

This varies from golfer to golfer. Some pros don’t even worry about and just leave that decision up to the caddie (Jason Gore being a prime example).

My research seems to suggest that most pros carry close to 9 golf balls in their bag. Since golf balls typically come in sleeves of 3, nine golf balls seems to be a good landing spot.

This smaller arsenal gives a golfer some flexibility if things go wrong from the tee box or their land a shot in one of those beautiful water hazards. It also keeps a caddie from lugging around too much extra weight (those bags are heavy).

On a tour-level course, an amateur golfer may load up their bag with a few dozen balls, but PGA tour players aren’t taking mulligans. They’ve mastered the art of playing a golf course.

When it comes to swing speed, ball speed, ball flight, carry distance, spin and other key metrics, the pro golfer is in another league. They’re not going to lose four golf balls on each hole.

What happens if a pro golfer runs out of balls?

It would be an embarrassment to run out of golf balls in the PGA Championship, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Golfers can borrow balls from another player or send someone to get more, but there are two key factors to keep in mind:

  1. They can’t cause an undue delay in the round. There would be a penalty for that.
  2. Assuming the One Ball Rule is in effect, the extra balls must be from the same golf ball manufacturer and the same model that they’ve been playing with all along.

Whether its match play or stroke play, you’d be hard pressed to find a time where a professional golf personality like Rory McIlroy ran out of golf balls. However, some pro golfers have come a bit close for comfort.

In fact, Tiger Woods almost ran out of golf balls in 2000 during a tournament round at Pebble Beach.

As a result of foggy conditions, the second round of the event was suspended, pushing Tiger’s 18th hole to the next morning. Tiger spent part of that evening practicing his putts in his hotel room. Great idea, right?

Not so much. After his practice, Tiger forget to put his golf balls back into his bag. When he stepped onto the 18th tee the next day, there were only two balls in his bag (he was unaware of this fact). He launched the first ball into the Pacific Ocean.

His caddie, Steve Williams, didn’t tell him how close he was to running out of golf balls…this falls under the old mantra “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.”

Everything worked out in the end. Tiger went on to win the Open with a record-breaking margin.

Do pro golfers use a new ball on each hole?

Most professionals tend to use a few balls per round, but not necessarily a new golf ball on each hole. Some players use a new ball every other hole, every three holes or after a bogey. However, certain players such as Rich Beem used to play with a new ball on each hole.

Do pro golfers use special balls?

Many professional golfers play with the same golf balls that are available to the average golfer. However, there are some players who use special versions of the same ball. These limited edition runs may have been altered slightly and are only sold to professionals.

If this is the case, the player must ensure that the ball has been listed and approved by the USGA (United States Golf Association), appearing on their golf ball list as well as being marked by an identifying symbol such as a star to indicate as such. Golf equipment is reviewed by the USGA to ensure that it conforms to official standards.

Recommended Reading: What Ball Does Tiger Woods Use? (Hint: it’s not a Pro V.)

Why don’t pro golfers use colored balls?

Professional golfers tend to use white golf balls and then add their own design or stamp on them to make them stand out. However, there are colored golf balls that meet the United States Golf Association standards, which means that golfers are welcome to play with these golf balls if they’d prefer.

Bubba Watson has played with a pink ball in tournament play, and Hale Irwin used an orange ball in the 70s and 80s.

Professional golfers can use colored balls so long as they use the same color/brand/model throughout the round.

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