Before I start each round of golf I tell myself that I’m not going to lose a single golf ball. Then I end up losing 5 or 6, maybe I’m jinxing myself and giving myself some bad juju.
I’m assuming this question is more directed at “ball hawks” that try to score some balls at night time. Maybe even sneak on the course and perhaps act like a golfer. In this case, yes, I would say this is illegal and you could potentially go to jail…if you get caught.
I say this because you are technically taking something that belongs to the course. Jail is probably an overreaction but being banned is probably more realistic.
But What If
But, if I contribute to the vast and seemingly endless amount of golf balls that are already lost, is golf ball hawking illegal? If I pay to play golf and I’m actively looking for golf balls, I can’t get in trouble, can I?
And who’s actually looking for people on golf courses trying to fish for golf balls though? Here’s one of the best golf ball retrieval tools on the market, check it out on Amazon.
But, please use the tool responsibly, don’t hold up the group behind you and please don’t go fishing with it at night time!
Hawk At Your Own Risk
If you’re hawking at night, I would think that you’re putting the course owners and yourself at risk. You risk many types of hazards on the course, like if you were to slip and fall in the water as you are fetching for a ball.
I’m sure it’s happened somewhere, and the course owner probably got sued. But if something did happen and you got caught, I would say you would probably be banned from the course.
Hawking During The Day
If you paid to play and you decide to use that time fishing for golf balls, this seems like a waste of time to me. Why would you spend that time looking for potentially “garbage” golf balls when you could just be enjoying the round of golf?
Not to mention all the people that you could potentially be holding up behind you.
Hawking But You Didn’t Pay To Play
This is one of those situations where you could at the very least be banned from the golf course if you were to get caught. Nobody likes to see a guy in the distance fishing for golf balls that they could actually hit with their own golf ball.
Ways People Have Lost Their Golf Balls, You Might Find A Hawking Idea!
Everyone has lost a golf ball but not everyone has had a golf ball eaten by an alligator. Some of the crazy ways to lose a golf ball seem to be endless but I’ve got 16 for you. Okay, so these aren’t all crazy ways but who have had their ball stolen by a bird before?
A crazy statistic, over 300 million golf balls are lost or tossed in the garbage each year in the US alone. That’s insane, not crazy!
Also, these 16 ways to lose your golf ball are not all the ways I have lost my golf balls. In fact, I’m not sure if I lost my ball half of the ways I listed below. Nonetheless, a lost golf ball is a lost golf ball… that someone will find one day and probably put in their golf bag…maybe.
The Water Hazard – This is probably the most obvious and the most common amongst golfers. For some reason whenever there’s a water hazard on a hole my golf ball likes to flirt with the edge. I don’t always hit it in the water but I have noticed when I’m thinking about the water hazard then it usually goes in the water.
Do yourself a favor and try not to think about the hazard at all, easier said than done. If you can master this then you will most likely have a better chance of missing the hazard.
Tallgrass – This is never fun, whenever I hit it in the tall grass I’m almost certain my ball is gone. It’s just too difficult to try and figure out exactly where you hit the ball. Even if you did have an idea of where it landed, you’re probably off by a couple of square yards.
I will generally give myself no more than five minutes to look for the ball if I don’t find it, that’s a stroke and a drop. I don’t like slowing down the pace of play just to look for a ball that I may or may not find. A good thing about hitting in the tall grass is that you usually find someone else’s ball.
Plugged ball – When you play on a sunny day after a couple of weeks of straight rain, the course may not be in good playing condition. Living in the pacific northwest, this is a common problem but it’s something we deal with and try not to let it bother us too much.
Losing a ball due to it being buried in the ground an inch or two is an awful feeling especially when you nailed the fairway. Plugged balls in the fairway are much easier to find than those in the rough. I almost never find my golf ball if it’s plugged in the rough, rule of thumb, stay in the fairway.
Stuck in a tree – This has never happened to me but I know for a fact that it has happened to someone. There have been pro’s that have hit from the tree in order to save a stoke. What average golfer playing on the weekend is ever going to look in a tree? Now, you may look up and accidentally find your ball in the tree but it’s certainly not the first place you look.
The pros have the advantage of people keeping an eye on his ball and can tell him exactly where it went. I wonder how many golf balls are actually in the trees of golf courses and maybe birds nest?
Alligator ate my golf ball – Not my golf ball personally but I know people report that all the time. This can be a big problem, now you have to drop somewhere near the ball killing zone. I’ve personally never seen an alligator but I know if I had the choice of playing on a course that let them roam free I probably wouldn’t play there.
They must get sick and tired of us humans hitting white balls in their vicinity. I’m sure they get hit all the time by golf balls. It’s no wonder they eat peoples balls, or maybe they think the balls are some kind of egg? Not sure but I wouldn’t go anywhere near one if it ate my golf ball.
A bird flew away with my ball – This hasn’t happened to me but you can search it on google, it happens. There is no penalty if this happens but it’s something that is funny to think about and I would love to see it.
What is that damn bird thinking as it flies away with the ball? Did it get hit one too many times with a ball that it’s trying to play a small role in getting rid of this game? Why do some birds not care about the golf ball? Living in the northwest we get tons of Geese on the course, I’ve accidentally hit one before.
The only bird in the fairway and I nailed it because I had a major miss hit. The Goose was fine and flew away but it probably thinks twice about sitting in an open field, or not and it’s been hit multiple times since that incident.
Someone took my ball – This has definitely happened to me and probably a lot of people reading this. It’s bound to happen and it’s almost never intentional, people just get confused sometimes. New golfers are picking up the game every day and they don’t always take note of what ball they were playing.
Not only new people take golf balls. I’ve played with people who get sick and tired of the people behind us. Always hitting into us because they couldn’t wait a few more minutes, not because we are slow but the pace of play is slow on the entire course.
That ball, unfortunately, gets stuffed in the bag or tossed in the woods. This usually solves the problem of them hitting into you but sometimes people have hard heads and don’t get the point.
The best way of handling it is either shout down the fairway telling them to stop hitting into you. You can also call the clubhouse and they usually will send out a marshal to handle the situation. Nobody wants to see a brawl on the golf course.
Fun fact – It takes anywhere from 100 years to 1000 years for a ball to decompose naturally according to the Danish Golf Union. So be responsible when you lose your golf ball, don’t hit them into the ocean on purpose or anything like that. Lose them on the golf course like a good decent human bean.
It landed in someone backyard – This has happened to me a couple of times. The first time it happened the ball was easy to grab so I just took a penalty and took my ball back.
The second time I was a little wary due to the fact that the ball landed near the house and there were a couple of balls in the yard. So I may not have been my ball in the first place. I just took a penalty stroke and left the ball.
If your ball ever lands in someone yard, try to figure out the risk vs. reward. It’s not worth it to me if I think I might hurt myself jumping over the fence. Or if there is a dog in the yard.
A kid picked it up – This may or may not have happened to me but I know it has happened before. My buddy decided to bring his eight years old who doesn’t play golf but enjoys the time with his father.
The kid liked to walk around looking at things while his dad was preparing to hit the ball. Well, the kid found a few balls on his journey and his dad didn’t even know he was picking up golf balls.
The kid picked up at least five balls and had them in his pocket. The only reason his dad found out was that he lost a ball and his son handed him one from his pocket. He asked where he got the ball and his son said he found it, “don’t pick up other peoples balls” he said.
Lost my ball in the woods – Why, why…whyyyyy? If I’m going to lose a ball, it’s going to be because of the damn woods. Playing tight fairways with heavily populated trees always calls for a safe play…for me at least. My friends usually expect me to hit an iron or my hybrid, this is if my driver isn’t performing as I would like.
I personally don’t think you should risk hitting club if you aren’t sure if you can put it in a general area in the fairway. There was a time when I never took my driver out of the bag, true story, I only used my hybrid and irons.
I didn’t see a point in hitting way off target with a driver if I could keep the ball in play while sacrificing yardage. It was a no-brainer for me and I think if you don’t have time to improve your driving skills you should choose a different club.
Lost my ball in the sand trap – This personally has never happened to me but I have read stories on forums of people losing their ball in the sand trap. That has to be the most confusing and frustrating things, you landed in the trap and can’t find your ball. What do you do if you landed in the sand trap and can’t find your ball?
The rule says in summation, you are allowed to rake or use other objects to look for the ball without penalty. If you move the ball you need to replace it in the same spot and basically recreate the lie with a small part of the ball showing.
Lost my ball in the leaves – This has happened to almost everyone that has played golf in the fall. It’s pretty frustrating but there’s nothing you can do about it.
If this happens at the tee box and you think you may have lost the ball, hit a provisional ball in case you can’t find your first ball. This allows you to be ready to hit your second ball if you can’t find your first ball right away without holding up people behind you.
If you take a provisional, just remember to add 2 stroke penalty from the tee box so your provisional would be your third shot.
Lost my ball near the driving range – It’s usually the first hole or the 18th hole where this happens. It’ never happened to me but my brother lost his ball in a sea of range balls that flew through the gaps of the range nets.
Who wants to look at 50+ golf balls just to find your one ball? He never found his ball but he did find a couple of balls that weren’t range balls which is always a plus.
Lost my ball due to sunlight – When teeing off, the sun is shining right in your eye’s. There’s nothing you can do about it but tell your buddies to try and keep an eye on the ball. This doesn’t always work out due to the sun being so damn bright sometimes.
Another way to lose your ball with sunlight is when your ball is sitting in the sunlight but blends in somehow. Not sure why but my vision gets distorted when the sun shines on the grass. The white ball almost blends in with the green grass, I’ve walked past my ball a few times because the fairway was too bright.
I will generally remove my sunglasses during a round of golf because I for some reason don’t like the feeling of them. I also don’t like the way they slightly distort my vision, but if you needed to find your golf ball I would recommend putting them on.
Your ball just vanished – This has happened to everyone, you hit a beautiful drive but you have no idea where it ended up. It could have been abducted by aliens for you know, which seems like the only logical explanation sometimes. I would say that I lose a good amount of balls because I have no idea what happened to it.
This has to be a common problem amongst golfers, you can’t do anything about it but move on. Take a stroke and make sure you keep an eye on your ball next time!
Too Foggy – Whether the fog is low to the ground or scattered throughout, losing your golf ball due to fog is sucks! Early mornings are when you will find the most fog so you have to keep a close eye on your ball with those early tee times.
Evening time isn’t so bad but you can still get the fog. So who knows where the golf ball went after you hit it, I say you shouldn’t have been playing in the fog in the first place. Says the guy that plays in the rain all the time.
There you have it!
You learned a bit about golf ball hawking and whether it was illegal or not.
I hope you got something out of this post, please share it if you feel the need to spread this post.