Pros advice

How many golf balls do Tour players carry?

If you’re a double-digit golfer playing a course notorious for having an unfair amount of water hazards, then loading up on golf balls seems like a good idea.

However, you may be interested to know that the best players in the world don’t vary their stockpile much at all. In fact, for a competitive game of golf, the top pros will stick with the same number of balls despite the course difficulty.

It could almost be considered a badge of honour not to add more balls on a course where water is in play on 11 holes. To their way of thinking, if you have to throw in an extra sleeve or two, you probably weren't good enough to get into The Players in the first place.

"The reality is that hardly any of us need more than five or six balls," said Brendon Todd while preparing to warm up on the TPC Sawgrass practice facility. "Guys didn't get out here by losing that many in a round."

Russell Knox, of Jacksonville Beach, said he takes three sleeves (nine balls) with him for a tournament round – changing balls every other hole. He does that for a desert course with no hazards or the Stadium. "Maybe it's the way pros think, but we have a routine and it doesn't change for a course or a tournament," he said.

Gary Woods takes 11 golf balls onto the greens with him. "Sometimes you give a few to kids after a bogey," he said. "If you're carrying 11 balls and worrying about whether you have enough, you're going home early, or you never would have gotten to this level in the first place.”

But what happens if you do run out of golf balls?

Anyone running out of golf balls during a tournament round has the option of dispatching someone to the pro shop or his locker, but might incur a two-stroke penalty for delaying play. The player also can borrow a golf ball from one of his partners, or even someone in an adjoining fairway. The rules say only that an "outside agency" can be the source of replacement golf balls.

However, there is a rather interesting catch: the golf balls must be the same brand and the same model. For example, a player running out of Titleist ProV1x balls would not be able to put into a play at Titleist ProV1.

It’s an interesting situation which few golfers ever need to concern themselves with, but it does happen on occasion.

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