New golf balls are expensive. Brand new balls usually cost more than $1 per ball, and some state-of-the-art balls cost $4 per ball or more. There is a vibrant market in selling used golf balls directly to other golfers, golf courses, and driving ranges, as well as through used golf ball stores, and online stores like Amazon and eBay. Used golf ball traders discover lost golf balls themselves, but often buy hundreds of other balls from other golfers or ball hunters.
Live on a Golf Course
One investor caught onto buy and selling golf balls because he lived on a golf course in Fresno, California, but he did not actually play golf. He just liked the open space created by the golf course and the overall look-and-feel of the community. He started to collect golf balls in his backyard, then offered to buy balls at very cheap prices from his neighbors and neighborhood kids. Even some of his neighbors who played golf did not have any interest in used golf balls because they only hit the latest and greatest golf balls when they played themselves. He acquired thousands of golf balls each month, cleaned them, then turned around and sold them for around $0.30 a ball on eBay, and created an income stream of around $5000 per year.
Critical Mass is Key
Most lots of used golf balls are in large numbers like 75 or 100. If you can get a batch of 100 balls that are a recent model premium brand, you can sell them for more money. Someone who only has 20 balls may not be able to sell them at all, other than to a used golf ball shop for pennies. Someone with thousands of balls can sort them into different lots and sell them directly to end users for better prices. So there is an economy of scale that an active trader would have over someone who just wanted to unload a few balls.
If there is hyperinflation, people like to have their money in hard assets because they should appreciate to offset the loss in buying power as the dollar declines in value. However, golf balls are a luxury item. It is probably safe to say that golf’s popularity is not very high in times of hyperinflation (like what Zimbabwe and Venezuela have gone or are going through) due to the fact that golf is not a necessity and looked at as a luxury. You can rest assured that politicians would target golf as a game of “borgeois excess” like they do in China from time-to-time, in the event of hyperinflation. Even though used golf balls are an asset, they should be bought if they can be immediately sold for more money, not for inflation protection.
Good Way to Teach Kids About Money
The used golf ball trade does not produce tons of money unless you do it on an extremely large scale (one store in Phoenix promotes the fact that they buy 4 million balls per year.) However, it can be a great hobby if you have some means to acquire them cheaply. Its also a way to teach kids the value of money either by buying or selling them themselves or offering to buy them from kids who put the effort in to fish them out of a creek or expend other effort to acquire used golf balls.