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Same with any common golfer, my bag is filled with second hand and brand new golf balls. Last year, I decided to strictly play one brand/ kind of ball only (ProV1x). This is to help me play better by being able to predict and expect the performance of the ball. However, I still drift from new and second hand ProV1x's from time to time. Of course because of monetary issues. Coincidentally, I always find myself playing bad when I use second hand golf balls while playing good when using brand new ones! Maybe it is due time that I start playing with brand new golf balls always??? For the meantime, I only reserve the brand new golf balls for tournaments/ leagues and important games while using the second hand for practice rounds...
I wonder if anybody else is on the same boat as I am...
Golf is certainly a mental game! I found myself with an aversion to #4 balls, preferring to use #1-3 and thinking the 4's could cause higher scores. I know that is ridiculous, but we all have mental hurdles to conquer. I have and this is no longer an issue.
While "second-hand" can mean different things, from dirty, to water balls, to damaged. Some of those can affect performance, but overall an "old" ball doesn't necessarily mean higher scores. And when playing less important rounds, you may be concentrating on improving a specific part of your game, causing higher scores. When you play important rounds with new balls, you're likely concentrating on putting it all together, scoring better.
But at the end of the day you're going to shoot your best scores when you're most confident. And if new balls increase your confidence, they can actually help.
Now I'm off to work on more of my own mental hurdles!