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Grouchy Golf Blog

Wednesday, July 06, 2005 at 8:46 AM

Licking Your Balls - An Unhealthy Habit

When I first started playing golf with my good friend and scratch golfer Anth, I noticed that he occasionally licked his golf ball before he set it down to putt. After shooting him several puzzled looks without a response, I asked him, "What the hell are you doing?"

"I'm cleaning my ball so it will roll true," he answered.
"I know that, but do you have to use your tongue? Why don't you use a towel?"
"I don't have one with me. What's the big deal?"
"It's just disgusting. There could be all kinds of crap on that ball. Why don't you just lick the ground?"

He just rolled his eyes and shook his head as if I was the one being ridiculous. On the next green, he licked his ball again like he was working his way to the Tootsie Roll center. I didn't say anything about it to him again. I mean, who am I to question a scratch golfer?

I have since played with several golfers who lick their balls clean. Recently, I tracked down a course maintenance person and told him about this phenomenon. He informed me that there are indeed many toxic substances on a golf course that could cling to a golf ball. Fertilizer, weed killers, pesticides, and animal guano are just some of the awful things one may ingest from a soiled golf ball. He confirmed that it was not a good idea to lick your balls clean. In fact, he thought it was downright dangerous. Apparently, it's quite a common practice in Ireland.

So please, let this be a warning to you or someone you know who may suffer from this nasty habit.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in Fredericksburg Tx they pump water from the sewage treatment plant to water the course. So licking your balls or putting the tee in your mouth could be hazardous to your health  

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Blogger Eric said...

It may sound gross, but I just spit on the ball and then rub off the debris with my thumb. Works pretty well and I don't touch the ball with my tounge.  

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Blogger Musey said...

Oh I sooooo can't answer this question in case minors read your blog.

But I want too!! Answer the question, not lick dirty balls. :D  

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Blogger CB said...

I lick my thumb or spit on the ball then rub it with my thumb. I understand that there will eventually be some kind of transfer but I refuse to wear a golf towel on my waist. Maybe they need to develop a thumb condom?  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If that doesn't kill you, something else will... and as a wise man once told me, "If you gotta go, it might as well be while licking your balls." :)  

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Blogger Jam Boy said...

Or there is the other alternative...hire a caddie to take care of things for ya. (cough)SHAMELESS PLUG(cough).  

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Anonymous Jennifer Mario said...

Stop! You're actually making me cry with laughter!

Weird side note: I just read in "A Good Walk Spoiled" that when Curtis Strange's father died (of lung cancer), the family was told that he died from licking golf balls with fertilizer on them. I guess that's the go-to diagnosis for golfers that die young?

Meanwhile, I'd better warn my dog.  

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Blogger jane said...

just goes to show, men do lick their balls......if they can.  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Jennifer,

I read that book about a year ago. I wish the author waited to pen the book during the Tiger-era. Not that it wasn't good, but it would have been much more interesting!  

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Blogger FRED said...

The same type that would not wash his hands after a trip to the outhouse then reach across the table for a hand full of your popcorn.  

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Blogger DanatMVN said...

Hello, my name is Dan Benton and I am a recruiter for a company called "The Most Valuable Network". It's a blog style web-site and we are currently are looking for a golf "blogger" If you'd at all be interested, please e-mail me at dan_benton@mostvaluablenetwork.com.

I look forward to hearing back from you.  

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Blogger Miranda said...

Since I don't play golf, I only watch it, I had no idea that people lick golf balls. Thanks for posting this!  

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Blogger dave said...

I have never seen this practice and don't care to.  

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Blogger Tachizuno said...

Haha...

I can't lie and say I haven't used spit. I haven't directly licked it yet though.. maybe that's the secret to breaking 80??  

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Blogger woundedduck said...

What could anyone's opposition be to a towel? I mean, I know lip and tongue tumors can be sexy, but the Elephant Man pretty much did all you can do with tumors.  

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Blogger CB said...

I was beginning to miss you woundedduck.

Truthfully, the towel just bugs me when I swing. You don't need to worry about it. Should I ever develop a lip or tongue tumor I'll be sure to stop blowing you kisses.  

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Blogger Cary said...

Ugh - I don't even like to touch the golf balls without the glove on my hand, because of all the cra- er - stuff that's on the grass. Licking? Just a bad idea.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bring a towel and a water bottle.
Wet one corner of the towel.
Wipe the ball clean as necessary.

The pesticides used on golf corses are extremely toxic substances.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I understand the detractors' point here. Who said the only other option was WEARING a towel? I bring one with me onto the green, or just spit on the ground under me to wipe the ball on when I'm crouching down to read my putt. Licking my thumb is also kind of out since it gets that same dirt/fertilizer/who-knows-what off of the ball and into my mouth.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just use my shirt and spit on it if necessary. I'd rather my ball be clean than my polo.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife has been telling me for years to stop licking my balls. Would it be unsafe for me, in your opinion, to ask her to come out on Saturdays to lick my balls between holes?  

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Anonymous Bob said...

Come on guy's how hard can it be to carry a small towel, hanky or cleaning cloth. Do you kiss your wives with that mouth?  

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Anonymous Bruce said...

It is nasty to lick the golf ball, or use your hands to clean it, it will get transferred unto waterbottles, etc, and then to your mouth. I bought an item at TEE BOX and have seen it at several other places. It is a small round towel (6 inches) with a waterproof back. You wet the towel part and the moisture stays there, then you can use it to clean club heads and golf balls. It cleans up easily and it is not a hastle like towels. i also have bought some and given them as gifts.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a friend whose father was just diagnosed with mouth cancer. He golfs for a living and is known to lick like many do. The doctors have concluded this is where he became infected. It's very dangerous!  

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