Astronaut Alan Shepard hit two golf balls on the moon in 1971, but 300 million golf balls are lost in the US each year. Divers retrieve them from golf course lakes and ponds, paying 7-10 cents per ball and selling them for up to $2 each. It can be hazardous work due to toxic water and dangerous animals. One UK salvager makes up to $150,000 a year.
On February 6, 1971, astronaut Alan Shepard used a six iron to throw two golf balls into the great unknown on the lunar surface. Experts believe the extreme temperatures probably melted the balls years ago. But what about the approximately 300 million golf balls lost in the United States each year? In America and around the world, enterprising individuals wear wetsuits to scoop balls from golf course lakes and ponds. For some, this translates into lucrative earnings in the repackaged golf ball market.
Lost, found and recycled:
Divers typically pay golf courses 7 to 10 cents for every ball they find. Depending on the condition and brand, golfers will pay an average of 75 cents for a recycled ball, up to $2 for a mint condition Titleist Pro V1.
In 2015, a golf ball salvager in the UK who runs a company called Lake Ball Diving estimated he was making up to $150,000 USD a year (£100,000) reselling golf balls.
Working conditions for golf ball divers can be hazardous. The ponds can be toxic stews, so divers wear head-to-toe protection. And then there are the dangers lurking: from alligators and crocodiles to water snakes and snapping turtles.