The job of a golf ball diver is to retrieve golf balls that have been shanked into the pond, lake or river on a golf course. After the balls are collected, they are brought to the factory to be cleaned, repackaged and sold for $0.06 to $1.00 per ball in wholesale or retail stores.
Up to 100,000 golf balls can go missing in the water on a single golf course each year. This spells good news for divers as the more golf balls found equal more money in their pockets.
The amount of money a golf ball diver makes depends on the amount of golf balls collected. On a single day, a seasoned golf ball diver typically makes between $100 to $200, while there are times when they can make up to $2,000 when there are more balls than you can pick up in a day.
But before you start scooping out scuba gear on Amazon, be warned, this job is not for everyone. It’s difficult and it can be very dangerous.
Divers have to spend their life 10 to 20 feet under water in complete darkness with 100 pounds of golf balls strapped around their neck. This can be physically demanding, and tiresome.
They also have to deal with alligators where every other year somebody gets tagged. This makes the job very risky. Not to menton, they could get trapped by a fishing line and end up drowning. All in all, golf ball diving is not for the faint hearted.
Can You Get Rich From Golf Ball Diving?
While the vast majority of golf ball divers are not rich, a few seasoned golf ball divers have managed to make over a million dollars from the job. One such golf ball diver who we discovered was Glenn Berger in Florida. He said he collects 1.3 to 1.7 million balls per year by himself and made over 15 million dollars during his 14 year career of golf ball diving.
During his early days of diving, Glenn was partially unemployed and was stealing golf balls out of a golf course lake near his home. He gave it some time and later the business blew up allowing him to quit his job and go full time golf diving which he is now making a good living from.
After each haul, Glenn says he cleans up the balls with chemicals before bagging them up to be sold back to golf courses. You can watch his interview here.
Apart from the few divers like Glenn, most golf ball divers who are hardworking and consistent at the job will realistically make between $50,000 and $100,000 annually while enduring harsh weather conditions throughout the year. To make the most from their efforts, they will travel everywhere to different states to find golf balls rather than depending on one location.
How To Become A Golf Ball Diver The Legit Way?
Becoming a golf ball diver may require some paper work. We don’t recommend that folks start golf ball diving without obtaining a mutual agreement from the course manager as you could get charged for trespassing.
If you are going to make this a full time duty, you would normally have to sign an exclusive contract that will permit you to retrieve and gather golf balls from the pond, lake or river. The course may require you to pay a small fee, or to give back a portion of the golf balls you retrieved that will cover the cost.
A serious golf diver may end up contracting with 20 different golf courses which further increases the amount of money he makes as there are more balls collected.
Divers may also be contracted to work for recycling companies to help them collect golf balls.
After the balls are recovered, the diver will clean the balls with detergent, soap and water before selling them. The balls are sold to golf courses, retailers, golf ball companies or factories.
Factors Which Affect The Income A Golf Ball Diver Makes
As we’ve discussed before, the amount of money a diver makes will depend on the amount of balls retrieved. But there are certain factors which can affect this. These include:
1. Competition From Other Divers
Golf ball divers may encounter stiff competition from other divers who may arrive on the golf course before them. Most of them are nighthunters or some call them nighthawks. They will try to bypass the fees paid on the course in order to gain a profit on every ball found. This poses a significant problem for the seasoned golf diver as they are now left with fewer golf balls on the course.
Secrecy is also prevalent in the golf ball retrieval industry. No diver wants anyone to know how many balls they retrieved from a specific golf course since this will only bring about more competition.
To avoid any competition, divers may often lie on the amount of balls they collect from the water when interrogated by golfers and reporters. The diver may tell them 1,000 when in reality he’s got about 3,000 golf balls. While some divers are willing to speak to reporters, most of them will avoid going on interviews altogether.
2. Your Level Of Skill
The job of golf ball diving is not for everyone. You have to be really good at it in order to make good money. Some of the skills divers must have to do the job include:
- Excellent swimming ability
- Good levels of concentration under demanding physical conditions
- Calmness under pressure
- The ability to work both as part of a team and alone
- Stamina and physical fitness
- The ability to follow strict safety procedures
Divers have to put up with muck and chemicals from the water such as fertilizers and pesticide run offs. As a result, these divers must have regular tetanus shots and quickly hop into showers after they finish diving.
Not to mention the visibility under the water is almost zero so they have to use their hands to feel around for golf balls. Most of them will struggle to see their fingers and even the aquatic animals in the water such as snapping turtles, snakes and gators that are lying on the bottom of the pond. This leads us to our next point…
3. Proper Gear And Equipment
Golf divers must be equipped with the right gear, toolkits and equipment so they can stay safe in the water while they search for enough golf balls. Some of the equipment include:
The most important is the scuba gear. Without this, it will be almost impossible for the diver to retrieve golf balls. The scuba gear comes with the mask, gloves, hood and a standard tank. The golf bag is also attached to collect the golf balls.
The scuba gear not only provides enough breathing gas to help the diver to swim deep under the pond, but it protects their skin from algae and dangerous chemicals in the water.
A knife is convenient in the event the diver gets trapped under the water by a random object like a fishing line. Due to the heavy weight of scuba gears, it also increases the possibility that the diver gets stucked.
The diver can use his knife to cut away any plants or obstacles. The knife also serves as a protective weapon in the event that the diver is attacked by alligators, snakes or other dangerous aquatic wildlife.
Golf ball divers are often required to have around 200 hours of diving experience before they can legitimately contract with a golf course. These diving experiences include first aid and dive rescue.
An experience diver will almost always retrieve more golf balls than an amateur diver because they are used to being under water. Not to mention, they are more well equipped, and have acquired more knowledge and skills throughout their career.
5. Big muscles
Golf balls usually weigh around 1.62 ounces. When you have about 100 of these strapped to your back that adds up to approximately 10 pounds.
The weight of the golf balls in addition to the weight of the scuba gear can really begin to bump down the diver. Therefore, divers should have strength and muscle to carry the bag of golf balls around the water. Lifting weights is a great way of increasing strength that you will need to carry the bag of balls.
If you don’t have enough strength to carry the golf bag, then that will negatively affect the number of balls you retrieve, thus you will make less money from the job.
Professional golf ball divers make a decent amount of money each year. The job is very risky, but if done correctly, divers can profit big.
On good days, divers can collect thousands of golf balls and rake in between $1,000 to $2,000 on a single day. But on average, it’s usually around $200 per day.
To make the most out of their day, divers will work from sun up to sun down with few breaks in between. While most divers make between $50,000 to $100,000 per year, few manage to rake in over a million dollars each year. At the end of the day, it all depends on how hard the diver works.
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