Fed up with losing golf balls? Then you need a golf ball retriever.
Picture the scene. You’ve just paid a hefty sum for a box of shiny new premium golf balls, marked your first one up neatly, and then watched in horror as it flies into a lake off the tee. You quickly rinse through the box and are back to using those old, scuffed balls from rounds gone by. That is why you need to invest in a golf ball retriever.
We know, they’re not the coolest bits of kit to have in your golf bag, but if they’re saving you cash, especially in these tight times, then you shouldn’t care. Plus, times have moved on, and they’re no longer those huge metal poles with an odd cup on the end that makes it look like you’re taking part in an extreme egg and spoon race.
They come in all different shapes and sizes, plus a variety of colours, and ensure you can retrieve your ball from the trickiest of spots. They can’t help you retrieve the shot your wayward effort has cost you but they can spare you a good few quid across the course of a season. And you might even be able to retrieve a few extras!
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Golf ball retrievers vary in price, but they won’t break the bank and are far cheaper than having to buy a dozen balls every couple of weeks or needing to buy a new 5-iron having dropped yours into a lake as you desperately try to save that beloved Pro V1.
We’ve also included a couple of options to make collecting balls from the cup and from around the putting green far easier.
EXPLAINED: How we test golf equipment
Best Golf Ball Retrievers 2022
Gotcha Ultimate XL Ball Retriever
RRP £42 | VIEW OFFER
The most expensive on our list, £42 is getting a little pricey for a ball retriever. But this is by far the longest model we tested, so it’s ideal if you’ve got a habit of sticking it in the middle of the lake!
The ‘Gotcha’ is just over 53cm but extends to an incredible 18 feet (550cm). We tested it at various lengths and it was pretty reliable, although it became a little harder to control when extended to its maximum.
Picking up the balls is easy – you simply press down on the ball and it pops into the cup – and only the wildest of players will have an excuse for ever losing any with one of these.
Callaway Golf Ball Retriever
RRP £31.99 | VIEW OFFER
One of the most expensive options on our list, but it’s a premium model that is exceptionally well built from high-quality aluminium alloy and won’t be bending or snapping the first time you dunk it in a pond or push it through a bush. Plus, it’s cheaper than any box of premium balls and you can buy it with a dozen Callaway Supersofts for less than £48.
How does it justify its price tag? Well, the sure-grip handle is excellent, ensuring you can confidently reach for a ball without fear of the retriever slipping out of your hand, and it extends up to six feet long in four increments using a really simple twist and lock mechanism. It also comes with a really neat headcover, which not only protects the clever mechanism but also makes it look pretty stylish alongside the clubs in your bag.
We used it on a course that was packed with water hazards and, between our fourball, rescued seven balls that would otherwise have been lost to the lap of the lakes, meaning it effectively paid for itself in one round. Impressive.
Prowithlin Golf Ball Retriever
RRP £29.99 | VIEW OFFER
This is a superb option for senior golfers as it’s more than just a retriever for those balls that have found hazards. It includes a handy ball ‘picker upper’ that screws into the handle and allows you to pick the ball out of the hole without bending down, saving any strain on your back.
It extends to six feet, meaning it’s not the longest on our list, but still gives you plenty of length to reach your ball, and it’s made from stainless steel so there is no risk of it rusting. Has a really solid feel and is dead easy to use.
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The Golfers Club Pocket Ball Retriever
RRP £16.99 | VIEW OFFER
A superb option because it is incredibly compact at little more than one foot but extends to more than 15 feet, ensuring you’ll be able to reach almost any ‘lost’ ball.
We were concerned that its compact nature might make the retriever more susceptible when fully extended, but it didn’t bend very much at all in testing thanks to the sturdy material. The handle is ergonomic and the retriever itself is made from a sturdy material.
The telescopic design makes it easy to extend and retract making this a great option for someone who wants a compact retriever with plenty of scope for extension.
PGA Tour Telescopic Ball Retriever
RRP £15.99 | VIEW OFFER
We know, you haven’t seen many of the PGA Tour’s stars using one of these. Well, they get paid for using their balls rather than having to shell out their own cash so they’re less bothered about retrieving them than us normal folk.
No real bells and whistles with this ball retriever, but it has a slip-proof grip and a telescopic mechanism that extends from 33cm to just beyond six feet (202cm) and is dead easy to use.
Includes PGA Tour branding, while the ball collection cup is made from seriously durable plastic.
Brand Fusion Personal Foldable Golf Rake – With Ball Retriever
RRP £9.99 | VIEW OFFER
A tool that was designed to help during Covid times, when rakes weren’t allowed to be shared, this remains a superb multi-use tool that ensures you’ll never have to wander around the bunker to collect a poorly placed rake and you’ll be able to retrieve your ball if it finds a hazard.
It’s not extendable but still longer than any club in your bag and it’s less than a tenner for a really handy bit of kit, especially if you have a tendency of finding a lot of bunkers, water and hazards!
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Slazenger Golf Ball Retriever
RRP £9 | VIEW OFFER
You can always rely on Sports Direct for a bargain golf gadget and this Slazenger ball retriever is a great ‘picker upper’ for less than £10. You can’t even buy a box of Srixon Distance balls for that!
This is a classic, no frills, retriever, easily extending up to more than nine feet (281cm), with an easy-to-use cup to collect your ball from whichever hazard it has found.
It won’t win any awards for style, and doesn’t feel as sturdy as the premium Callaway model, but it will more than do the job and save you money on golf balls. Plus, you can use the change from your tenner for a chocolate bar in the pro shop.
You can get the Slazenger Comp Ball Retriever for the same price, which is slightly more stylish, but only extends to just over six foot.
Slazenger Ball Pick Up
RRP £2 | VIEW OFFER
Not a golf ball retriever in the same sense as all the others, but if money is tight and you just want an easy option then this is a great little gadget from Slazenger.
Pop it on the end of your putter grip and it’ll make retrieving the ball from the hole a whole lot easier and save your having to bend over. And if your ball has only just dropped into a hazard, bush or crossed a hazard line then you can use it to get that back, too.
Have a look down the back of your sofa and you’ll probably find the money to cover the £2 it costs, or ask the kids to get you one next birthday or Christmas.
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Best Practice Ball Retrievers
PGA Tour Practice Ball Collector
RRP £27.99 | VIEW OFFER
Feel like a pro as you wander around the practice facility picking all of your balls back up with a simple push. Just like a regular shag bag, press it down over the ball for an instant pick up.
Lightweight and durable aluminium is paired with a hard-wearing nylon bag that holds up to 75 golf balls. A comfortable carry handle makes it extremely easy to use.
Masters Practice Ball Clikka Bag
RRP £21.99 | VIEW OFFER
A quick and easy way of collecting up to 80 golf balls, making it ideal for those of us who do a lot of practice. Simply wander around the practice putting or chipping green, hover it over a ball and push down and it will collect them in its plastic container.
It’s lightweight but hardwearing, with a one way catch ensuring the balls don’t fall back out once collected. They can be easily accessed via the velcro fastener.
A great piece of kit, helps you avoid back strain collecting balls and saves you the embarrassment of trying to flick balls up with your wedges but getting it horribly wrong…
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The Golfers Club Clikka Tube
RRP £4.99 | VIEW OFFER
This offers a simple and effective way of retrieving your golf balls from the practice ground without straining your back.
The one-way catch system stops them from falling out once collected and it can hold up to 20 balls at a time. It is lightweight and will fit into most bags for easy transportation. Ideal for storing your practice balls, too.
How do I choose the best golf ball retriever?
Let’s take a look at the different factors you should consider before buying a golf ball retriever.
Length: They all retract to similar lengths, so won’t take up huge amounts of room in your bag, but it’s worth considering the maximum extension length. The longer it extends the more chance you have of retrieving a ball from the middle of a pond or bush.
Ease of use: Choose the model that you find easiest to extend and contract, won’t add unnecessary weight to your bag and has a reliable scoop. The last thing you need is to have successfully scooped up your ball, only to drop it again as you’re bringing it in.
Strength: A sturdy model is should be your preference because your retriever may be used to pull balls through reeds and long grass, or out of bushes. If it’s not strong and well-built then it could break easily. If you don’t tend to ‘lose’ many balls then you could get away with a less sturdy option while still having the security of a retriever in your bag, just in case you need it.
Storage: Depending on how much room you have in your bag, you’re probably going to want a pretty slimline and compact model that can just slot into a pocket of your bag, or among your clubs, especially if you use a stand/carry bag.
Budget: As with any golf equipment budget, set your budget and stick to it. We’d recommend you spend a little more on a ball retriever to ensure you get a model that is sturdy and extends to a decent length. Plus, this is a device that should save you money in the long run by ensuring you lose less balls. If you spend £20, you’ll have repaid it by retrieving five Pro V1s or eight TaylorMade Tour Responses.
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Golf Ball Retriever: FAQs
Will a ball retriever class as one of my 14 golf clubs?
No. Just because they have a grip and belong in your golf bag they don’t breach Appendix II of the Rules of Golf, which states a golf club is required to have a head and a shaft. Neither umbrellas or ball retrievers are classed as golf clubs.
Do I need a golf ball retriever?
It really depends on the type of golf course you play on, how many balls you tend to lose that could have been retrieved with one of these accessories and whether you’ve got the spare cash. Ultimately it will save you money in the long-run, especially if you are a golfer that plays on a course with lots of water and hazards. They take up very little room, don’t weigh a lot and could help you lose a lot less balls.
What length golf ball retriever do I need?
We think a ball retriever should extend to at least six feet. Realistically you can probably reach anything less than that with a wood or long iron – just go careful not to drop it in the lake! We’d probably go with one of the longer options from our guide, just because it gives you options and even more hope of retrieving your ball.
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