It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you've got a bucket of golf balls and a 7-iron. You're standing on the shore of the lake, hitting ball after ball into the lake
You're having so much fun and you're working on your game too. Then you notice the No Littering sign. Oh, oh... you start to panic and think - is it actually legal to hit golf balls into a lake?
Let's explore this question in more depth.
Legal or Not?
On the one hand, you could argue that hitting golf balls into a lake is perfectly fine. After all, everybody does it. If everyone's doing it, how could it be illegal? Furthermore, golf balls are made of plastic and rubber, so they'll eventually break down and won't hurt the environment, right?
There was even a top course in Michigan, Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club that encouraged players to hit a golf ball into Lake Michigan before hitting their tee shot at the Par 3 12th Hole. How crazy is that? And this was as recent as 2019. You can read the article here, "Plastics pollution? Course urged golfers to hit balls into Lake Michigan", courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.
Just because everybody does it or did it doesn't make it legal.
In fact, hitting golf balls into a lake is considered littering. Littering is defined as "the deliberate or careless dumping of rubbish in an outdoor place."
Would you throw a can of soda into the woods or dispose of plastic bottles in the ocean? Of course not! That would be littering. The same goes for hitting golf balls into a lake. It may seem like harmless fun, but it can actually be a violation of state laws and result in a fine.
Most states have laws that prohibit littering and impose fines for violators. For example, in California, the fine for a first conviction can be between $100 and $1000. In Georgia, the first offense for littering is a fine of up to $1,000. So, if you’re thinking about hitting golf balls into lakes, you might want to think twice lest you find yourself having to pay a hefty fine.
The Social Taboo Around Hitting Golf Balls into Lakes
In addition to littering, hitting golf balls into lakes is also considered socially taboo. When you hit a golf ball into a lake, you are not only harming the environment but also disturbing the peace and tranquility that many people seek when they are near water bodies.
If you are at a crowded lake and hitting golf balls into it, chances are that someone is going to get hit by one of your errant shots. No one wants to be hit by a golf ball, especially when they’re not expecting it. There have been plenty of documented cases of boaters and fishermen being hit by a golf ball.
But even if hitting golf balls into a lake isn't technically illegal by Federal Law or socially acceptable, that doesn't mean it's good for the environment. Plastic and rubber golf balls will take years to break down in the water, releasing harmful chemicals into the ecosystem. So next time you're ready to launch some practice golf balls into the lake think twice about the environment and possible penalty. Your wallet (and the fish) will thank you for it later.
So what's the verdict? Is it illegal to hit golf balls into a lake? Technically, yes, it could be considered littering or disturbing the peace. In addition to being illegal, hitting golf balls into lakes is also considered socially taboo because it harms the environment.
If you really want to practice hitting golf balls, we have a much better solution than hitting them into the lake. See below and find our review on the Best Portable Driving Range.