A ball washer is a device for washing golf balls, and is usually found near the tee box on a golf course.

A golf ball is actually a highly engineered aerodynamic object, with the dimples on its surface creating a cushion of air that provides lift and direction of travel based upon the ball's spin. Any dirt on the ball disrupts the flow of air over its surface and causes it to behave erratically in flight. Washing the ball before the start of every hole (once the ball is hit, it cannot be touched until it reaches the green) ensures proper aerodynamic performance.

There are two basic types of ball washer, using different methods to get the ball clean:

  • The Plunger-type uses a vertical screw-shaped agitator with a ball-sized hole in the middle, set in a brush-lined shaft filled with water. the golfer places his or her ball in the hole and rapidly pushes and pulls the shaft into and out of the washer. The screw shape spins the ball against the brushes, cleaning the ball. (This is the type of washer that Bill Murray is using in the movie Caddyshack. He is standing behind a bush looking at a group of women so it looks like he's masturbating.)
  • The Crank-type washer has a crank (duh) on the side and a hatch on the top. The golfer can put multiple balls into the mechanism and clean them by turning the crank, which rotates the balls through a water-filled brush-lined channel in the cleaner.

A driving range will have a huge motorized ball washer, often linked to the ball dispenser, so that recovered balls can be cleaned en masse, stored, and vended.

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