A golf ball diver visits water hazards at golf courses to recover lost balls. These balls can be processed and recycled. Some divers work for recovery firms that contract their services out to regional golf courses while others may work as freelancers. This work can be grueling and highly variable. Many people in this field work part time in the summer months, when the weather is fair and numerous golfers are out on the course.
These diving experts need SCUBA certifications and usually must also supply their own equipment. They use maps of golf courses to identify all the water hazards and to chart out a plan for covering as much water as possible in a given workday. Golf ball divers are paid by the ball and have an incentive for collecting large numbers of balls as quickly as possible to make their work profitable.
Golf courses may charge a fee to recover golf balls on their grounds. The golf ball diver may also need to negotiate timing and scheduling with staff, as there may be times when the course does not want divers present. Freelance work requires good people skills to land contracts for golf ball recovery services and to interact with golfers and staff who may be present on the course. Work for a company may come with lower pay but more job security, as the company takes care of fees, contracts, and other issues. The company may also have enough contracts to offer full time work.
In some cases a golf ball diver may work as a poacher, taking balls from a course that already has a contract with a different diver or company. This practice is frowned upon in some regions and in others can be dangerous; sneaking in after dark, for example, could mean that a golf ball diver may miss warning signs and hazards that are hard to spot in low light. Golf ball poaching can come with a higher profit margin, as the diver doesn't need to pay a fee to work through the course.
A person with an interest in being a golf ball diver may be able to find listings at contracting companies. It can help to look for companies in regions with a high concentration of golf courses, like Florida in the United States. Golf ball divers may need to travel for work and should be prepared to spend long hours in the field. Their work may also involve packaging golf balls for transport to recycling facilities and driving heavy trucks with large loads of recovered balls.