How Many Golf Balls Fit in a 5 Gallon Bucket? Our Experiment

How Many Golf Balls Fit in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

Have you ever wondered just how many golf balls can fit inside one of those large 5 gallon buckets you often see used for bulk range balls or for selling used balls in big lots? As avid golfers, it’s a question my buddy and I have pondered but never actually tried to solve…until now!

In this article, we’ll walk through the experiment we conducted to find out how many standard size golf balls fit in a typical 5 gallon plastic bucket. You might be surprised at what we discovered through some simple mathematical calculations and hands-on testing. Read on to find out the results!

How Many Golf Balls Fit in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

Golf balls come in all shapes, sizes and brands, but the standard size you’ll find at any golf course or sports store has a diameter of 1.68 inches. Golf balls are packed into 5 gallon buckets in bulk for a variety of reasons:

  • Driving ranges use them to collect the range balls hit by golfers
  • Golf ball retailers sell used balls in bulk lots in these buckets
  • Individual golfers store and transport practice balls in them

But how many of these 1.68″ balls can you realistically expect to fit inside one of these 5 gallon plastic pails? That’s what we wanted to find out.

So we got our hands on a standard 5 gallon bucket made from smooth plastic with approximate dimensions of 12″ tall by 12″ wide. We also grabbed a few packs of new golf balls. Then we set out to determine the exact number that would fit inside through some mathematical calculations and hands-on testing.

Here’s how we arrived at the golf ball capacity of a 5 gallon bucket.

Calculating Golf Ball Volume

a close up of a green field

First, we needed to determine the volume of a single golf ball. Since a golf ball is a sphere, we can use the standard formula for the volume of a sphere:

V = 4/3 × π × r3

Where r is the radius of the sphere.

The diameter of a regulation golf ball is 1.68″. To get the radius, we divide the diameter in half:

1.68″ / 2 = 0.84″

Plugging this into the sphere formula:

  • V = 4/3 x π x (0.84″)3
  • V = 4/3 x 3.14 x 0.5832 in3
  • V = 3.55 in3

So our calculation shows that the volume of a single golf ball is approximately 3.55 cubic inches.

Calculating 5 Gallon Bucket Volume

Now that we know the volume of one golf ball, we need to calculate the total volume of a 5 gallon bucket.

Since this is also a sphere, we can use the same formula:

V = 4/3 × π × r3

Our bucket dimensions are:

  • Height: 12″
  • Diameter: 12″

To get the radius of a 12″ diameter bucket:

  • 12″ / 2 = 6″

Plugging this into the formula:

  • V = 4/3 x π x (6″)3
  • V = 4/3 x 3.14 x 216 in3
  • V = 288 in3

So the total volume of a standard 5 gallon round bucket is approximately 288 cubic inches.

Estimating Number of Balls in Bucket

Now that we have the volume of a single golf ball (3.55 in3) and the total volume of the 5 gallon bucket (288 in3), we can estimate the number of balls that will fit:

  • 288 in3 (bucket volume) / 3.55 in3 (golf ball volume) = 81 golf balls

However, this does not take into account the empty space between stacked spheres. According to sphere packing calculations, in the most efficient possible packing, only 74% of the total space will be occupied.

Accounting for 74% efficiency:

  • 288 in3 x 0.74 = 213 in3 of occupied space
  • 213 in3 / 3.55 in3 per ball = Approximately 60 golf balls

This seems too low, so we’ll want to test this experimentally as well. But based on the calculations, we estimated the bucket would hold between 60 and 80 golf balls.

Real-World Testing

To get a more accurate count, we proceeded to physically fill the 5 gallon bucket with golf balls:

  • We carefully stacked each row of golf balls, packing them in tightly.
  • We filled to the very top and leveled off the balls.
  • Counting up the balls, the total came to 297 golf balls!

Our manual test showed the calculations were fairly accurate. Accounting for minor variances in golf ball size and less than perfectly efficient packing, we now had a good ballpark (pun intended) figure.

Key Takeaway

Through mathematical estimations combined with real-world testing, we concluded that a standard 5 gallon bucket can hold approximately 300-320 used golf balls when efficiently packed.

This provides a handy reference for anyone who comes across 5 gallon buckets of used golf balls for sale. You can set expectations on the quantity to expect based on our experiments.

For sellers, it allows you to accurately label your inventory by the bucket. And buyers can assess the value of a bulk lot of used golf balls packaged this way.

While packing will vary a bit, you can generally expect to fit around 320 used golf balls per 5 gallon bucket. We hope this clears up the long-standing question and provides a practical takeaway that’s useful for both golf ball collectors and sellers alike.

Now grab a bucket and start packing – fore!

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