Golf Ball Puzzle





Introduction: Golf Ball Puzzle

About: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

This is a simple little puzzle that's easy to make, and is a great display piece.

A golf ball is sealed inside a jar full of water, and you simply have to balance the ball on a tee that's glued to the lid. It's not terribly hard to solve, but it does require a steady hand and a fair amount of patience.

We had a puzzle like this kicking around my home when I was a kid, and I wanted to make one for my own kids to have. This is how I did it.

Step 1: Materials

To make this you just need a few things:

  • suitable jar* with a screw-on lid
  • golf ball
  • golf tee
  • 2 part epoxy putty. I'm using this SteelStik
  • hobby enamel paint. I have this set of Testors paints
  • 2 part epoxy, this is what I have

*The jar I'm using was a pickle relish jar. It is 3.5 inches tall, and about 3 inches wide.

For a much more challenging puzzle, use a larger jar that allows the ball to fall all the way off of the tee!

Step 2: Cut the Tee

Depending on the size of your jar, cut the tee so it will hold the ball at a desirable height within the jar (when the tee is placed on the inside of the lid, under the inverted jar).

I cut my tee 1.25" inches down from the top. I used a hobby knife and scored around the tee, and then gently snapped it in two.

Step 3: Epoxy Putty Mound

I scratched up the inside of the lid with a hobby knife so the epoxy putty would bond a little better.

I then cut off a 1-inch chunk of epoxy putty and mixed it until the color was completely uniform. The putty was pressed into the center of the lid in a small mound-shape.

The putty will harden quickly, so it's important to do the next step in quick succession.

Step 4: Place Tee

The golf tee was pressed into the center of the still-soft mound of epoxy putty.

Take care to ensure that the tee is well-centered on the lid, and the top of the tee is level.

Step 5: Paint Some "grass"

I used some green enamel hobby paint to add a coating to the epoxy and the inside face of the lid.

Step 6: Epoxy for Lid

For this little puzzle I wanted the lid to be permanently affixed to the jar.

To do this, I mixed up some 2 part epoxy and used a popsicle stick to scrape small amounts of epoxy into the lid, all around the inside edge.

Step 7: Seal the Jar Under Water

I placed the jar in a bucket of water.

The lid (with epoxy in place from last step) was submerged as well, and I tried to release any trapped bubbles so they wouldn't end up in the sealed jar.

The lid was threaded tightly onto the jar, and the jar was removed and dried off.

Step 8: Done!

Despite my best efforts, there were hundreds of tiny micro-bubbles clinging to the ball and tee, and these eventually joined together into the large bubble shown in the top photo. Oh well!

I will probably make another one with a larger jar to provide a tougher challenge, but this has proven to be a great little puzzle for all ages.

Let me know if you make one; I'd love to see it. Thanks for looking!



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    15 Discussions

    This is very easy to solve, but it still looks pretty cool!

    Boiling the h2o before use may get rid ofsome bubbles

    What about putting some blue dye in the water to give it that "Blue sky, Green grass" look. :) Love this idea, thanks for posting!

    1 reply

    You could certainly add some blue dye if you felt inclined. that might make a nice effect! :)

    cool. I wonder if you used salt water to boost the density close to that of the golf ball if it would be even more difficult...

    Oh, I've got to make some of these for grandchildren - great instruct able!

    So how would you do it the second time to reduce bubbles? Maybe store the jar and ball underwater overnight before trying to glue the lid on?

    4 replies

    I haven't tried this yet, but to reduce bubbles, perhaps a few drops of dish soap in the water, to break surface tension?

    Boil the water first to remove dissolved air.

    Glycerin will break the surface tension in the water without the side effect of soap bubbles that you will get with the dish soap. Glycerin is in dish soap and is the reason dish soap breaks the surface tension. Look in the pharmacy area of Walmart or a similar store or just ask the pharmacist. Its a clear kinda syrup like liquid used to sweeten kids medicines and such.

    When I put the jar and lid under water, I just shook them out to free any bubbles. I think if I had just rubbed the tee and golf ball with my fingers to free all the tiny bubbles, that would have done the trick.

    Great idea!!!!! I would suggest 2 minor changes. First would be to use an exterior grade clear silicone caulk in place of the 2 part epoxy to seal the jar. The silicone will seal the jar, and is also water proof, which is something you might not be able to say about the epoxy. Second is to use a small amount of bleach in the water to prevent any mold or algae from forming due to the air bubble.

    If you want to go all out, look for a large snow globe at garage sales or swap meets. Seems harder when you are trying because of the free space inside but works the same.

    This is great! My grandfather had one like this when I was younger and it was devilishly hard but possible to do. I remember getting it, then setting it down and telling him not to touch it ever again. Haha! I'm going to see if he still has it and try to get the dimensions of the glass.

    I love how simple but interesting this puzzle is. I could only imagine how many other puzzles just like it you could make with simple everyday items.