The "plunk" sound a golf ball makes when it hits the water is something all golfers dread. To those who specialize in retrieving golf balls from ponds, it's just what they want to hear. Collecting water-bound balls can be a lucrative venture, since the balls can be reused and the majority of players don't bother to go after them. Ball retrievers have a few methods of retrieval at their disposal.
Recognizing the appeal of being able to fish golf balls out of water hazards, some companies have produced devices specifically for this purpose. Ball retrievers are designed to be long (up to 20 feet in some instances), so that no golf pond is too deep for ball recovery. A standard retriever is made up of a circular ring attached to a long pole. Once the ring is placed around the ball, the user tightens the ring so that the ball is secured, then pulls it out of the water. Other more elaborate retrievers act as pond-bottom rakes that can fish multiple balls out of the water at one time. These retrievers can reach the bottom the deepest water hazards, and fold up to a compact size when they're not being used.
Some golfers prefer to retrieve balls using regular fishing nets. Though they are generally more limited in range than a designated ball retrieval device, a well-placed net can snag balls within view. For a golfer out for a casual round with friends, bringing along some sort of net is a wise course of action, particularly if the pace of play is slow. This can also be done at the end of the day, when most players are off the course and the pond is presumably full of golf balls. Players must ensure the net's holes are small enough that a ball won't slip through, and the lack of range may force a golfer to go right to the edge of the hazard, increasing the risk of falling into the water.
Someone with a set of scuba gear can clean out an entire golf course pond by himself. It doesn't require an elaborate scuba outfit for someone to swim into a pond and retrieve a few balls at a time, but this exercise can be time-consuming and exhausting. With a sealed bag and underwater breathing apparatus, a person could spend as long as he wanted beneath the surface to retrieve every golf ball the pond has collected that day. Golf courses will often leave a member of the grounds crew in charge of diving in to fetch balls that it can resell to players at a discount.