How Do You Know When to Replace Golf Equipment?
Jack Nicklaus once used a golf club for 37 years. The Golden Bear was merely a cub in 1958 when he put a MacGregor 693 3-wood in his bag at just 18 years old. That club was used to win two United States Amateur championships, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens, five PGA Championships and six Masters. He did not have to replace the original leather grip until 1981. The last of those major titles came in 1986 when Nicklaus was using a 28-year old club.
The old war horse was retired to the USGA Museum in Far Hills, New Jersey in 1995. As Nicklaus tells it, the leading edge of the persimmon-headed club had been worn down and rounded so much he simply could no longer hit the ball into the air.
A Different Time
These days manufacturers bring out new lines of clubs every year. Golfers always seem to be hungering for the next best thing and have come to anticipate the most technologically advanced clubs on the market. It is unlikely that many clubs in your bag are going to be kept around until they finally wear out and become museum pieces. However, now and then, we stumble upon a club or set of clubs that feel so perfect; we can’t help but want to keep using them.
Here are some things to keep an eye on to let you know when it is time to replace an old club or send it out for rehab.
If your clubs are several seasons old, take a close look at your shafts for straightness. Years of pounding your irons into the ground can put a bend in the shaft, making it time for a re-shafting. Of course, that slight bend may not be all bad for your game, but the USGA rules mandate that shafts must be straight.
Steel shafts can benefit from a quick wiping down with a golf towel to prevent rust from forming and leading to premature snapping. Graphite or composite shafts require additional attention. Wipe these shafts with furniture wax or specially formulated golf shaft wax. The goal here is to protect the microscopically thin layer of polyurethane coating that is the only thing keeping the graphite fibers in the shaft from unraveling.
The Club Heads
A quick spray and rub with furniture wax will also keep your club heads shiny and new between rounds. If routine maintenance hasn’t been performed in a while, use a fine 0000-graded steel wool to remove any surface rust.
The grooves on the club face of irons are also going to deteriorate over time. A clean, sharp groove is beneficial in imparting backspin to the golf ball. You are probably familiar with the practice of keeping your grooves effective by frequently cleaning the club face, but you may be less familiar with the technique for restoring worn-down grooves.
A groove sharpening tool will grind out the grooves in your irons and restore them to their original effectiveness. With the tool, make about five passes at a 45-degree angle to resurface each groove. Then change the angle of the sharpener to vertical to gouge out the groove to its factory-ground depth. The USGA has a say here as well; grooves should not be deeper than 0.02 inches. However, most groove sharpening tools have a restrictor to keep your clubs street legal. Groove cleaning tools like the Frogger BrushPro Club Cleaner Brush pictured above can be found at Golfballs.com!
Slick grips should ultimately be replaced, but to forestall that event scrub rubber grips with hand soap and a specialty brush once a month. Leather grips can be kept supple and tacky by massaging olive oil or leather cleaner into the strips. Do not leave leather grips exposed to the sun as this can cause cracking.
At the end of the golf season, empty your bag and scrub out all the pockets with an old toothbrush. Give it a quick hose down and let it dry in the sun. If you would like to try refreshing the shape of your bag, try stuffing towels in the pockets after cleaning to bring back it’s original form.