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Golf Club Maintenance Tips

Golf clubs are an investment that will return dividends for many years but not if they are stowed away and forgotten in between rounds.  Fortunately, taking care of golf clubs is not complicated: water; mild dish soap; a bucket; and an old toothbrush are all that is needed for basic, regular maintenance.  Properly maintained clubs can keep shots controlled, accurate and powerful.  Let’s see how a little time can keep those clubs hitting quality shots for years to come.

Head Care

Use head covers for your woods.  Woods are especially vulnerable to damage, particularly if they are made of wood, and nicks can affect the ball’s trajectory.  You should always use head covers to protect your Woods from getting jostled in the golf bag.  Irons don’t require head covers, however, a cover for your putter is a very good idea. As putters are prone to damage, which can affect the accuracy of your put.  Delicate woods and responsive irons can be dinged and nicked when being jostled around in your golf bag. You should ensure that you thoroughly wipe and dry your wood head before putting the cover back on, as woods can be damaged by water and humidity trapped under a head cover.

Make sure you have a golf towel attached to your bag, so that you can wipe the face your clubs after each shot (be mindful not to delay play while you are doing this).  Wiping dirt and grass from the grooves aids to keep your shots accurate and aids with cleaning at the end of the day.

Keeping clubs free of dirt and debris is a vital part of caring for golf clubs, both during and after playing.  Different heads require slightly different cleansing methods.  The following sections describe how golfers should care for their club heads.

Cleaning Golf Clubs

You should ensure that you clean your clubs properly at least once every few rounds, if not at the end of every round.  Hardened dirt on the clubface is not something you want to deal with.  Please be aware that different clubs require different care.

Cleaning your clubs

Metal Irons

Fill a bucket with lukewarm water, do not use hot water as this may loosen the ferrule on the clubs.  You only need enough water to cover the heads of the irons.  You should avoid the shafts being submerged.  Add some mild dishwashing detergent to the bucket.  Place the irons in the bucket so that the ferrules are just above the water level, and allow them to soak for several minutes.  Using a soft vegetable brush or toothbrush, scrub the grooves of each head to remove all debris and dirt. When you have removed all the debris from the grooves you can scrub the rest of the club head.  Rinse the club heads with clean water and make sure all debris and dirt has been removed.  Take care not to get the shafts wet when cleaning your clubs.  Dry the heads with a towel and ensure that you run the towel up the shaft of the club to wipe away dirt and ensure that it is dry.  If you have any rust on your club, it can be removed with fine grade (000, 0000) steel wool.  Once you have finished cleaning your heads they can be polished with a steel or chrome polish.  Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Metal Woods

Metal Wood heads can be cleaned by dipping them briefly in lukewarm, sudsy water and immediately removing them.  Wipe away debris and dirt with a damp cloth, and dry them immediately.  Any remaining dirt in the grooves can be gently bushed away with a toothbrush, but do not use the toothbrush anywhere else on the head.

Wood Heads

Wood heads should not be submerged in water.  Instead, each head should be cleaned with a soft damp cloth and immediately dried.  You can apply wood wax, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Steel Shafts

Steel shafts require no more than a quick wipe, but graphite shafts will benefit from regular cleaning.

Graphite Shafts

Graphite shafts are considerably less durable than steel and require special care.  Similar to enamel on teeth, the coating of polyurethane on a graphite shaft protects a lot of sensitive stuff in the layers below.  If the polyurethane wears off, which jostling around in a golf bag is likely to cause, these layers get scratched away, the graphite itself becomes exposed and eventually, damaged.  If the paint disappears on any part of the shaft, you risk the fibres being lacerated and worn, which can lead to the shaft snapping. Longneck head covers are one way to protect graphite shafts from nicks and scratches in the bag. In addition, they should be regularly cleaned and sealed.  Since solvents can break down the polyurethane layer, it is advisable to clean graphite shafts with water and a soft cloth.  Avoid any solvents or anything abrasive that can penetrate the polyurethane layer.  After cleaning and drying the shaft, apply a quality furniture wax or even a specialty shaft wax to keep your graphite looking new for years.

You should avoid slamming your clubs, leaning on them, or otherwise exerting unnecessary strain, as this can damage the shaft.

General Maintenance

Inspect your grips for cracks, worn areas or shiny areas.  These are signs that it’s time to think about new grips.  Good grips are essential to good golf.

Inspect your shafts for splits, dents or nicks.  If you see any of these it might be time to replace the shaft (shafts will essentially last forever, just considering normal golf play, but they can be damaged by being jostled around in your golf bag).

Grips

As the only point of contact between the golfer and the golf club, grips are a vital part of the game and should be kept in optimal condition.  Check grips regularly for wear.  If there is fading, cracks or slippery spots, or if they feel loose, the grip should be replaced.  To maintain good condition they should be cleaned regularly. Standard rubber grips can be kept playable for several years with a regular monthly routine of scrubbing with a bristle brush and a little liquid hand soap.  Steel-shafted clubs should never be allowed to rest in a bucket of water with the grip-end down, since moisture can accumulate around the butt end and lead to unseen rust inside the grip.  Grips that feel tough and crusty may be sanded lengthwise with medium-coarse sandpaper, then cleaned.  If there is no improvement, they most likely need to be replaced.

Heads

During a round of golf, make sure you keep the grooves of your clubs clean, using a moist towel.  Your scores will thank you as much as your clubs, for this small effort.

Storing Golf Club

Golf clubs should be stored indoors, whether for the long-term or short term, in a dry temperature-controlled space. You should clean and dry your clubs before placing them in the golf bag and before storing them for more than a few days. The golf bag interior should also be fully dry.

Storing your golf clubs in the boot of your car is not recommended, even for a short period of time; they will be considerably jostled around, and will be subject to extreme heat during warmer weather, which can cause the epoxy in the clubs to break down.  The boot and garage can get very hot, which won’t damage the club head or shaft themselves, but could increase the chances of rusting.  A short time in the trunk or garage is more than OK; but for long term storage, think indoors.