You can tell a lot about a golfer by taking a look at his clubs. More often than not, a clean and well-organized set of golf clubs will belong to a pretty good golfer. Dirty, unorganized clubs tend to belong to golfers who aren’t making much progress with their game. That’s because regularly cleaning your golf clubs doesn’t only help them look better, it helps them perform better. Learning how to clean your clubs correctly will help you get the most out of your clubs, and cut some strokes off of your game.
More Than a Pretty Face
You may think that cleaning your clubs is a purely aesthetic chore. Well, that’s just not true. Sure, golf clubs definitely look better when they have a nice shine to them, but there’s a much more important reason you should clean your clubs regularly: Clean clubs perform better than dirty clubs.
Take a look at the grooves on the faces of your wedges and irons. Those grooves aren’t there for decoration. In fact, the grooves of your club are the biggest helpers you have in getting the ball up in the air with backspin. Upon contact, the bottom grooves of the club “grab” the ball and allow it to roll up the face of the club. In other words, your clubs’ grooves are important—very important.
All of the build-up that your clubs’ grooves accumulates throughout the round or practice session — sand, grass, or mud — puts a layer of interference between your club and the ball. The lack of direct contact with the club leads to less backspin, less ball flight, and less control, all of which result in worse shots.
Steps to Clean
Depending on which part of the golf club you’re aiming for, there are different ways to clean your clubs. With any part of the club, though, remember to always dry the club before finishing up. Wet clubs will rust more easily, and rust is much tougher to clean than dirt and grass.
Here are the parts of the club you’ll want to clean:
Cleaning the heads of your clubs shouldn’t involve much more than a wet rag, depending on the severity of muddy build-up. If you use colorful tees, you’ll probably notice some paint streaks running along the head of your driver. These can also be easily wiped away with some warm water and a rag.
The clubface is the most important part of the club to clean. It is here that dirt build-up will affect the result of your shots more than anywhere else on the club. This is because the clubface is where the grooves are located.
For the grooves, you’ll want a hard-bristled toothbrush, or something to that effect, to really scrub between them. With warm water, a bristled brush can remove dirt, grass, mud, sand, and gravel. The grooves are deep and narrow, so make sure you give each one enough attention.
Hot Tip: Use a Tee
If you’re on the course and don’t have a bristle brush with you, don’t worry. You can still clean out a lot of the debris in your clubs’ grooves by using an ordinary tee. Using the bottom, pointed tip like a tooth pick, clean out your grooves between every swing. You’ll see the results in your shots.
Once you have the grooves cleaned out, it’s just a matter of wiping away the excess dirt, debris, and ball marks from the face of the club — which can be done with a wet rag — before your clubface is clean.
Your clubs’ shafts shouldn’t be too dirty, as they rarely make contact with anything but the inside of your bag. But in some cases, like after regripping your clubs, you might need to wipe them down to remove excess grip solvent. Whether your clubs are graphite or steel-shafted, a gentle swipe with a damp towel should do the trick.
If, for whatever reason, you have a resilient spot of solvent, rust, or residue on your shaft, take caution when trying to remove it. Graphite shafts, which are more easily damaged and scratched, should be cleaned with additional caution. If solutions like glass cleaners don’t help, the careful use of a razor blade or similarly sharp object should be a last resort.
Most of the damage done to your grips is permanent wear and tear. In these cases, you’d be better off completely replacing the grip. But, even grips in good condition can use a bath once in a while due to the sweat, oils, and grime that builds up from regular use.
If your clubs are vintage, they may have leather grips. If this is the case, consider using leather cleaning supplies to freshen up the grip without damaging any of the material.
However, most of today’s grips are made of rubber. These grips are much easier to clean than their leather counterparts, as all you need is some dish soap, warm water, and a rag. Apply a small amount of the soap to a damp rag, and gently lather the grip, removing the grime. After you’ve given it enough tender loving care, go ahead and dry the grip with a fresh rag, and you’re done.
Clean in Between
Cleaning your clubs between every shot is the best way to go. This way, you’re always on top of your equipment maintenance, and you get the best possible results from every shot. Although many of the cleaning techniques you’d use at home involve soap and brushes, keeping a towel in your bag and a water bottle for quick cleaning is something every golfer should do. Eventually, you’d like to be at a level where you have a caddie to do this work for you. But in the meantime, learning how to take care of your golf clubs will help you get there.