We’re here in 2015 to start the new golf year right. But to do so, we first need to take a look at our equipment. Taking a little time to make sure everything in our bag is all good can go a long way towards ensuring we get out of the gate fast.
There are things we should check prior to ever setting foot on the course:
Take all the clubs out of your bag and inspect the shafts.
For graphite shafts, look for cracks and delamination. Check the area of the tip where the shafts would rub the “mouth” of your golf bag. Depending on the material used there, it can cause the urethane clear-coat and/or the paint to wear away. If left unchecked, it can start to wear away the graphite/composite fibers, which can cause shaft failure.
For steel shafts, check for any cracks, pitting, or rusting. Much like delam or paint/fiber wear on a graphite, these issues can cause shaft failure in steel models. A pitted or rusted shaft can also cause the shaft to play more flexible than it was originally designed to. Also, check to make sure the shafts are straight.
If there are any issues, it’s generally safest to replace the shaft(s) in question.
Grips are the easiest to check. If they feel slick, they’re most likely not any good. But that isn’t the end of the story… It might be that they just need a good cleaning.
A very simple “machine” you can make, that I got from Clubmaker Online, is very easy to build. I’ll let Arnie, the inventor, explain how to make it:
The “machine” consists of two units. One is a dip tube consisting of 1.5″ PVC (approx. 22″ long) with one end capped. This holds enough Wesley’s Bleech White tire cleaner to cover the length of the grip. Second unit is another tube with a section of indoor/outdoor carpeting secured inside the upper end of the tube to act as a scrubber and bottom end secured inside a plastic container that used to hold salad peppers that has been filled halfway with water/detergent solution. Step one plug vent hole in grip with a golf tee, step two dip in dip tube, step three remove and place in scrubber tube and pump up and down, step four blot dry with towel, step five remove tee. Grip is now clean and tacky like new!
Inexpensive and easy to build and use. If you can’t find the Wesley’s (I found it in the automotive section of the Big Box Store), any other tire cleaner can work.
There may be an instance where, even after such a deep cleaning, the grip just doesn’t feel right. Not like it used to. Some sandpaper, about 200-grit, and a gentle touch may recondition the grips to where they used to be. If all else fails, it may be time to buy some new grips.
Now we check the clubheads. For wood and hybrid heads, it’s pretty simple: look for dents and cracks. Dents anywhere but the face might be annoying, but won’t effect the playability of the clubhead. I’ll leave that up to you if you want to replace them.
For irons and wedges, look for deep gouges in the face. If you run your thumbnail over it and it catches, that’s a pretty good sign of a gouge that’s too deep. You can also use the “thumbnail trick” to check the depth of the grooves; if you hear a “click” sound, the grooves are still deep enough for maximum use.
If they aren’t, you have two options:
1. Buy a groove sharpener and score all the grooves back to their original depth. You’ll need some elbow grease and patience. You might also need some lead tape; you’re taking away material, and if you take enough, you can alter the swing weight. It only takes 2g of weight change in the head to make a change. It generally takes a change of three swing weight “points” (6g) to make a noticeable difference. Something to consider, at any rate.
2. Buy new heads. Obviously, this is the least cost-effective… Sometimes there’s no other option.
Cleaning club heads is pretty simple. All you need is a bucket of warm water and a scrub brush. Put the heads in the water and let them sit for a few minutes. The more dirt and gunk you have built-up in the grooves and crevices, the longer you’re gonna want to let them sit. After the soak, just scrub them up.
Techie Golf-Stuff Alert! Grooves do not impart spin. That’s hype; it’s the friction between the ball and face interaction that imparts spin. What grooves do is, they channel dirt and grass away from the face. The bigger grooves (think the “box” grooves prior to 2010) can channel away more gunk, which in turn allows for more efficient ball-to-face interaction, even from deeper rough. Check this out for more info.
The Other Stuff
I can’t stress this enough. Regardless if your irons/wedges are stainless steel or carbon steel (but moreso if they’re the softer carbon steel), you should have your lofts and lie angles checked by a local fitter before going out. You’d be surprised how they can be bent out of whack (the technical term LOL) through normal usage.
We can use a scenario: Say the 5 iron gets bent weak (loft added) by two degrees, while the 6 iron is bent strong (loft taken away) by two degrees. Through normal usage, you have two clubs that are only 2 degrees apart- basically, they’ve become exact same club!
You’re doing yourself a MAJOR disservice by not having these checked…
Sometimes, ferrules like to slide up the shaft, as if they don’t want any part of being near the club head for some reason. It doesn’t effect playability, but it looks funky. Again, there’s more than one option:
1. Leave it as is. As my old wrestling coach used to say, it’s “mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it don’t matter”.
2. Grab a box wrench or adjustable wrench from your tool box. If you have a loose single or unwanted pair of leather gloves, cut two of the fingers off. You can use the wrench, with the leather “fingers” acting as a protective cover, to slide the ferrule back down. I’ve dripped acetone into the bottom (head side) of the ferrule; this allows for it to slide a little easier. Be warned, though, that it makes it easier to damage the ferrule, because it softens it up. I’m only batting .500 when it comes to fixing ferrules this way.
3. They make ferrules now that are much easier to use. They’re split ferrules, and they come in all kinds of colors for simple (yet effective) customization. If that’s your thing.
All you have to do is heat the old ferrules up with a heat gun or butane/propane torch. Not too much; just enough to soften them up. Then just cut them off with a knife or box cutter by (CAREFULLY! editor’s disclaimer: GLG is not liable for any injury to yourself and/or your equipment. Thanks for understanding) scraping the blade from the top of the ferrule down to the hosel. Apply some epoxy (spend the little extra for a small thing of clubmaker’s epoxy) to the tip where you want the ferrule to sit and snap them into place. Easy!
4. Remove the heads yourself, replace or move the ferrules, then reattach the heads. For steel shafts, all you need is a heat gun and gloves. Heat the hosels really well, then twist the heads off. Don’t do this with graphite shafts, though, or you’ll break the fibers and ruin the shaft(s). You’ll need to either pull the head straight off, or have a device to do it for you. Very tricky, as well as costly- if you get the equipment, it isn’t cheap; if you damage the shaft, that isn’t cheap to replace, either.
5. Have a local club builder do the work for you (or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do it, or any other work you may need, for you! We can discuss options and cost prior to any commitment).
The good news, in my opinion, about options 4 and 5 is your choice of ferrule options expands exponentially. Sure, you can get some really good ferrules from the normal (read: clubmaking companies, like Hireko Golf and the GolfWorks) resources. There are two other options I’d like you to consider:
Grail Golf. They have many options. The colors are pretty vibrant, as well.
Cell Parts. If you want options… holy shit. Your head might explode. They can do almost anything. There’s too many to list… If you email them, they can send you pics of the options. They’re a little more costly, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe you couldn’t find something you’d like.
(editor’s disclaimer… again… GLG offers these two options as a personal recommendation, with links for easy accessibility. We are not affiliated with either company. They just make good ferrules.)
So, dear readers, if you want to start the new golf year right these are some things you can do for your equipment to make it happen. Nothing terrible, in my opinion. Nothing overly technical. Here’s to more fairways and greens, a better score and a better us for the new year!