The start of a new year is a good time to check your vitals: Had a physical lately? Life insurance up to date? What about the batteries in your smoke detector? And while you’re at it, what’s the condition of your golf clubs?
While maybe not as crucial as an EKG, a close look at your golf clubs can restore some health to your game. Wear, tear, and damage can affect how your clubs feel and perform. But according to Allen Gobeski, Master Club Fitter for Cool Clubs in Scottsdale, golfers don’t examine their clubs often enough.
“Make a visual test of everything,” Gobeski suggests. “Bent shafts, cracked graphite, extreme wear on irons, cracks in the heads of drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids. We see more than you might think.”
Common problems golfers miss include a loose ferrule (the plastic sleeve at the end of the shaft); loose epoxy, which you can hear rolling around in the shaft; and worn grooves.
“Run a finger over the grooves,” says Gobeski, “and if you can’t feel them, change clubs. New grooves produce more spin.” Check the clubs’ soles; if they’re nicked and worn, chances are the grooves are, too. “And look at your favorite club. If it’s really worn, try practicing with the rest of them.”
The off season is a good time to see a pro or clubfitter. Have him measure your clubhead speed to be sure you’re playing the right shaft stiffness, while also checking your clubs’ loft and lie angles so they’re matched within the set. Have him look for any damage to shafts and heads, too.
About a month before opening day, check your grips, something you should do before every round. “Softer lightweight grips are popular but not very durable,” says Gobeski. “If you play a lot, you might have to replace them two to three times a summer. When you see thumbprints on the grips, it’s time to replace them. Or if they’re slick and shiny looking, are cracking where the grip meets the shaft, or if they’re getting hard and dry. Changes in climate, even from the trunk of your car into the house, can dry them out.”
Don’t forget the shafts. Graphite can crack and break; if you notice any wear marks, get them checked. As for steel shafts, they can bend, but the cause should be obvious: “There’s only three reasons shafts bend,” says Gobeski. “You did it intentionally, you did it playing, or someone did it to you. So tip the bag boy.”