Knowing how to clean your golf clubs will provide optimum performance without having to spend forever scrubbing them.
Dirty golf clubs don’t just look untidy, they actually have a serious impact on performance.
To determine just how big a difference clean golf clubs made, we performed a thorough test on a launch monitor, pitting a clean 7-iron against the same club with dirty grooves, and the difference was staggering. Shots with dirty grooves lost 7mph of ball speed (5.5% of our tester’s total). Backspin dropped 52.5% (to 2,566rpm from 5,399rpm), the shots flew six yards lower, and the descent angle fell from 43° to 36°.
Despite the lower ball speeds, the dirty club generated an additional three yards of carry distance, largely due to the spin rate being more akin to that which you’d expect with a driver than a 7-iron. That extra distance is certainly not worth the cost of a shallow descent angle and lack of spin, which would make it very difficult to hold a green.
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Clean vs Dirty Golf Grooves test: The statistics
Hopefully you can now see why it’s so important to learn the grooves of your golf clubs. But what is the best way to clean golf clubs? Let’s find out…
How to clean golf clubs
1. Wipe your golf club after every shot
Giving your golf club a good wipe with a towel – ideally a damp one – not only means that the club will be ready for action if you use it again in the same round, it also minimises the build-up of dirt, which means you don’t need to fully clean your golf clubs as often and it shouldn’t take as long when you do.
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2. Soak your golf clubs in soapy water
Fill a bucket or washing up bowl with warm, soapy water, and stand your clubs up so the heads are submerged. Try to keep the ferrule and above out of the water, as you don’t want water to get inside and potentially melt the glue that attaches the clubhead to the shaft (though this is unlikely). Allow them to soak for 5-10 minutes.
3. Clean the grooves with a brush
Use a brush to scrub the clubface, removing all dirt from inside the grooves. You can buy specialist golf club cleaning brushes, but a toothbrush or washing-up brush will also do the trick. Soaking the clubs will have softened up the dirt so you shouldn’t need to scrub too hard, but don’t be afraid of giving them a good going over – unless you’re using a really firm, wire brush, you won’t scratch or mark the metal. You can even use a tee peg, if it helps remove any particularly stubborn dirt.
Drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids don’t tend to gather dirt in the same way as irons and wedges but if you are scrubbing those types of clubs, be more gentle as they’re more likely to be marked or scratched – use a sponge or towel instead of a brush.
4. Give the club one last wash
If there’s any dirt left on the club, give it another dip in the warm water and then wipe it clean with a towel. This is good time to give the sole of the club a good wipe to make sure it’s looking nice and clean, too.
How often should you clean your golf clubs?
If you’re a perfectionist who wants to maximise every “marginal gain”, you’ll clean your golf clubs between every round. But every two or three rounds is plenty for most golfers, particularly if you’re using a towel after every shot.
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How to clean golf club grips
As well as cleaning the grooves and heads of your golf clubs, cleaning your golf club grips is also very important.
Over time, your grips will have a build-up of sweat and oils from your hands, plus reside from suntan lotion, sand, dirt, mud, grass, and even food and drink. This will reduce the level of grip on offer, causing you to have less control over the club and/or grip it tighter than you would normally.
Here’s how to clean your golf club grips properly:
1. Fill a bucket or sink with warm, soapy water
2. Dip a cleaning brush in the water and scrub the grip on all sides
You can afford to scrub the grip quite vigorously; a slightly rough texture actually enhances the grip levels. Just don’t shred the grip to pieces!
3. Rinse the grip with clean water
4. Dry with a towel
Depending on the type of grips you have and how wet you got them during the clearing process, they may still be damp even after you’ve wiped them with a towel. It’s therefore a good idea to make sure you leave enough time for your grips to dry before your next round, so don’t clean them right before you’re about to go and play. Don’t put them straight back into your golf bag wet as this will slow the drying process.
You don’t need to clean your golf club grips as often as the clubs themselves – a few times a year will suffice for most golfers, unless you’re playing every day and/or are particularly prone to making them dirty.
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