Tune Up Your Equipment
Technology has never been more important and it can make the game more enjoyable
February 28, 2015
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Recent improvements to materials have made drivers lighter, stronger and easier to hit. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Snow may be covering a good portion of the country, but with March 20 around the corner (also known as the official first of Spring), it's time to start taking inventory of your golf clubs in preparation for the new season.
Unless you happen to live in a part of the country that didn't received a visit from the polar vortex, your game likely went into hibernation as 2014 came to a close. While your clubs didn't pick up a layer of rust during the offseason, they still need to be inspected before you hit the course.
Here are some tips to ensure your clubs are ready to roll for your first round of the year.
Need new clubs?: While you were shoveling that driveway during the winter months every equipment manufacturer released at least one new product for the 2015 season. There's nothing wrong with the clubs in your bag, but if you've been considering a new driver or a different set of irons, the best time to make the change is before you get fully invested in the new season.
If you do decide to put something new in the bag, make sure you go through the fitting process to confirm you have the best possible club/shaft combination available. Most OEM's now offer premium shaft upgrades at no additional charge, so there's nothing wrong with picking the high-end aftermarket model.
Groove check: If you spent last season pounding balls on the range and logging three or four rounds per week, you may want to inspect the grooves on your irons and wedges.
It may not seem like a big deal at the time, but worn grooves, particularly on your wedges, can lead to a lack of bite around the green. Getting the wedge regrooved is an option, but it's an inexact process that's probably not worth the time.
"A lot of things can happen when you regroove an old wedge," said Kyle Cronkright, the director of club fitting at the Jim McClean Golf School's Texas Golf Center (Ft. Worth) facility. "Regrooving the wedge incorrectly can make the grooves non-conforming. Not only that, regrooving multiple times can make the face thinner and lighter — to the point where you lose head weight you can't get back — and the tolerances might not be the same."
The average wedge costs around $100 and has better performance and more consistency. If it's time to replace a well-worn club in the bag, spend the extra money to get fresh grooves.
Loft and lies: The average golfer likely doesn't know the current loft and lie specs on his irons. It might not seem like a big deal, but the loft and lie on a club can change over time, altering flight, distance and the ability to make consistent, solid contact.
Because a single swing is usually the difference between second-place and a two-year exemption on the PGA TOUR, pros get their iron specs checked on a regular basis. How often usually depends on the player.
For example, Russell Henley prefers to get his irons checked every couple of weeks. The average golfer should probably get a loft and lie check once or twice per season — and even more so if you spend a lot of time practicing on astroturf mats.
Get a grip: If you logged at least 40 rounds last year — one practice session counts as one round — you may want to consider regripping your clubs. According to Golf Pride, there's about a three to four stroke increase if you haven't regripped your clubs in over two years.
"Grips are like a tire on a car," said Lissa Bertalot, Golf Pride's marketing and communications manager. "It's the only part of the club that you touch. You really want that contact between you and the club to be strong."
How can you tell if your clubs need new grips?
"If there's any kind of shine or buildup of oil, the cord in the grip is actually starting to break away, which can lead to a loss in performance" said Bertalot. "That's a pretty good indication that it's far past the time you want to regrip."
It costs roughly $70 to get a set of clubs regripped, making it one of the cheapest improvements for your trusty clubs. If your grips are still in good shape, consider using a towel with warm soapy water to clean any oil or residue off the surface.
Shaft and ferrule inspection: Even if you bought a set of clubs in the last year, you'll want to give your shafts and ferrules a once-over. While still uncommon, clubs that are subject to extreme temperatures and humidity suffer from expansion, contraction and moisture that could weaken the epoxy bond prematurely.
Do a quick check just above the head to ensure the ferrule and shaft are still intact.
Golf ball inventory: Unless you store your golf balls in the Sahara or in an igloo at the North Pole, you likely don't need to worry about the performance of the golf balls in your bag. With that in mind, it's still worth doing an inventory check to determine if you need to head to the local golf store for a new box.
Check the pockets of your golf bag: Want to know what's fun? Digging into your golf bag for a glove only to realize a bottle of sunscreen was left open during the winter months. Or better yet, you find a piece of fruit that's turned into a full-blown science experiment.
Take a few minutes a do a quick bag inventory before you hit the course. You don't want to be the guy who has to spend the first round or practice session of the season cleaning up the inside of your bag.