Do Golf Clubs Wear Out – How Long Do They Last?
There is something quite awe-inspiring about seeing perfect wear-marks in the grooves of an elite players clubs. You can see how precise his or her swing is that they can repeat that impact time and time again. It’s something that all golfers want on their clubs.
Is this something that can affect the performance of the club though? Can you have such a wear mark that you actually wear the club out? Read on to find out more and make sure that you’re clubs are still fit for purpose.
The Driver That Decided To Quit
I used to have a deal with a golf company, I’m naming no names, and they had released a new driver. I was trying out this new club with a view to replacing my current gamer, it looked sleek, had a great sound and felt brilliant. So far, so good, but I hadn’t hit a ball yet.
I hit a few, I was impressed, and then it happened. Just ten balls in, the whole crown caved in and cracked! Turned out this definitely wasn’t the driver for me. Whilst this wasn’t exactly worn-out, it wasn’t going to last.
Do Golf Clubs Wear Out Over Time?
The simple answer is yes, however different parts wear out at different rates. The grip, as you can imagine, wears out fastest. Most pros suggest that average golfers get clubs re-gripped every year. What about the rest of the club though?
It’s really your grooves that suffer as you hit more and more balls. Pros change wedges fairly regularly because they get less spin from worn grooves. These worn grooves can also affect the consistency of your shots and they can become more erratic.
How Long Should They Last?
Clearly, this all depends on how much you play. The more you play the faster they will wear out and the level you play at also has an effect, the better you are the more concentrated the wear marks so the shorter the lifespan.
How Often Should I Replace My Clubs?
Your wedges will need replaced more regularly than the rest of the clubs in your bag. Let’s say you play twice per week, that’s 104 rounds a year. That probably equates to something like 2000 wedge shots a year, you need those grooves to help you control those approach shots. You probably want to replace them every couple of years at this rate.
How Often Should I Clean My Clubs?
There are few things worse in golf than seeing a beautiful set of clubs being neglected by their owner. Grooves caked in mud and lacking shine, it’s such a sad sight to see. I clean my clubs after every single shot and give them a proper soapy clean every week. The more you take care of them, the more they’ll take care of you (this may not be scientifically accurate).
Signs Your Driver Is Getting Tired
Grooves and grips aren’t the only things that wear out on a club and, of course, your driver can get it a little past it too. Modern drivers work using technology that works like a trampoline. At impact, the face of your barking dog flexes and propels the ball toward the fairway (sometimes).
This is the moment of inertia (MOI) that you may hear about, however over time this can start to change and the energy return decreases. Losing distance and a “dead” feeling are two of the first signs that something isn’t right. Inconsistent ball flight is another sign that it may be time to retire the club too.
Signs Your Irons Have Worn Out
Given that we are talking about multiple clubs here, this one is a lot trickier. You will certainly wear some clubs out faster than others because you are probably going to hit more 7-irons than 3-irons, for example. Like with the driver, a lot of clues about the condition of a club comes from the ball flight.
Worn clubs give erratic ball flights as they can’t impart the spin on the ball that they should. A well-struck iron shot will come off the face fast, the spin on the ball causes the dimples to stabilise the flight. If you hit it hard with little spin, it won’t fly as far or as nicely. It will seem to “jump” around the air.
Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Wedges
Your wedges are your attacking/scoring clubs. These are the tools you call on when you’re going for the flag and hunting a birdie, you need to know that they will help you control the ball. The first sign is that this control decreases, you won’t get as much spin and the ball will start rolling on that little bit more.
You may also see clues on your ball, especially if you use a urethane-covered tour ball. At impact, the wedges act like teeth and bite into the ball. A new ball with new grooves would be a mess after a round. If your balls are looking fairly perfect after the round, you could be needing new wedges.
When Should You Replace Your Putter?
Given that you hit this club with the softest stroke of all, it’s hard to see how a putter can wear-out. It can, depending on what material the insert is made of, but it is very rare for this to happen. Check out the wear mark on Tiger’s Scotty Cameron.
Sometimes you just lose confidence in you putter, you just can’t seem to hole a putt with it. This may be time to think about trying something new, maybe a different style of putter or a different length. It could also be time for a putting lesson though, an investment that could be far more rewarding.
Can I Make Old Clubs Perform Like New?
If you take good care of your clubs, keep the grooves free from control-killing dirt and regularly have them re-gripped, your clubs will last a long time. It’s never been easier to give a driver or fairway wood a new lease of life by changing the shaft in it. Adjustable drivers mean that you can easily switch one shaft for the other.
You can also have irons re-shafted and re-gripped to make them nearly new again. Once the grooves are worn out then that’s pretty much it for that club but you can certainly get many years out of your irons, if you don’t play excessively. Keeping the grooves clean is the key to lasting performance.
When To Upgrade From Beginner’s Clubs
You’re developing into a bit of a player and you love golf, those to factors alone can be enough for you to go and get some new clubs. Beginner’s clubs are great and you probably don’t need to change them until you’re a low-teen handicap player.
Modern iron technology is so good that players of many different levels can benefit from different irons. Back in the day, it was really important to be playing clubs for your level but that just isn’t the case these day. Avoid bladed irons and you’ll be just fine.
Old Irons Vs New Irons, How Have They Changed?
Golf has been revolutionised in recent years with new materials and ever-more science making clubs more impressive than ever. The driver has seen the biggest change, no doubt, but what about irons? Now that the driver has hit the limit of what it can achieve in terms of new tech, the irons have undergone a silent revolution.
The biggest difference is in the performance of off-centre hits, they actually go somewhere now. The heads have also been changed in sets for individual roles so long irons are more forgiving within one iron set. All of this makes it easier for you to play and enjoy the great game.
What Is The Most Important Club To Replace First?
Let’s say we’re starting with every club in your bag as brand new, the first clubs you will need to replace are your wedges. Not only do you use these clubs more on an average round, the spin they generate is important for stopping the ball on the green. Thankfully, they are probably the cheapest clubs in your bag to replace, the average golfer will be looking at a new set every three years or so.
After that, you will probably want to be looking at a new driver every five years, although that is personal preference. My driver is five years old now and I am in no mood to change it, it works well and that’s more important. Don’t change unless you see a big benefit by upgrading.
How Much Should I Spend On New Clubs?
Golf can be expensive, I think we all know that, but new clubs need not break the bank these days. There are some great companies out there that offer clubs at a very reasonable price, Wilson and Ben Hogan being two prime examples. Also, the second hand golf club market has never been so good, you may get a bargain there.
You should spend as much as you can afford and no more. If you blow your budget on a set of clubs hoping that they will turn you into a player overnight, which they won’t, you may grow to hate the clubs. You will put more pressure on them which may make you play even worse. Spend what you can comfortably and enjoy your new gear.
What Should I Look For In New Clubs?
Going golf club shopping is brilliant fun but it always comes with a side-helping of fear that you make the wrong choice. That’s why you need to find your clubs with the help of a pro who can fit you and guide you in your choices. Get a proper fitting session a trust the data.
One of the most important things to look for is, how the club makes you feel when you put it behind the ball. Never underestimate how much influence your mental state has on your golf game, if your clubs inspire a bit of confidence then you’re halfway to a good shot. Other than that, just stay to budget.
Shafts To Suit Your Swing
If you go to a specialist fitting centre, the amount of shafts on the wall that you can try will blow your mind. You just won’t know where to start and it can overwhelm you easily. The most important thing to do is to swing naturally when you’re getting fitted, the person fitting genuinely doesn’t care how far you hit the ball other than to get you the right clubs.
You need to get a good feeling from the shaft as you try it, again this is about making you feel at ease during a shot. If the numbers are good but you don’t like the feel of the shaft then it’s not a good sign and you should probably keep searching.
Irons To Suit Your Game
I think these are the best looking irons out there, they just look aggressive and classic. They are, however, the least forgiving club-type on the market and really are just for the better players. They have a small sweet spot and off-centre hits go nowhere.
If you’re a low single figure, or better, golfer, then blades are clubs to consider. You get more control with these clubs and they just look exquisite. Modern blades are easier to hit than ever but don’t let them fool you, these are for the players.
These are the clubs for golfers who want the looks of a classic blade but with a little bit more forgiveness. They are beautiful clubs and will let you away with those slightly off-centre strikes, they are part cavity-back part blade. They also tend to look great behind the ball with a slim top-line at address.
Muscle backs are mainly for single figure golfers or below as you still need a good level of consistency to get the best from these clubs. These are a great alternative for a golfer who wants blades but also wants a little bit of margin for error.
As the name suggests, these clubs have nothing behind the sweet spot and hold their weight around the perimeter of the club head. This means that you have a far larger strike zone than blades and so these are the most forgiving iron-type.
There are cavity back irons out there to suit every type of golfer and even some tour players are going with this type of club now. They let you away with bad strikes yet, with modern technology, you can still get exceptional control of the ball which used to be an issue. Most golfers should be playing cavity back irons.
Nowadays, the good folks at the large club manufacturers make it even easier for you to decide by allowing you to mix and match. You can have a half-set of one iron type then the other half another type. This is great as you can give yourself a little more forgiveness in the longer irons and more control in the scoring clubs.
One set-up, one I have used in the past, is muscle backs from 2 iron to 5 iron then blades down to the wedge. If you do this, you need to be careful that there isn’t too much of a gap between the clubs of different types. For example, at first my 5 iron flew way too far compared to my 6 iron so I had to have those two clubs specially adjusted to get round this.
Golf is a really hard game to take-up later in life, mainly this is because we don’t like not looking being at something. One way to get round this is to use beginner’s clubs with larger heads which means a larger sweet spot. These clubs make it a lot easier to start striking the ball well and consistently.
Confidence is key in golf, at every single level, these clubs will get you feeling good about your new sport faster. If you stick with golf, it will probably be because you’ve picked it up quite quickly and these clubs will help speed that process up.
Choosing a putter is all about how it feels in your hands and how it makes you feel. Nowadays, you can be fitted for a new putter and this is highly recommended. You will be amazed that two putters of the same style can be different in performance when your stroke is added to them.
There are so many styles of putter from the mallet (most forgiving), to the heel-toe (most classic) and onto the blade (least forgiving). I love the classic heel-toe weighted Anser style putter and have almost always played one.
Hybrids And Woods
Here you are looking for something that gives you effortless and consistent distance. These are the clubs that you want to deliver serious yardage but they are also the ones that can get you in the most trouble if you go off-line so think about that. You need to pick something that flies nice and consistently straight.
If all you care about is how far it goes then you could end up with a lot of lost balls and penalty strokes. If you find a wood that goes a decent distance in a small dispersion range then you have struck gold, buy it!
Recommended Starter Sets
If you are looking to get all of the clubs you need to really make a go of being a golfer but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. There are a number of brands now offering complete starter sets to get you up to speed on the equipment front fast. This is a good way of getting everything you need in one go and the quality of the gear is excellent.
Cobra XL Speed Set
These are made with beginners in mind and are really forgiving, the perfect way to get some confidence into your game as you set off on your journey into golf. The XL stands for extra-long as they are designed to maximise the distance your shots go which also helps you get round the course. This is a fantastic starter kit to get you off and running.
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Wilson have won more majors than any other golf club manufacturer in history, they have huge pedigree as a golfing brand. They are also very underrated as club makers. The Wilson Platinum package is like the Cobra XL above but specifically designed for women. They look great and will get you feeling good about your golf quickly.
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Callaway Strata 16-Piece Set
This really is everything that you could ever need as a new golfer. This set contains clubs that are of surprisingly good quality and a set-up that really suits new golfers. The long irons are replaced with hybrids as they are much easier to hit and it all comes in a really good looking bag too. This really is an incredibly good value set that will last you many years as your game progresses.
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So yes, golf clubs do eventually start to wear out and will need replaced. For the average golfer this will take some time but you need to just be aware of what can go wrong if you don’t replace your clubs often enough. The most important thing you can do is take good care of your clubs and keep them free of dirt, especially the grooves.
As a golfer, your clubs are your tools that help you navigate the course and avoid danger. They are also there to help you escape danger when you inevitably find it. Your clubs are your friend and you have to treat them as such. They will get tired and they will need to be retired, it’s a sad day when it happens but it’s also exciting. Take care of your clubs and pay attention to your ball flight, you’ll spot the clubs that need replaced.
Hi, I am Matthew, a mid handicap golfer who likes to play as much as possible. I love trying out new gear and this blog is where you can find all the gear I have tested over the years!