The perfect time to MOT your golf clubs
Neil Cooke is Professional Clubmaker and the Tour Technician on the European Seniors Tour and Golfshake is lucky enough to have Neil writing a blog on Golfshake to give the inside view on a professional golf tour.
Neil's has over 30 year experience in club fitting, club making and was the Technical Director at Golfsmith Europe. He's considered an expert in his field and regularly writes technical articles for various golf publications and runs Golf Technical Services supporting the European Seniors Tour.
This time of year can be pretty frustrating with the bad weather constantly closing golf courses, and even when you can get out playing often it’s on winter greens and tees. This down time however, is a good chance to have a look at your equipment and see if it’s fit for purpose. This is often called a Club MOT. There are two factors worth taking into consideration, general wear and tear, and the lack of an industry standard for golf clubs. Firstly let’s have a look at general wear and tear, the main things to look out for are….
The modern synthetic grip will wear out gradually of the course of time, the fact it’s a gradual process is the problem. We don’t put the clubs away one weekend then take them out the following to find they ‘ve gone slick and shiny. As the grip slowly deteriorates, we just grip the club tighter and tighter leading to tension in the hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders, not great for that smooth takeaway! Leaving the clubs in the back of the car in either in heat or cold only accelerates the problem. Grips should be inspected at least twice a year.
Loft and Lies
Regular use can alter these which in turn can affect yardages and accuracy. Although forged irons are perceived to give better feel, these soft, mild steel heads are affected more than the more durable cast clubs. Golfers practising on mats or playing on hard ground are especially vulnerable.
It is a myth that golf shafts “go soft” over time, both steel and graphite shafts, if looked after, will last a golfer’s lifetime. However, shafts will alter in playability if damaged. Steel shafts should be inspected for being bent, dented or rusty. Graphite shafts can suffer from being worn down by rubbing against the bag and if damaged can start to delaminate. Unfortunately, all of these symptoms indicate the shaft needs replacing.
Most of us don’t hit the middle of the face consistently enough to wear out the grooves in our irons. Those 10 pence piece sized marks on the face of tour pros’ iron are a result of hitting thousands of shots out of the sweet spot, something well beyond the club golfer! For us the sand wedge is the club most likely to lose the grooves, this is due to the abrasiveness of the sand in the bunkers, though most problems with grooves can be resolved by just cleaning them with a nail brush or tee peg! Grooves can be “freshened up” by a skilled clubmaker, but if you do find a wedge is worn out, it needs replacing.
The second, and possibly the more frustrating, reason your clubs need an MOT is the lack of an industry standard. If you carry the same brand of driver, fairways, hybrids, irons and wedges then you should be OK, if not you need to find out all the specifications and if they add up to a matched set. There is no industry standard for loft, lie, flex, length, swingweight or grip size and shape. For example if you have Brand X irons, these may have a soft regular flex shaft fitted with a .580” ribbed grip and a loft of 44* in the PW. Now, if you carry Brand Y wedges these may have firm regular flex shafts, a .600 round grip and have a Gap Wedge loft of 52*. This combination makes it harder to play consistently well and that’s even without looking at the woods and hybrids! To have your clubs properly analysed you need to go to an expert clubmaker or golf professional who has access to all the necessary machinery to carry out the tests correctly. It is worth keeping a record of your specifications (all tour players do) and regularly have a check-up. After all, the game is hard enough without using the wrong tools!
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)