Don't abandon your golf clubs for the 0ff-season until you give them a good once over to check for issues regarding the condition of your equipment that seriously could affect your game next season. Following a season's worth of play, now is a perfect time to check out your clubs for normal as well abnormal wear and tear (actually any time of the year is the right time). Get your set of clubs out and follow a few simple steps to ensure that your clubs are ready, and perform effectively the next time you venture onto the course. The steps that follow will show you what to look for when doing a quick evaluation at home. For a more in-depth analysis of your clubs, your golf professional is trained to scrutinize your equipment and make certain it is in tip-top shape. Regular equipment evaluations and performance upgrades will be among the wisest move you'll ever make. If you find that repairs are necessary, make them immediately as a break or splinter can cause serious injury.
Club Head Check
Damage to a club head can run the gamut from cosmetic scratches (with which all golfers can live with) to rattles (which may require repair) to cracks in the face (a major defect). Face cracks can seriously alter the performance of your woods, and sometimes can lead to complete failure of the club. If this is the result of a manufacturing or material defect the reputable shop (from which you purchased the club) should replace the head at no cost to you under a limited warranty.
A loose ferrule requires a simple re-fastening. However, if the ferrule is angled to some degree away from the hosel of the club head, it would be an indication of a bend of the shaft where it enters the head of the club (hosel). In this instance the shaft itself is probably bent and would need replacing.
Begin your evaluation with your club heads. Take a look for scratches, nicks, dents, rust or worn spots. While these might not directly relate to how well the club performs in your hands, they certainly do make the club look lees than perfect. If your clubs look as if they've been through a war, maybe its time to add a new set to your holiday wish list. Carefully examine the faces of your woods for cracks; any imperfections here will lead to imperfect shots on the course (maybe it isn't your swing after all that's making those drives consistently one way or the other). Since most clubs are generally under warranty for cracking or breaking, the shop at which you purchased the clubs should handle any warranty work quickly and with little or no charge.
Next, listen for any rattles. Rattles are most often caused by loose weights in the shaft or epoxy that has broken loose. These can be repaired quickly and inexpensively. While they may not affect the actual playability of your club, they can be unnerving as you swing or waggle your club. While you are at it, check out the ferrule (the plastic trim piece above where the shaft enters the club head) to see if it's loose. You can epoxy loose ferrules back into place to make the club look more like it did when it came from the factory.
Grip Check #1
Throughout the year, examine your grips on a regular basis for signs of wear and tear. The most obvious conditions to look for are worn or shinny spots that indicate that the grip needs to be replaced. A location where these conditions being the most prominent are where the thumb of your most forward hand rests on the grip. If you notice that the grip seems hard and shiny as well as slippery when swinging the club, it is time for replacement of that grip.
Grip Check #2
Check the portion of the grip that is closest to the shaft as this is where cracking of the grip will most likely occur first. This is a sure sign that your grip is long overdue for replacement. In replacing these grips, it will enhance the appearance and improve the performance of your clubs.
Next in your evaluation is a look at the grips. They are the only place and component at which you have direct contact with the club. Making certain that your grips are in top shape and that they fit your hands is a prerequisite for improved play. Any smooth, shiny or obviously worn spots indicate it is time for a grip change. Grips should be replaced at least once a year if you play regularly. They should also be sized to match your hands to maximize performance. Re-gripping is a fairly simple process and most of the time can be done quite easily by the do-it-yourselfer.
Graphite Shaft Check
Look for abrasions in areas where the golf shafts actually rests against your golf bag. Another area to check would be near the hosel of your club head. In this areas look for fraying of the fibers of the shaft. Such damage actually weakens the shaft and you don't really want them to end up like this. Smudges of the paint on the shaft should not be any concern at this time but warrants checking periodically for worsening conditions.
Shaft Rust Check
As you know rust never sleeps, especially if you have a tendency to play a lot of wet-weather conditions (rain and high humidity) or even if you store clubs in a damp environment. Rust leads to metal breaking down and thus causing the shaft to eventually break. Replace the shaft immediately before injury occurs.
Steel Shaft Bends
Through the normal course of play and the rigors your set endures while traveling, steel shaft bends will occur from time to time. If this does occur, remove the club from your bag and have the shaft replaced immediately. Serious injury could result from such a defective club.
Next on your evaluation list would be the shafts. Are there any dents or rust on the steel shafts? If so, this is a sign that breakage may be imminent. Better to get the shaft(s) replaced by a professional immediately than have one break and injure someone on the course. If you play graphite shafts, look for any fraying or peeling where the shaft enters the club head. Also look for noticeable wear at any point on the shaft, particularly the shaft rests against the bag when you carry it. Your pro can let you know if the wear is excessive or if it's just cosmetic.
If you are genuinely serious about your game, a shaft frequency test is in order. Each club is placed on a frequency machine and the shaft is then vibrated. The number of times the shaft oscillates is its "cycles per minute" (cpm). Through the set of clubs there should be consistency. Any club showing a higher cpm rating than expected will play "stiffer"; one oscillating at less cpms than expected will play "softer". The frequencies of all your shafts will be compared to determine how well your clubs match not only to each other, but to your swing characteristics as well. Your repair specialist will be able to explain any shaft changes that should be made to help you play more consistent golf.
Club Head Spec Check
One of the most important checks you can perform is that of making sure your lie and loft angles are correct. If you play frequently or hit a lot of golf balls from range mats, then it's likely your lie and loft specs need adjusting. A minor change in the lie angle of any club can greatly affect the accuracy of your shot. It is recommended to have your club's specs checked preferably twice a year, but at least once a year. This check can only be done by your professional clubmaker. While you are at it you should consider having the frequency of your shafts compared to make sure they are oscillating at the cpm parameters.
As a key part of your club performance evaluation is a check of your clubs for lie and loft specifications. Having the proper lie angle for your swing is a necessity for consistent shot direction. If the lie angle is out of adjustment as little as one (1) degree, shots may stray right or left of target, even on perfect swings. Loft is equally important. There are typically three (3) to five (5) degrees of loft change between each club in a set. Say if your 5 iron loft is a bit weak and your 6 iron is a bit strong, you could, in effect, have two clubs in your set that hit the ball the same distance. Think about it for a moment ??.. does it seem like your set has such clubs?
Lies and lofts can work their way out of adjustment from hitting balls from range mats, from hitting a tree root or rock, and just through normal daily play. It's always a good idea to get you lie and loft angles checked regularly or at least once a year. This is something that you can not really do at home and it is worth the effort and small expense to have this done by a qualified professional. You will be amazed at the ease for more consistent shots by these small adjustments.
A final consideration you can do at home relates to your set make-up. Think about your game. Where do you have the most trouble? Is it from the tee? Do most of your shots tend to go to the right? If so, look to replace your current driver with one that will correct this errant shot tendency. A driver with offset or a closed face angle may help turn your slices into fairway-finding trajectories. Do you have trouble on long shots from the rough? Some of the new hybrid clubs may solve this problem for you while at the same time they may help cure you long-standing long iron problems. What about your short game? It might be time to add or update your wedges and don't forget the one club in your bag that is often overlooked, the putter. The putter being the most frequently used club in the bag, is a prime candidate to get checked over to see if it needs to be upgraded or just a simple swap out of a grip.
It is the wise golfer who checks his or her equipment regularly. Be certain that your equipment is progressively consistent and you'll be a step of the competition when you next step on the first tee. The best players in the game are constantly upgrading the performance of their equipment. Doing so yourself on a regular basis will help you do just the same!
At GCT Golf Inc., our goal is to make sure our customers are informed customers, so give us a call with any questions that you may have or even just to talk golf.
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