I seem to get more and more questions about groove wear and replacing wedges, so let me address this topic today.
Groove integrity is key to optimizing spin from your wedges, but how do you know if your grooves are worn to the point where they cannot give you all the advantages the Rules of Golf and technology allow? Well, to start, you should know what kind of grooves your wedges have/had to begin with. If you are playing a top brand wedge that was made in the last 3-4 years, chances are it has grooves that were milled into the face with a precision cutter. Cleveland calls theirs “Zip Grooves”, Titleist “Spin Milled”, Callaway “Mac Daddy”, etc, but they all are basically CNC-milled grooves that push the USGA rules to the limit. And they deliver improved spin. If your wedges do not have any of these fancy names, they probably have the old cast-in-place grooves that will only deliver 60-80% of the spin – even when new – of the newer wedges.
But, if you’ve been playing your wedges for some time, and you practice your bunker game and short game quite a bit, you might have eroded the face and edges of the grooves to a point where you are just not getting the spin you should. Most recreational golfers will not experience significant wear for several years, but those who practice a lot sure might. Here’s a couple of ways to check to see if your grooves are worn to the point where new wedges should be getting consideration.
The best is to take a magnifying glass – a photographer’s loop is ideal – and visually inspect your grooves. Compare the grooves at the center of the face, where impact is made most often, to what they look like at the ends of the grooves, and those at the very top of the face. If you see significant wear, you probably would benefit from new wedges.
Another key is to look at the metal wear on the face of the wedge. On chrome wedges, if the bare meal is exposed, that’s another sign that you might benefit from new wedges. On “raw’ or other un-chromed wedges, lightly pass your thumb across the face, from one end of the grooves to the other and see if you can feel any depression in the middle.
A word of warning to you. There are tools out there that claim to “rejuvenate” your grooves, but you should avoid these if you care about the Rules of Golf. What these do is deepen and widen the grooves by removing metal, and it would be practically impossible to do so without violating the Rules of Golf as they apply to groove geometry. We’re talking only a few hundred of thousandths of an inch in these measures.
So, take a close look at your wedges to see if you are getting optimum spin. And for Pete’s sake, use a tee to clean dirt and grass out the grooves before you hit any shot, OK?
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An amateur was bugging Tommy Armour to teach him how to put backspin on the ball. Mr. Armour asked him, "Do you usually miss long or short?" The amateur replied, "Oh, almost always short." Tommy Armour says, "Then what in blazes do you want with backspin?"
Another interesting method to keep the grooves clean, is to use a Swiss file made "Safe" on 3 sides and ground to match groove width. Quite effective and easy to carry in a bag or hang on a rubber strap. Your "Tool Room Machinest" will know exactly what I am talking about. The other point being that wedges need to be deburred by file to remove dings from use. This is called "tender love and care" of your equipment! JWHpurist
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