Want to drop a few shots? It might be as simple as proper golf club maintenance

ST. GEORGE — Golfers follow a simple credo: Drive for show, putt for dough.

A golf foursome at Southgate Golf Club prepares to putt, April 6, 2022 | Photo by Vin Cappiello, St. George News

But those who don’t take care of their equipment likely will enjoy neither.

From beginners to weekend warriors and from amateurs to pros, the proper selection, cleaning and care of golf clubs are essential facets of the game. And it could mean the difference between keeping the ball in the fairway or driving it into the rough.

“Something that’s simple that goes without being done is just cleaning your clubs,” says Tyler Dalton, assistant golf pro at Southgate Golf Club in St. George. “I don’t think enough people have a wet golf towel when they go play. A wet towel makes it easier to clean out the grooves.”

While a putter doesn’t take the same beating as irons, drivers and hybrids, it still requires a proper wipe-down. Greens feature closely cropped grass often peppered with fertilizer, which easily transfers to this essential piece of equipment. Regardless of whether a shot is picture perfect or a “chunk” or “duff,” grass clippings and dirt or sand from fairways, roughs and bunkers will adhere to the clubface.

This can become problematic if it’s not addressed — immediately.

“The grooves on the club are there to create lift on the golf ball and spin on the golf ball,” said Dalton, who shot a 59 on the par-71 Southgate course a few years ago. “Without those being cleaned out, by using a wet towel and possibly a wire brush to remove the dirt, sand, rocks or mud that are in there, the golf club is not going to perform the way it’s designed to perform.”

Richard Reeder of Washington City says oversized clubheads and graphite shafts are two major changes he’s witnessed while playing golf for nearly 40 years, April 7, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Kelly Reeder, St. George News

Richard Reeder of Washington City has been golfing for nearly 40 years. He said he hits the links up to four times per week and echoed Dalton’s sentiments when it comes to club maintenance.

“It’s important to have the grooves in your clubface clean because clogged grooves can inhibit distance and do not allow you to have spin on your shots,” said Reeder, who sports personal best golf scores of 29 for nine holes and 64 for 18 holes. “It can also create issues with controlling direction, causing an unforeseen hook or slice”

According to the U.S. Golf Association, official rules governing golf equipment first were established in 1909 with the determination that golf clubs should “consist of a plain shaft and a head which does not contain any mechanical contrivance, such as springs.” Two years later, a “conformity” rule took shape, and included in this decision was the following, concerning golf club design: “The head of the golf club shall be so constructed that the length of the head from the back of the heel to the toe shall be greater than the breadth from the face to the back of the head.”

By 1931, the USGA decided “concavity in the clubface is no longer permitted … club faces shall not embody any degree of concavity or more than one angle of loft.”

Wooden club heads first are mentioned in the USGA rules in 1932, and by 1938, the “14-club rule” was introduced, setting 14 as the maximum number of clubs one player may utilize during a standard round of golf. Few significant changes governing club design transpired until 1964, when the USGA provided clear definitions of iron, wood and putter.

“There’s so much science, so much technology in a golf club that people don’t realize it’s not just a flat-faced club,” Dalton said.

In fact, the USGA timeline reveals 1992 as the year inserts were permitted on the back of the clubhead, and for the last 30 years, rules have continued to develop involving spring, groove and angle.

Regardless of skill level, Dalton said golfers should base their club and general equipment selections on a couple of very simple considerations.

“I don’t think you have to go out and buy a thousand-dollar set of clubs,” he said. “Depending on the level you’re at, you’re going to find the price point that fits you. But every aspect is going to have an effect on your golf game.

Southgate Golf Club Assistant Pro Travis Dalton demonstrates the proper golf club cleaning technique, which involves a wet rag and sometimes a scrub brush, April 6, 2022 | Photo by Vin Cappiello, St. George News

“If you’re going to play multiple times a week, put the time in, do some research, get a custom fit at one of our local shops … If you play once or twice a year, a set that you picked up from a yard sale or from Grandma and Grandpa’s is probably going to be fine.”

Reeder said he has witnessed significant changes in the game and the designs of equipment, all of which have an impact on accuracy and length.

“The use of different materials in clubs is the most significant change,” he said. “I started out with real wooden fairway woods. Through the years, I have used graphite shafts because they are easier on my bad shoulder than iron shafts.

“The large head drivers have been a huge benefit. They are more forgiving and provide more distance off the tee than traditional size heads. The use of titanium and other materials has improved many golfers’ shots and scores.”

Proper footwear also is essential, Dalton said. Because many golfers are producing a tremendous amount of force, especially off the tee or out of the rough, they must have a secure and reliable base.

“There’s a reason golfers are wearing golf shoes; it’s about the grip or the tread on the bottom of the shoe,” Dalton said. “The trend in today’s market is going away from what is considered a spike or a hard spike to more of a soft spike shoe or even just a harder-soled ‘grippy’ bottom.”

Personalizing equipment is accomplished in several ways, from monogrammed golf bags and club covers to shirts adorned with corporate logos and hats that advertise favored brands.

Dalton said there’s one other simple yet fun part of equipment choice that some golfers take rather seriously.

“Having a ball marker is important,” said Dalton, who uses six quarters that represent his parents, wife and children. “Anything that makes you have good mojo is a good thing in golf.”

Additionally, golf bag must-haves, especially as the temperatures rise in Southern Utah, include sunscreen, a hat and water. Dalton said he applies sunscreen before he heads out to the course, and if he must re-apply during a round, he uses a spray instead of lotion so his golf grip isn’t adversely impacted.

And as far as weather conditions changing suddenly, Dalton reminds golfers to “use your best judgment.” The old joke about raising a golf club in the air as a sort of lightning rod isn’t a good idea.

“A golf club is a conductor,” he said. “Err on the side of caution.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!