Grooves is the English term for the golf club face lines. These are mainly responsible for the spin that a club achieves over the ball. It is important that the ball sticks to the club face for a long time at impact to create as much friction as possible. The grooves grip the outermost shell of the ball, creating a lot of spin. That’s why balls with a soft urethane coating, for example, deliver significantly more spin than a hard range ball.
Hitting a ball out of the rough, or slightly higher turf in general (can also happen on the fairway), is often unpredictable if there’s a lot of dirt or turf between the club and the ball. Grooves help enormously to make these shots more predictable by moving water, turf and dirt away from the contact point during the swing.
In order to provide the ideal spin conditions for each club, the grooves usually adapt to the respective wedges. A gap wedge, which typically predominates in full shots, has narrower and deeper grooves that allow for slightly less spin. Too much of the backspin would not be useful for this club.
For a lob wedge – where there can never be enough spin – wide and shallower grooves are the norm. These deliver plenty of spin even on small swings, which is ideal for chips or pitches. Due to the different requirement profiles, changes in the club or groove characteristics are accordingly desirable and helpful.
Keep your club grooves clean!
After hitting a shot, you should always take the time to clean the equipment during the round, and with especial focus on the golf club grooves to keep the hitting surface in great shape. With a clean club you will achieve significantly more spin, which can only be an advantage with wedges. It’s not without reason that you see caddies on the pro tours busily rubbing the club grooves free with a towel and club brushes.
Consistency will make the difference also in the quality life of your equipment, that is why it is just as important to know how to clean them after playing too.
The trend of micro-grooves is becoming increasingly popular. Between the actual grooves, other smaller additional grooves are placed on the clubface. This only enhances the effect of gripping the cup and increases the spin. Manufacturers have different approaches to this issue. Whether fancy angles, raised grooves or shapeless grooves – there are and will be hardly any limits to creativity.
How the grooves save you strokes
Besides the thought: “Higher, faster, further”, which is admittedly very tempting, you should always but especially in the short game place more emphasis on consistency. Of course, it is fun if you let the ball roll back with a few metres of backspin just like the pros. However, it makes much more sense if each of your shots produces the same result.
Spin is good, spin helps you play around the greens. However, it is much better if you can consistently retrieve your clubs over and over again. Therefore, don’t lose focus on the essentials. Being close to the flag again and again will save you strokes. Not if the ball rolls back a few metres after it hits.
At the outset, the iron categories described below are names that have become established over the years. The golf equipment is very extensive, and the irons terms can sometimes be tricky. There are not fixed laws and many iron sets fall between the categories of golf players irons and blades. In addition, the lines demarcating each category are often blurred with each other.
Golf Players Irons
Two groups of golf irons fall under the category of Players Irons. The first is the blades, also called muscleback blades. They are very thin and sporty shaped cavity back irons. This upper category aims at the professionals and those who want to become professionals.
A classic muscleback iron delivers an extremely direct feel at impact. Better golfers need and want this kind of equipment. Furthermore, the look is much narrower, more compact. One characteristic that stands out between other variants of golf players irons and blades is that the controllability of the blades is at a maximum.
Skilled golfers thus conjure up precise draws or fades into the greens or deliberately let the balls fly higher or flatter. Due to the higher centre of gravity, the balls tend to launch flatter and have more spin. The disadvantage is the forgiveness. The centre of gravity is high and most of the weight is centred rather than distributed, and therefore the failures have disastrous consequences.
Although blades are less forgiving than cavity irons, they tend to have less offset, better turf interaction and better workability compared to cavity irons. They also force better players to be consistent in their swing, which is why they remain a favourite of tour pros.
Cavity back irons, although it sounds very bumpy, also mean “hollowed out back irons”. This makes the principle of these irons quite simple to understand. Metal is hollowed out on the back of the iron, creating a kind of cavity. The weight is much more distributed to the edges – simply not so centred on a small surface.
What is the point of all this?
Due to the distribution of the weight, the inertia as well as the forgiveness is higher. In addition, the hollowing out lowers the centre of gravity. The higher stability means that the miss results better as the the power transmission also works out better. The club twists less if the balls impacts at the heel or the toe. The lower centre of gravity leads to an easier launch of the ball.
Cavity back irons are the basis for game and game-improvement irons. The classic and very sporty cavity back irons fall under the players irons term due to their minimalist construction.
If you take a look into the bag of the pros, you will see irons with a small cavity back everywhere. Many stars also mix their iron sets with traditional blades on the short irons and cavity back irons on the long irons to take advantage of both worlds.
Players Distance Irons
A rather newer phenomenon in the golf equipment world is the Players Distance irons. In terms of look, control and feel, they come close to the classic Players irons. However, they put more emphasis in increasing the distance – hence the name. They count with technologies that often affect the hitting surface in order to increase the speed and thus the distance.
This category has grown the most in the last decade. Golfers who prefer the classic look but seek for speed support are ideally served here. The typical game-improvement irons players also look to this category because the look and feel are a little more sporty.
The Game Improvement Irons live up to their name. These clubs are designed to make you a better golfer, to improve your game. The goal of their technologies aim at increasing distance, forgiveness, consistency and feel.
Compared to the Players irons, the footprint of these irons is significantly larger. The clubface, the sole, the top line and the cavity back is one dimension more spacious. This allows the weight to be distributed quite differently in the club. A thick sole, for example, lowers the centre of gravity massively. The result of the low centre of gravity is that the balls gain height much more easily, and thus launch more steeply.
Furthermore, the principle of the cavity back helps to distribute weight to the edges to increase stability and forgiveness. Meanwhile, the use of tungsten is also common. This metal has a very high density, which is why even small amounts have a great influence on the internal weighting. This “miracle metal” belongs to almost all the club categories.
The disadvantage of game-improvement irons is often the feel and sound. That is why manufacturers are now coming up with new technologies that reduce the vibrations to improve the sound.
Super Game Improvement Irons
Super Game Improvement Irons are the next escalation level of Game Improvement Irons. Recall everything you have just read about Game Improvement irons and multiply this by a factor of X. The sole becomes wider and wider, and the centre of gravity sets even lower. The ball launch is easier and the ground absorbs a lot more the failure effects.
Other iron sets that relates to the Super Game Improvement category are the hybrid irons and the lightweight iron sets. Light-weight clubs are a perfect fit for golfers with slow swing. The weight is cut at every turn to make the clubs as light as possible. The trick is quite simple, due to the lower weight, the player can swing them faster, which leads to a larger length.
Another alternative is the hybrid iron sets. Here, there is a progressive construction within the iron set. From a distance, the long irons almost seem hybrids, while the short irons look much more compact and classic. Usually, the longer the iron, the more difficult it is to play. However, technology tries to narrow down the difficulty gap to where even the 5, 4 or 3 irons result easy to manoeuvre in the air.
Driving or Utility Irons
For the sake of completeness, let’s mention also the driving irons or utility irons. These irons replace the long irons, which are more difficult to play, and thus compete with hybrids, which is why some golfers compare both of them. As a rule, driving irons have a wider sole, a hollow construction. They are also packed with technologies that increase distance.
However, there are serious differences between the individual models of the various manufacturers. The group of utility irons is very heterogeneous. Some irons are suitable for bringing balls into play flat and then letting them roll out a lot. This shows at the British Open, as the wind and the dry fairways tempt such shots. But yet, others deliver great flight and launch the ball more steeply into the air.
“I only ever play balls that I find in the rough”, this statement sounds familiar to you or you could be behind this statement yourself? In any case, this behaviour is deadly for consistent shots. You wouldn’t play with different golf clubs every time, would you?
Play with one ball
Golf balls can be vastly different from each other. This means that consistent reproducibility of shots is impossible if you use different golf ball models over and over again. Some balls are designed for distance, some deliver more spin – with one and the same movement there is then a difference of 10 to 15 metres in the hitting distance. Therefore, it is best to choose only one golf ball.
Performance golf balls
All professionals play performance golf balls. The manufacturers pay the most for these models, but they deliver the total package of playing advantages. Spin in the short game, distance on long shots, stop function on shots into the green, long durability and pleasant feel – all combined in one golf ball.
This mixture of advantages is made possible by a multi-layer construction. This is known as 3-piece, 4-piece or even 5-piece construction. Several core and cover layers are combined under the shell to cover as many playing characteristics as possible. Performance golf balls therefore score above average in every discipline, which is why they are played by all the stars.
What also unites performance balls is the last layer, the shell. This is made of urethane, which kills several birds with one stone. The durability is increased, the feel is softer and more spin is made possible. The latter happens because the soft urethane is easier to press into the grooves of the clubs, resulting in more friction and more spin. As a rule, every golf ball manufacturer has a performance ball in its product range. Contract players then use these balls.
The one-ball rule
In almost all professional tournaments, this rule applies, which prohibits the playing of different golf ball models. For example, Martin Kaymer plays with the white 2019 TaylorMade TP5x golf ball. For the entire tournament, he is only allowed to use balls of exactly this model type. He is not allowed to use the TP5, a coloured TP5x or a TP5x golf ball from 2017. Professionals would not change balls anyway because they rely on the consistent results of their preferred ball model, but it is still prohibited.
Distance golf balls
Three guesses as to what sets Distance balls apart. The technologies used are designed to get the maximum distance out of a shot. However, this is at the expense of other game advantages, such as spin. In direct comparison to the higher-priced performance golf balls, distance balls rank in the lower price segments.
A large core serves as the motor for fast golf balls, which is why distance balls often consist of “only” two layers. This leaves more room for only the one large core. Furthermore, the spin generated is lower on all shots, so that the balls still roll out after impact. The problem with distance golf balls is the short game. There is significantly less spin delivered and the feel is harder. If distance is the most important thing for you, distance golf balls are just right for you.
To clear things up.
In summary, it can be said that Performance golf balls deliver the total package. These balls perform in every aspect of the game. Due to the multi-layer construction and the urethane shell, which is expensive to produce, the balls are more expensive than distance golf balls. The latter convince with a lower price and provide you with more length. Between the two extremes (distance and performance), there are an almost infinite number of other options on the market that offer a middle ground between the two worlds.
However, you should only trust one golf ball model to bring consistency into your game. It is up to you to decide which advantages you want and how much money you want to spend. Whether it is a low-priced distance ball, a high-end performance ball or a golf ball from the mid-range segment – the main thing is that you choose a golf ball.
When it comes to golf balls, opinions differ. While some golfers simply play the balls they find in the rough, others rely exclusively on brand new balls out of the box. The pros exemplify the latter, because completely new balls deliver the consistency and quality that are crucial in the game of millimetres.
New balls are the optimum
This much in advance: New golf balls fresh out of the box are the best in terms of quality, consistency and performance. Whether the high price justifies these characteristics for one’s own golf game is something everyone has to decide for themselves. However, if you only look at the performance, this is where you will find the best golf balls. It would be ideal if you always played the same ball model from one manufacturer. That’s what all the professionals in the world do. Coincidence? Hardly!
Lakeballs – the solution to the problem?
The main problem with lake balls is the uncertainty of how good the ball really is. It borders on a lottery whether you get good balls or they are of inferior quality. Depending on how long a golf ball has been in the water, it takes more or less damage. Here it also depends on the temperature, the substrate and the water – all factors that are impossible to determine when the balls are fished out of a pond.
After a certain amount of time, the water penetrates the golf balls, causing damage to the cover layers and/or cores. How extensive this is is anyone’s guess. Usually, lake balls are classified into different categories that are supposed to reflect the quality. However, optical parameters such as markings, shine and abrasion are emphasised here. Sometimes a distinction is also made as to whether there are cuts in the shell. What the inside of the golf ball looks like, however, is not taken into account.
When it comes to lakeballs, you can get lucky and get your hands on a high-quality or flawless ball at an unbeatable price. However, this can backfire just as badly – you simply don’t know. For those who see the price factor as the decisive criterion, this alternative is ideal if you are prepared to accept compromises in quality.
Refinished with new lacquer
Some lakeballs receive a refinish before they are sold. In the refinishing process, the ball is repainted and a new logo is applied. However, since the balls were originally intended by the manufacturers with a different paint finish, which then influences the dimple depth, refinished golf balls cannot be compared with the original golf balls. Often, the new coating is not even enough because it is applied to golf balls that have already been used.
Without wanting to offend the manufacturers of the refinished golf balls – but there are indeed some black sheep here. A name of an expensive golf ball is simply printed on cheap golf balls to suggest higher quality. For example, you buy a Pro V1x Refinished and underneath is a cheap two-piece ball. Therefore, you should always keep your eyes open or your fingers off Refinished golf balls.
Practice and X-Out balls
There are also Practice and X-Out balls. These have either small defects in the colour, the markings or the ink, so that they do not quite meet the quality standards of the ball manufacturer 100%. Sometimes there are also minor physical deviations, so that the performance is reduced, even if only very slightly. This is why they are labelled Practice or X-Out, while some manufacturers simply destroy these balls and they do not even enter circulation.
Due to the minor defects, the sales price naturally drops, which is why money can be saved here. But watch out! Not every practice or X-Out ball is officially approved and complies with the rules. For tournaments, it is therefore better to play it safe and use the “normal” golf balls. However, for practice and fun rounds as well as for training on the pitching green, these balls offer a quality alternative at lower prices.
With Practice and X-Out balls you can save money and get new golf balls in high quality that have only minimal deviations from the standard – ideal for practice rounds. With lake balls or refinished balls, you run the risk of getting poorer quality balls that could have a negative impact on your golf game, but this is where your wallet will be the happiest. If you want to invest more money, brand new golf balls are the best choice.
The golf clubs are still dirty from the last round in bad weather? The mud sticks to the clubs and the grooves are barely recognisable. In the meantime, a dusty brown tone has settled over the clubs. But how do you get your clubs clean again and what should you keep in mind? Who hasn’t experienced it when the ball on the course is full of mud, but has to be played as it lies? You get annoyed because the shot becomes a lottery.
The mud on the ball influences the ball flight immensely and this is also the case with dirty clubs. In a game where centimetres or even millimetres matter in some situations, you don’t want to leave your good scores up to fate. Spoiler alert: taking care of your golf clubs is a factor that should not be underestimated.
Household products fight dirt
To rid the clubs of simple dirt, it is often enough to go over the dirty area with a toothbrush or a simple brush. In tougher cases, where cleaning with water is no longer sufficient, a conventional household remedy can be used to help.
Dishwashing liquid not only cleans your cutlery, plates and cups at home, but also your golf clubs in the future. To do this, simply pour some dishwashing liquid into a bucket full of water. Then, just immerse the golf club in it so that the clubface is no longer visible. It is important not to immerse the hosel, as the club is glued there and the glue is not resistant to the dishwashing liquid.
In general, you should try to clean the rough dirt off your golf clubs after each use to avoid consequential damage. Also make sure that you clean the grips with a cloth. Usually, machines for cleaning clubs are not the best option from numerous experiences, as they contribute to the detachment of the glue on the golf club.
Cleaning grooves as the key to more spin?
Surely, every golfer knows that millimetres are important in golf. That’s why you should leave nothing to chance and give the ball the best possible spin by cleaning the face of your clubs. But when cleaning the grooves, you must make sure that you do not make them deeper. For instance, it can happen with conventional tools that the grooves then change in such a way that they no longer comply with the regulations.
Miracle cure for flash rust
Have you not cleaned and cared for your clubs properly over the winter? A light rust film has already formed. But you can get rid of it quickly with simple remedies. To begin with, you should try using a wet cloth, as it is possible that the rust can be removed by this means. If this is not the case, you will have to resort to harder solutions.
Pour vinegar essence into a glass and rub it over the clubface again and again so that the flash rust goes away. Many golf coaches rely on a real miracle remedy in the fight against rust on golf clubs. A little sewing machine oil is said to work wonders. By the way, the latter is also suitable as a thin protective layer for putters to prevent rusting.
Fancy a golf trip to somewhere warmer? We can forget it for the moment. Wait until mid-March? No way.
As long as we don’t have a Siberian winter and snow is covering the courses, there are absolutely no winter conditions that can stop us from hitting a few balls at the range every now and then or playing a quick 9-hole round.
With a nice warm thermos of tea -or something stronger if you must-, the right clothing and the right partner, it can be quite nice. After all, how else are we going to shift those extra pounds from Christmas?
I’ve selected a few of our favourite winter pieces that will keep you warm and dry – while still looking good. Like always, I’ll bring you the best golf apparel tips while avoiding the brands and labels that you can find in every golf shop, looking beyond the mainstream to the ever-increasing amount of emerging brands that are out there.
Rhoback – The Snow Day Q-Zip
The American brand Rhoback is a brand for clean-cut and timeless styles. They’ve got a good selection of golf clothing and accessories, but also shorts and shirts that seem more like something you’d wear at a California beach. Golf, beach life, surfing, hanging out at the pool – they seem to concentrate their image on the finer things in life. Avoiding large prints, their pieces are fine crafted and designed in a classy, stylish way. However, since we (sadly) don’t all live in the year-round California sunshine they also have pieces designed to keep you warm- without scarfing style. Take this quarter zip sweater for example, which, as they describe, doesn’t affect your swing or handshake. It’s a very nice and warm piece in a quintessentially Nordic design. Available for $ 120 on rhoback.com
Bagjack Golf – Full Zip Quilted Vest
Next up is Bagjack, a Berlin label and a big household names in messenger bags. Their design ethos is uniquely well thought-out, very technical, always lightweight and practical, just like bike couriers like it. The label is very popular in Japan, and a local golf-loving investor teamed up with them to launch Bagjack Golf to not only produce great bags, but also many accessories and practical clothing for our favorite sport- including a lot for the colder days. This padded vest not only keeps you warm, but also offers plenty of pocket depth and options. The stretch material ensures that this piece will not restrict your swing. It’s a little on the expensive side, but trust us, it’s worth every yen. Available for ¥ 43,000 via bagjack-golf.com
Almigos – Nuevo Basic Hoodie
I already introduced Almigos to you in one of our posts last year. A rather small, yet first-rate label from the Californian desert, which inspires many of their designs. Ever since Tyrrell Hatton caused an uproar when he competed in one of their hoodies on the European Tour (and won Surrey), the previously unpopular piece of etiquette-defying clothing should somehow have made it – we live in the 21st century, right? After all, even etiquette hardliners should ease their minds in the off-season, especially when it comes to such a harmless and lovable design as this one. $ 55 on almigosgolf.com
Birdies Double – Knit Golf Hat
There is however one big disadvantage of hoodies: having your hood up while you swing greatly restricts the lateral field of vision and movement. That’s why we might suggest that a classic beanie is definitely the better choice for a companion on cold days. You can’t go wrong with this minimalist piece from the relatively new small golf label from Chicago. It’s got no screaming colors or huge lettering, just a small logo patch on the side, otherwise just restrained, simple, warm and cozy. Get it now for just $15 via birdiesdouble.com
Linksoul – Revolution Gaiter
Another annoying thing about winter: the cold that creeps into your collar. Scarf? No, it’s inconvenient, dangling, often too bulky, and just plain irritating. Turtleneck? Too narrow. Remember the saying: wearing a turtleneck is like being strangled by a really weak guy all day. This neck warmer with the beautiful slogan “Make Par Not War” is the ideal solution. It’ll keep your neck toasty warm without being too tight, and if you need to visit the clubhouse’s restrooms, but you do not have your mask on hand, this one easily covers your mouth and nose. An all-round good choice, even during the pandemic. Order here for € 20 linksoul.com
Birds Of Condor – Breezy Windbreaker
And yes, it’s time to admit: I’m a Birds of Condor fan. The Australians do it best here with this lightweight, hooded windbreaker made of waterproof material comes with three pockets and bags of style. Actually, we I’d even go as far to say that it should never leave your bag- it’s always a good call when the weather suddenly changes on you and it’s too late to turn back. At just under € 70, I can say from experience that this is a bargain and that the Australian brand always delivers super fast and for reasonable shipping prices. For AUD 109.95, it’s yours. Available on birdsofcondor.com
Stitch Golf – Bonesman Umbrella
I’ve been looking for an original Arnie Palmer umbrella for a long time, but this good piece actually does a better job of showing the bad weather what you think of it. It’s also a nice piece of small, on-course rebellion opposing to the same-same and mostly bland umbrellas from more mainstream manufacturers. If this buccaneer design goes a step too far for you, you can use the classic stitch logo design. Get it for $80 at stitchgolf.com
State Apparel – Competition Pant
The next piece was originally developed for golfing below 10°C in the rain. These trousers have inside of the pockets that are made of fabric with the function of a towel. Goodbye wet hands! However, the absolute top-tier feature that makes this piece a must-have is in the leg hem. There is also a second layer of fabric underneath, on which you can wipe your clubs. Normally, nobody would ever really want to do this with their pants, even if it often seems tempting. However, since this second layer disappears under the folded trouser leg, so the mud, wet and grass don’t stick to the leg on the and when entering the clubhouse, all you have to do is simply roll down the hem to look presentable and clean. They are currently priced at $ 205, and are absolutely worth every penny stateapparel.com
Straight Down – Gunner Jacket
This brand from San Louis Obispo has been around for 30 years now, but still hasn’t made it in Europe. The Gunner Jacket is extremely light, folds up to a conveniently small size and still keeps you warm thanks to its fluffy lining. It’s available in three different colors for $ 134 at straightdown.com
Cut Made Club – Hazard Camo Windbreaker
Finally, another fresh label from Europe! Cut Made Club, a brand new label from Sweden willing to bring the street style to the fairways with clean looks just released its first collection a few weeks ago. It’s currently still a limited range, but definitely promising in appearance. In addition to fleece jackets, shirts, sweaters, long-sleeved polos, caps, bucket hats and socks to match this camouflaged windbreaker are also available. So you better watch out you don’t get lost out there of the fairway! Get it for € 101.95 at cutmade.club