A good set of golf clubs isn’t cheap. In fact, even purchasing individual clubs can leave you a little light of pocket. With this reality in mind, it’s important to use your golf equipment as long as possible in order to maximize your investment.
Do golf clubs wear out? I wish I had better news, but yes, your golf clubs will eventually wear out. This decline in performance could happen in just a few years or it could take decades.
Chalk it up to entropy in motion, but don’t let the pessimist in you win out. Try to focus on all the awesome times you and your clubs will spend together on the golf course.
How Long Do Golf Clubs Last?
There is no clear-cut answer to this question. The life of a golf club depends on a number of variables, the most important of which is how often they’re used. In other words, the avid golfer will need to purchase a new golf club more often than the player who only hits the links a few times each year.
If you don’t play very often, you can hang onto your game improvement irons for many years. However, if you fall into the avid golfer category, there are more details to consider. Golf may be a source of stress relief (most of the time), but if your clubs could speak to you about their miserable life, they would talk about the incredible amount of stress they’re subjected to. Put yourself in their shoes (golf bag?) for a moment.
Let’s pretend you have a golf swing speed of 90mph. Your clubhead is designed to withstand repeated impact of a golf ball at that speed, but even a carefully engineered club head will deteriorate over time.
Additional abuse comes from bad tempers, hosel rockets and natural elements like the weather.
To top it off, your golf club grip has to deal with your sweaty and dirty hands round after round.
You get the point — eventually the day will come when you need to head back to the golf shop for some replacements. So how can you tell when irons (and other clubs) need to be replaced?
Rule #1 – Consider How Often You Use Each Club.
As a general rule, the less a golf club is used, the longer it should last.
Statistically speaking, the less used clubs are:
- long irons
- a fairway wood
- a hybrid club
Rule # 2 – Consider How You Use Each Club.
For example, putters are one of the most commonly used clubs, but putting is a low impact activity. That means a new putter can last for quite some time. In fact, I’ve been using the same putter for almost a decade. I’ve never missed a putt with Old Faithful (blatant lie…just making sure you’re still reading).
A golf driver, on the other hand, shoulders extreme pressure with every shot. This means that they have a shorter lifespan. You may need to visit Golf Galaxy or see a club fitter after just a few years of use.
So which golf club needs to be replaced first?
The clubs that are likely to give up the ghost first are the wedges. This is true for two reasons.
- Wedges are probably the clubs you use most often (right after the driver and the putter).
- Wedges are unique clubs that rely on fine detail.
One of the most important aspects of a wedge’s design are the grooves that run along the club face. As these grooves wear down, golfers can expect a decline in performance. A groove sharpener and regularly wiping down the clubhead can prolong the life of your favorite pitching wedge / sand wedge / lob wedge, but these clubs are usually the first to go. I’m a big fan of the Birdie Buffer kit for extending club life.
Other clubs that don’t rely so heavily on such fine details simply aren’t as at risk.
Rule # 3 – Consider the Materials Used to Build Your Golf Clubs.
Frugal golfers won’t like this, but build quality matters. You often get what you pay for. Cheap golf clubs are cheap for a reason.
In most cases, the more you are invest in your golf clubs, the longer you can expect them to last.
This Wilson Ultra golf set is fantastic, especially for the price. At the same time, it’s highly unlikely that the driver in that set is going to outlast something like a TaylorMade SiM 2 Driver (which costs more than the whole Wilson package).
Am I telling you that you need to break the bank to get a good set of clubs? Nope.
I’m telling you that cheaper clubs usually have a shorter shelf life. Plan accordingly.
As you consider the materials used in your clubs, you need to recognize that some last longer than others. Take maraging steel, for example. It’s a specially hardened steel, stronger than any other material used in the game. If that’s what your clubface is made of, it’ll last longer than one made of, say, titanium.
Graphite club heads tend to wear out slightly faster than others, not because they’re weak, but because they’re lighter than metal heads, meaning you can swing them faster, and hit the ball harder.
Rule #4 – Consider How You Treat Your Clubs
The last factor that affects the lifespan of your golf clubs is how you treat them. If you care for your golf clubs and give them some TLC from time to time, you’ll improve their service life exponentially.
Don’t leave wet muddy clubs sitting in your golf bag. Clean the club heads after each use. Wipe down your club grips. Store your clubs in an environment where they won’t get too cold or too hot.
All of these minor adjustments can help you extend the life of your clubs.
How Do Golf Clubs Wear Out?
Golf clubs are made up of three distinct sections: the grip, the shaft, and the head. Each one of these structural elements will exhibit wear and tear eventually, albeit, in different ways and at different times.
The club head deals with high velocity impact, so this section of the club is bound to degrade the fastest, but the grip and shaft take their fair share of abuse as well.
It takes an enormous amount of strength and flexibility for a steel shaft or a graphite shaft to do its job. The constant friction between your gloves and golf grips can take a toll as well.
Don’t forget the sun, rain and other elements — they can do more harm than you realize.
Drivers produce and weather the most force of all the clubs, so it’s common for them to develop issues quickly, comparatively speaking.
In addition to the regular wear and tear, I’ve watched plenty of golfers smash their driver against the ground after a bad tee shot. This won’t extend a golf driver’s shelf life.
Driver head blemishing is the most common form of driver wear, and it can lead to inconsistent ball flight in terms of both distance and direction. Regularly inspect the club face and the shaft to make sure the club is still offering you the proper launch angle and best potential for distance.
Much like drivers, irons bear the brunt of a lot of force, especially down at the range. Each impact eventually grinds away the grooves on the head face, making it harder to put spin on the ball. Not to worry, though. You can fix them back up in no time with a groove sharpener.
If the symptoms you’re experiencing include excess lift, the chances are the problem lies with the shaft rather than the head.
Used exclusively for gentle strokes, putters are the least at risk; however, as the most used club, the face still deals with a lot of stress, and it’s not unheard of for them to wear or even crack.
Keep an eye on your putter for any obvious signs of damage.
So Do Golf Clubs Wear Out?
It’s an unfortunate truth that golf clubs do wear out, but if you take proper care of them, you can easily extend their life beyond just a few years.
Ultimately, the wearing out of your clubs is a positive, as it shows you put those clubs to good use. The money you invested in a new golf iron is never completely lost (especially if you win a few golf bets along the way).