Originally posted on: TheSandTrap.com
Written by Donald MacKenzie
Like it or not, Old Man Winter is next on the tee for us Northern golfers. Here’s some help for getting your clubs ready for the off-season or their travels south.
That’s right, those of us in the North are coming to the realization that the golf season is either fading fast or already gone. But before your forced hibernation begins, be sure you show your clubs some love so they’re ready when Mother Nature is in the spring.
Clean Up Your Act
Start your club winterization with a thorough cleaning of your clubs.
Start with a bucket of warm, soapy water, a toothbrush, a washcloth and a couple towels.
I like to stand all my woods and irons up in the bucket for a few minutes to loosen up any grit and grime that might have collected over the course of the season.
If you’re one of those guys (or gals) who can’t be bothered to clean your clubs during the season, you’ll definitely want to soak your set for several minutes to soften up the year’s worth of dirt and grass that’s caked on your clubs.
But be sure the water is not so deep as the ferrules of the clubs (the part where the shaft meets the head) are underwater. In some cases, this can lead to water getting inside the shaft or head, which may cause rust or other problems.
Then it’s time to get clean. Use the toothbrush to get the grooves of all of your irons and wedges completely free of any debris. And if you have irons with an undercut cavity-back design, be sure to get the dirt out from that area of each club (you might need a few Q-tips for this).
Use the washcloth to give your woods and hybrids an all-over cleaning, taking care to get the soles completely spotless. Now’s a good time to take one of your towels and get it wet and soapy.
Use this towel to clean all the shaft and grip of each club. Washing your grips is a good way to restore their tackiness and help them last longer. If your grips look worn or still feel slick after a good washing, this is a good time to to start looking for new grips. And if you have corded grips, you can freshen them up with a light scuffing with some fine-grit sandpaper.
When you’re done washing and wiping down your clubs, take your second towel and dry each club completely.
Be sure to take a second at this point to
a) Behold the beauty of a clean set of clubs;
and b) Weep openly about the end of golf season.
Handle with Care
Some clubs need more love than other. If you have forged irons and wedges or a carbon steel putter, check for signs of rust. If you find any, you can usually get it out with a wire brush or a Scotchbrite pad.
To help prevent rusting over the winter, wipe these clubs down with a soft cloth and some WD-40 or some other silicon-based lubricant. If you have one of these precious putters, you can wrap this cloth around the putter head and put your head cover on over top of it.
If you have rusty wedges (like me), you don’t have to do anything special other than cleaning the grooves. But be sure that your rusty wedges aren’t nestled right up against your other non-rusty clubs. Because rust never sleeps, and it will happily go to work on the clubs next to your wedges if you give it a chance.
I throw an old towel over my rusty wedges to keep a buffer zone between them and the non-oxidized clubs in my bag during the winter.
Time for a Tune-Up?
While you’re cleaning your clubs, take note of any repairs that might need to be made before the start of next season. Any rattles in your woods or hybrids? Bent steel shafts? Irons or wedges that seem out of whack? Grips that need changing? Now is the time to take care of things like this. Why have your clubs in the shop for fixing when the weather’s good?
Take advantage of your downtime to have your repairs done. If you play forged irons or wedges, or if you practice a lot on hard mats, it’s a good idea to have your clubs checked for the proper loft and lie by a reputable clubmaker.
The soft carbon steel of these clubs can bend a bit over time, and the same can happen to harder stainless steel irons and wedges if you hit a lot of balls off the artificial turf (especially the kind with the tendinitis-inducing concrete underneath).
This can throw off the loft and lie of your clubs, which can have a big effect on ball flight and distance. A good clubmaker will bend your clubs back into spec, which can save you several strokes next season.
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
Once your clubs are clean, there’s not much left to do. I also like to clean out my golf bag and take inventory of all my balls, tees and gloves. I’ll also take a few minutes to wipe down my shoes, change out the cleats and put in shoe trees to keep them in shape.
Then, I make sure my clubs are in a warm, dry place. Don’t keep your clubs in the garage unless it’s heated, and don’t put them in your basement if you live someplace swampy. Find a spot where the temperature will stay above 60° with relatively low humidity and tuck them in for the winter.
But be sure this resting place isn’t too hard to get to. I know I pull out my clubs at least once a week for a little off-season bonding, plus some chipping and putting on the basement carpet. Hey, just because you can’t play golf outside doesn’t mean you have to go cold turkey. Plus, I’m sure quite a few of you already have your travel itineraries booked for that south-of-the-border trip planned this winter.