How To Clean Your Golf Clubs (And Have Them Stay Clean)

Golf expert David Freeston explains how to clean your golf clubs on and off the course to keep them in top-performing condition at all times.

Photo by Al Lea
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Cleaning your golf clubs is one of the most overlooked aspects of golf that can actually lead to more solid ball striking and stroke saving. Even the smallest amount of dirt or grime on your golf clubs can affect everything from ball contact, to shot shape, to spin, and even distance (which no one likes losing). In this article, I’m going to point out some helpful club care tips for on the course and off the course to help keep your golf equipment pristine at all times and in top performing condition.

On the Course

About 15 minutes before your round, do a quick once-over. If you see any clumps of dirt in the heads of your irons, take a tee and slide the sharp end throughout the grooves of the clubface (or use a club brush if you have one). You’ll see many golfers - from the amateur to the professional golfer - dip a soft towel in hot water (check near the first tee or ask a cart attendant, there is almost always one handy). Take that towel, get it nice and soaked, and do a brief wipe down of the club heads. You’re good to go from there.

The absolute most important time to clean your clubs is after every single shot. Keep that wet towel draped over your bag. Right after each shot, take a look at the club and get every speck of dirt off that you can in about a second or two as to not hold up play. You’ll see every single PGA tour caddie do this on TV, so since you’re likely carrying or riding with your own clubs, you get to do it now!

If you find yourself in a frustrating bunker, hit the club against the back heel of your shoe, so that the larger grains of sand fly off. This will help minimize the amount of sand that gets on your towel when you clean the club post shot (a sandy towel could inadvertently transfer dirt TO your other clubs and we do not want that). After every couple of shots, take the towel and give the grip of your club a quick rub, to get off any sweat and moisture that may build up and cause the club to slip, especially on a hot or drizzly day. Us golfers play rain or shine!

A golf ball sitting half-submerged in a sand pit.
Photo by Steven Shircliff

When it comes to golf balls, before each shot, I clean the ball as well (as ball machines are only on tee boxes). Dirt on the ball can have the same effect as dirt on the clubface, affecting everything your ball is doing. This is MOST important before putting; if the ball bounces because of residue left on it, it surely will miss the hole even on a good putt! You’ll see every PGA tour player do this as well.

Off the Course

After your round, the cart attendant will come ask if you would like a club clean. Always say yes even if you are in a rush. It only takes a minute and will save you time as well. Now when you get home, especially if you are playing a lot of golf, take every single club out of your bag, run the tee or brush thoroughly through the grooves again and soak them overnight in a big, plastic bucket of hot, soapy, clean water (preferably dish soap) like you would a saute pan. This will loosen any tiny bits of gunk that may have been too stuck on to get removed by a quick towel rub

Two golf clubs sticking out of a dark green watering can.
A watering can also works if you don’t have a bucket! Photo by David Freeston

For the final step, once a week, I would definitely recommend using any brand of golf solvent or dremel for extra shine. You don’t want to do this TOO often as long-term use of chemicals can affect the clubs’ finish, but once in a while it’s definitely a great move.

Note that soaking clubs will not cause them to rust or stain. Certain chemicals, however, may have this impact, so if you buy a cleaning chemical for your clubs, be sure the packaging indicates that the product is indeed intended for golf clubs.

And there you have it! A quick little guide to making sure your clubs stay in tip top shape. Implementing a good cleaning process might seem unnecessary and a bit of extra work, but trust me, having a clean set of clubs easily saves at least five or more strokes off every single round of golf. And hey, if you have a bad shot, it’s one less thing to blame! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me through my Curated profile to chat with me directly. See you on the course!

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I grew up in Connecticut, playing golf for most of my life. It wasn’t until I was 10 years old that I hit that “perfect shot” and I said to myself, “That felt amazing, I can’t wait to do that again”. From there, my obsession only grew. Once I entered high school, I got a job at our local course, New...

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