The 4 best ways to clean your golf clubs

Tiger Woods cleans golf club

Club cleaning is a lost art for many golfers, but it doesn't have to be for you. Here are the best ways to wipe down your clubs.

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As you prepare for your next golf outing, there’s something your caddie wants you to know: your clubs say a lot about you. Before you ever meet the man or woman bound to your putter for the afternoon, they’ve already reviewed your group’s setup and come to a series of conclusions about how their (and your) day is about to unfold.

The ideal setup: four carry bags with a set of clean irons and wedges released in the last ten years. These groups are regular golfers who care enough about their performance to regularly invest in their equipment and its upkeep. Your caddie loves seeing these bags because your group appears to be made up of half-decent players, and good golf makes work easy.

A hodgepodge of bags filled with old, mud-caked wedges and irons? That would qualify as a “nightmare.” Whoever came up with the saying “it’s not the arrow, it’s the archer” clearly never witnessed the difference between filthy hickory sticks and sparkling, brand-new irons. And those archers who feel they can survive on a modern golf course with a setup crafted and most recently cleaned in 1940 would be wise to invest in better arrows (and perhaps a swing coach).

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While you might not want to shell out for a brand new set of sticks, every golfer can afford to improve their bag’s appearance and performance by giving their clubs a good, DEEP cleaning. All you need are a few minutes and a few tools. Trust us, your scorecard, your clubs, and (most importantly) your caddie will thank you. Here are the best ways to do so.

The “you were in a rush”

Run half of an old towel under warm water. Bring it outside. Use the wet end to clean each of the clubs in your bag and the other end to dry them.

Perks/Drawbacks: By far the fastest way to clean your clubs, but this is aesthetic-improving only. If you want to bolster performance, you’ve got to get into the grooves.

The “Dad”

Pull out the power washer. Fire that sucker up. Use your legs or hands to hold the face of the club in place. Point and fire.

Perks/Drawbacks: Your clubs will literally never be cleaner and you got to use the power washer. Perhaps save this for once or twice a season, it can’t be good for your clubface to get repeatedly blasted with pressurized water. And be careful! This is the only club-cleaning method you can reasonably injure yourself doing (as our Alan Bastable learned the hard way).

The “bare essentials”

Grab a tee, divot tool or groove sharpener. Start digging away at your clubface. Repeat with every club with grooves.

Perks/Drawbacks: You’ve done what’s necessary to score low, no need to worry about your performance tanking due to dirty clubs. The result likely won’t be aesthetically pleasing, but you’ve handled your end of the bargain.

The “Old Reliable”

A favorite of the caddie yard. Toss your clubs in a bucket filled with warm water. Snag a club-cleaning brush. Wet half a rag in the bucket and leave the other half dry.

First, dunk a club in the water, then use the wet half of the rag to wipe the hosel, face and back. Dunk it again and fashion the brush to clean out the grooves, periodically toweling to wipe away excess dirt. Then, dry using the other end of the towel and finish off by returning the club to your bag. Continue this process until every club is cleaned.

Perks/Drawbacks: This is the tried and true method of cleaning clubs, used in bag rooms, caddie yards, and by golfers around the world. It’s certainly the most time-consuming of the cleaning methods, but it yields the most consistent finish. And like everything else in golf, a little bit of elbow grease goes a long way.