One of the most common questions I get asked is how often a golfer should be replacing the clubs in their bag. Assuming it’s an iron or wedge, the answer almost surely depends on usage. If you play 20-plus times per year, chances are good you’ll need to find a suitable replacement before someone who dusts off the sticks a couple times each season.
The easiest way to determine if you need a new iron and/or wedge is to conduct a “fingernail test,” whereby you run your nail down the face of the wedge and notice if it gets caught up in each groove. If it does, your grooves are still usable. However, if your nail slides over the grooves without any resistance, it’s time to start searching for a new wedge.
Most of the time, severe groove wear is easy to spot without running your nail along the grooves, but it’s always worth doing a quick check to make sure everything is kosher. Studies have shown that a typical wedge will last roughly 65-75 rounds before you’ll see a dip in performance. For the average recreational golfer who plays regularly, that comes out to about every 24-36 months.
Simply taking note of your rounds and when the wedge was purchased should give you a good idea of when you need to start thinking about a replacement. The problem is, most golfers aren’t jotting down wedge purchases in a notebook.
If you want to keep the wedge’s “born on date” front of mind after purchase — and you don’t mind defacing a perfectly good wedge — you could follow Kevin Na’s lead and simply write the date the wedge was made directly on the head.
During a recent trip to the Tour Championship at East Lake, I spotted a Titleist Vokey K-Grind prototype wedge in Na’s bag with the date “8/2021” written in permanent marker on the head. For Na, it’s an easy way to keep track of the grooves.
Considering the amount of practice and play a lob wedge might get over the course of a season, it’s not uncommon for a pro to put in a fresh wedge every 3-6 months. (Some players prefer to keep the gap and sand wedge in for longer stretches.)
While Vokey Tour rep Aaron Dill confirmed Na is the only player he works with who writes the date directly on the head — some prefer to have Dill stamp the date — he isn’t the only Tour player who marks on the club. Lee Westwood relies on multiple Ping i210 UW wedges and needed a way to tell them apart, so he started writing down the carry yardages on each head.
Westwood has since expanded the process to writing the carry yardage for every iron and wedge on the head to simplify the process.
It might sound like a crude way to keep tabs on wedge grooves and carry yardages, but if it frees you up to worry about more important things on the course, it very well could be worth scribbling on your sticks.
Want to overhaul your own bag for 2021? Visit the expert fitters at our sister company, True Spec Golf. And for the latest gear news, check out GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast below.