Have you looked at the clubs in your bag and suddenly realized you have held onto some for longer than it’s possible to remember? This is surprisingly more common than people realize, and it does make you think about the lifetime of a golf club.
Now, when talking about the lifespan of a golf club, it’s important to mention that clubs do not come with a lifetime guarantee that they will always work in the same way as when they were new. This is disappointing, but it does mean you need to understand how long a club will typically last.
So, what we will do is look at the different clubs you will have in your bag and tell you how long you should expect to play with them before a change is ultimately required.
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But Why Do They ‘Expire’?
You may wonder why golf clubs can effectively expire or no longer work as effectively as before.
Basically, this is all about wear and tear on a club. Also, the rate at which a club becomes tired varies as we use some clubs more often than others.
However, on the plus side, the rate at which clubs become tired and no longer as effective has slowed. This is due to the different brands using better materials when constructing their clubs.
In previous decades, it was often expected that you could effectively burn through clubs even when simply a regular player. This was simply because the club was not made of the same stern material as it is today.
But all that has changed. However, don’t think it means clubs don’t get to a point where they no longer work to the same extent. That’s certainly not the case.
We won’t talk you through which club should expire first because it does depend on your game and the types of shots you play. So, let’s take it club by club.
A good driver should comfortably last for five years before you think about exchanging it for something new. However, this is if you are really noted as playing an average amount of golf, which tends to equate to anywhere from 30 to 40 rounds a year.
If you play more than this, and also hit the range a couple of times a week, then you should replace your driver after three to five years.
With the driver, it may become obvious when things need changed. You quickly become accustomed to the type of shot your driver produces on a consistent basis. You understand the height, distance, and connection.
If you notice you can no longer produce the same type of drive, then it may mean you need to replace the club. This becomes even more apparent when the rest of your clubs are still producing the shots you expect. If it’s not you, then it is the driver.
A driver can lose some of its pop as it ages and becomes worn down. The thin face of the modern driver is really designed to act like a springboard for the ball. The more you use it, the less spring it achieves, and that’s when your distance drops.
Also, pay close attention to the face. It can effectively cave in to a certain extent, and that is what causes it to lose its spring.
Moving onto the woods now, and this is where things do get harder. The problem is different places recommend you change woods anywhere from between two and seven years after purchase, and that’s a considerable time span.
So, this means the average is somewhere around five years, but it still depends on how many rounds you play across a single year.
As with the driver, you may notice a change in distance and trajectory with the shot. If this only happens with a certain wood, then it’s losing some of its impact.
It’s also important to realize it ’s not always the face of a wood that becomes worn. There’s a tendency for the shaft to become worn due to the impact and transfer of energy. A worn shaft has just as big an impact on the quality of your shot than a damaged face.
In fact, it’s the shaft that will often cause most problems.
The pressure that’s applied to the shaft throughout the shot makes a huge difference. It can often become a weak point, and when you then add in potential damage to the face, your shots can go wayward.
Part of the problem with woods is you use them more than a driver. When using a wood off the fairway, it changes the angle at which you strike the ball compared to on the tee.
This changes the location of the pressure on the face and shaft of the wood. Hitting from the fairway leads to a vast amount of force on the club and, over time, this leads to it becoming damaged and worn.
Ideally, you should check your woods on a regular basis once you get to around the 100 rounds mark. Pay close attention to your shots and whether you have any noticeable change in key areas.
If this is the case, then replacing them one wood at a time may result in significant improvements to your game.
Irons have a tendency to last longer on average than woods or the driver. The main issue is the grooves on the face of the club will gradually wear down.
However, as the clubs are generally manufactured from stronger material, this is something that takes longer to occur.
Your irons should comfortably last 10 years if you play 30 rounds a year on average. This is also due to the way in which you use them more infrequently than other clubs.
As you can easily use various irons in a single round, the wear on them is actually spread more evenly across the set. This cannot happen with the driver where you only have one and, once again, we have the issue of materials coming into play.
The reduction in the size of the grooves also means less spin is then produced in the shot.
This reduction in spin has an impact on how the ball will react when it hits the green. You lose control over the shot, so you are no longer able to kill the ball dead or include backspin to bring it closer to the pin.
Watch out for your iron shots into the green bouncing through and out the back-end without stopping. That’s a surefire sign something is wrong with your clubs if it happens on a regular basis.
With irons, the shafts of your clubs are less likely to become worn. However, inferior clubs may have weaker joints, so energy can move along and gradually weaken the joint. That does take some time to happen, so it’s not a concern for most players.
Finally, another key point with irons.
Those irons that come with a steel shaft will last longer than a graphite shaft. The graphite shaft can develop cracks and splits quicker than steel can wear down. So, this may have an impact on your decision as to the type of golf irons you initially want to purchase.
Hybrid clubs have seen an increase in their popularity, so it’s worth adding them into this equation.
As they cover way more bases than woods or irons on their own, it does change when you should consider replacing them. On average, it sits around four to six years for the average player.
The wear on these clubs does fall in between what you would expect from a wood and an iron. The face can take something of a battering over time, so the grooves won’t work as well as they should leading to poorer shots.
It’s no surprise a hybrid club should last around ten years before you need to change it. This means it fits in closer to the life expectancy of an iron rather than a wood, but it always depends on how often you pull the hybrid out of your bag.
While brands manufacture wedges from the same materials as irons, we like to change our wedges more often than the irons.
This is all due to those ridges and grooves on the face. You rely on them so much with the wedge to not only get the height on the ball, but also provide you with a certain level of control over your shot.
That means you need those ridges to remain in pristine condition. Over time, they wear down leading to a flatter impact, and your shots will no longer have the same precision.
Also, the club will not have the same touch to the shot. It will struggle to get the ball up off the ground in as crisp a manner as it used to. Your chip becomes flat. You find it harder to get out of the sand trap as the connection and grip is simply not there.
The same applies to in the rough or in your approach to the green.
A pitching or gap wedge into the green allows you to control your shot. When those grooves are eventually worn out, your ability to judge where the ball will land, and what happens after it, simply vanishes.
If you see your pitches into the green running through, there’s a good chance it’s because your wedge is past its best.
What all this means with a wedge is the need to change the club after between 75 and 100 rounds. This sounds a lot, but it’s all because of the way in which the club is generally used.
But if you spend a considerable amount of time using your wedge in practice, then this number will fall as a result.
Also, replacing your wedge is not always expensive. You can pick up a quality wedge for next to nothing, but it’s worth a whole lot when it comes to helping your game.
Finally, what about the putter?
You must remember the putter is only used for a soft, slow stroke. That puts less stress on the face of the putter as the lower energy makes it harder for the face of the putter to become damaged or worn down.
Your putter may have a soft insert, and this does wear down over time. It also has the potential to crack, and this affects your shot.
However, a golf putter, and this applies even to a standard putter, should last for anywhere from 15 to 20 years without running into problems. Why do you think we have a market for age-old putters and people willing to pay a fortune for them?
It’s because they just do not wear out.
The key to extending the lifespan of your putter is to take care of it. Keep that cover on at all times as that does make a difference. Remember, technology in a putter rarely changes, so as long as it feels good in your hand, then you can keep on using it.
We have a final potential sign that all is not well with your clubs, and it’s connected to your playing partners.
If you notice they have started to drive longer than you, or hit consistent shots, and they have not changed their equipment, then it may point to a problem with your clubs.
Technology does change in clubs. A driver can add 20 yards onto a shot with it being new and incorporating the latest innovations. If you feel left behind, then take a close look at your equipment. It may give you the answer as to what has happened to your game.
Your golf clubs will, at some point, need replaced. This won’t happen overnight, but after a couple of years you should examine the face of each club on a semi-regular basis.
Do remember it’s not only the face that can become worn. Grips need replacing on a regular basis. Check the shaft for damage and any splits.
Your game will suffer if your clubs become old and tired. If struggling, why would you make life harder for yourself simply by using inefficient equipment?