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When are your grooves worn out?



Have you ever heard an announcer during a golf telecast talk about how PGA Tour players “control their spin?” If you’re like me, you probably thought to yourself, “I wish I actually had some spin to control.”

It’s frustrating to hit what looks like a good pitch shot only to see it bound past the pin and off the back of the green. But if you’ve been using the same wedge for awhile, there might be an easy fix to get more grab on your greens, because having sharp grooves in your wedges gives you the best chance at creating the spin you want inside the 100-yard scoring zone.

Before you run to the store, let’s discuss how wedges actually create spin. From there, we can determine if your lack of spin is actually an equipment problem.

How wedges create spin

At impact, the grooves are responsible for biting into the cover of the golf ball. The downward strike on the ball, coupled with the sharp grooves, traps the ball against the ground and creates backspin.

Over time, the lower grooves will start to wear out and eventually will not catch the ball as sharply. The dulling grooves allow the ball to roll up the face just slightly before catching some of the higher grooves. When the ball rolls up the face, spin is lost because friction is lost.

Creating spin is not done by the grooves alone, however. Spin is a function of the golf club as a whole. Research is finding more and more that spin also has a lot to do with the roughness of the face of the wedge. Pick up a new Cleveland wedge and look closely at the new Rotex milled face of the club. The laser milled pattern you see between the grooves creates miniature grooves on the face and increases the “grab” factor at impact, especially on less than full shots.

To research the difference between new and two-year-old grooves, I hit identical 56 degree Titleist Vokey wedges on a launch monitor using Titleist ProV1s. All the shots I charted were 90 to 110 yards. The wedge that I had in my bag for two years spun an average of 9000 rpms; enough to keep the ball within three or four yards on average of where it landed, never spinning back.

When I switched to the new Vokey, I instantly noticed the difference. The feel and sound was completely different. I heard the sharp groves catching the ball on the bottom few grooves, and I felt the ball staying on the lower grooves. Looking at the ball, I noticed the difference as the new wedge bit into the ball and scuffed the cover. The new wedge spun an average of 12,000 rpms and pulled back on the majority of shots.
Grant Shafranski Wedge Artwork 3
(Graph from TaylorMade about its XFT wedges with interchangable faces)

What kind of a difference can these numbers make during a round? Let’s say you’re 90 yards away from a front pin that is tucked behind a bunker and your ball lands just three yards beyond the pin. With old grooves, your ball will most likely stop around seven feet beyond where it lands, leaving you with a 15 to 20 foot putt. With new grooves, that same shot will have a chance at stopping where it lands, if not spinning back towards the hole, leaving you inside of 10 feet and a very makeable putt.

One solution to bringing back some sharpness to grooves that have worn down is to purchase a groove sharpening tool. You can buy these tools at any local golf retailer, but you need to be careful about a few things. While the sharpening tools do give a little bite back to an old wedge, they do not come close to the sharpness of new grooves. When I tested an old wedge after groove sharpening, it averaged about 10,500 rpms on 100-yard shots.

It is worth noting that a groove sharpener works by grinding out some of the metal on the club face. The rules of golf state that grooves must be no more than 0.035 inches wide, 0.020 inches deep and 0.075 inches from any adjacent grooves. If you play competitively, using a groove sharpener could make your clubs non-conforming and illegal for competition. In fact, Titleist’s Vokey Wedgeworks shops will not resharpen grooves because the margin is so thin between conforming and non-conforming.

The sole of the wedge can also determine if it is time to replace the club. When you buy a new wedge, the sole of the wedge has a specific grind to it that hopefully fits your swing and the turf conditions you typically play on. Vokey alone offers 11 different sole grinds on their SM4 wedges. Over time, the sole wears down to fit your individual swing print. As the grind changes, so does the performance of the club. Tiger has said he will change his 60-degree wedge about four times per year because of how much he practices.

New Wedge Face Wedge Face OLD

New grooves (left) versus worn out grooves (right)

The Takeaway

The best way to know whether to replace your wedges is to practice with them. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, as using your wedges will only wear down the grooves, it is a great opportunity to get a good feel for how much life is left in them. When you are practicing, take note of your ball flight. Does it come out low with a lot of spin, or does it launch high with little spin?

If you are practicing on grass, hit a few shots with some grass built up in the grooves. Try to feel the ball rolling up the face of the club before being caught by some of the higher grooves. These shots will typical launch high with little spin, and seem to fall out of the sky. After you have felt what a shot feels like with less spin, give your wedges a good cleaning and notice the difference as your next shots come out slightly lower, but with much more spin.

Eventually, your wedges will wear down to the point where it feels like there is grass built up in your grooves even after you have cleaned them. This is when it is time to replace your wedges. To test if your wedges are already at that point, check with your local golf shop to see if they have any wedges available for demo. Take the wedge to the range and try it against your current wedges, or schedule a fitting with a PGA professional who can help you determine if your wedge is worn down enough to be replaced.

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Grant Shafranski is the Program Director for the First Tee of Minneapolis and Head Teaching Professional at Hiawatha Golf Club in Minneapolis, MN. He is a Level 2 PGA Apprentice following a successful amateur career where he played collegiately at Division III University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN).



  1. Dan H

    Jan 12, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Here’s a video with a study on it comparing a new wedge to a one year old wedge using Trackman numbers:

  2. K

    Aug 3, 2016 at 3:52 am

    “The downward strike on the ball, coupled with the sharp grooves, traps the ball against the ground and creates backspin.”

    This is ridiculous. When a golf ball is struck it does NOT compress into the ground and then shoot up. The only time that happens is when you completely top it. The face is pointing up, therefore the ball must go up. Please take this article off this site. It’s embarrassing.

    • Brent Tharp

      Oct 4, 2021 at 10:46 pm

      I know this post is old, but it’s always good to hear from those who don’t understand the physics of golf.

  3. Jeff Black

    Jan 7, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I Sandblast the face of my wedges

  4. Pingback: Sharpening Your Golf Club Grooves Is a Must! - The Womens Tour

  5. Servost

    Nov 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Is there any downside of practicing on the range with your worn out wedges and using your new ones when actually playing. For evry sand wedge I hit during a round, I bet I hit 100 on the range.

  6. kr

    Oct 22, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Very few PGA professionals are qualified to qualified to judge the condition of your clubs….do yourselves a favor and find a qualified club fitting professional!

  7. Brodie Pendleton PGA

    Jun 11, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Howdy to all,

    I received my groove sharpener about 2 months ago. Works real well on my Miz irons and wedges. Takes about 15 mins for a thorough regroove.

    Noticed a real difference in stopping power.

    I got mine from the friendly folks at

    The 3 blades really speeds thing up 🙂

    So long folks – Brodie

  8. Kent T. Depuydt

    Mar 22, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I have several original Cleveland 588 Tour Action wedges bought in the late 90’s and still use them. Each spring I spend some time with a carbide groove tool, but I also have a nice flat file I use to (carefully) flatten the face of the blade. Combined with the groove tool I can get the edges of the grooves incredibly sharp. I refinish the heads with some gun bluing (They are all RTG raw tour grind wedges.) They come out looking like new and performing like new too.
    BTW – cut the knob end off an old golf grip and slip it over the end of the tool to make a cushion. You can really dig down with the tool and it is easier on the hand too! K.

    • AJ Jensen

      Oct 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Great tip on using a grip on the tool handle. My hands get sore after just one club. I have a set of old Ping Eye 2’s that I absolutely love, so I had got in the habit of grooving one club per day over the winter. With your grip handle idea I could easily do the set in one evening

  9. Tyler Sandford III

    Mar 20, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Aloha folks,

    Really good article this Grant – thanks for coming up with it 🙂

    I was sceptical about sharpener tools for a long while, but recently relented and bought 1 after a particularly frustrating round.

    I bought a triple blade tool from what I am guessing to be a parent company of the 1 listed above.

    Well to coin a well known phrase I was “freaking delighted” with the improved performance around the greens that I saw in my game.

    The tool arrived in about 7 days to my place in Hawaii – and regrooving is something I will do frequently from now on.

    Thought I would give a shout out to the site I bought mine from because the cust serv was excellent as well – it was shipped with online tracking which was a nice touch 🙂

    So here is the link guys:

  10. Spine Finder

    Mar 19, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Hi y’all,

    I got a hold of a slightly different groove sharpener, but it works pretty darn good.

    Saved my Spin Doctor & Mizuno Wedges.

    My missus was real happy coz the money I saved got spent on her LOL.

    Just waiting for this darn snow to clear so I can get back out on the course again.

    Hope the above helps y’all.

  11. Golf Grip Mate Airtool MK 2

    Mar 15, 2013 at 5:14 am

    My goodness,

    Never throw your favourite irons/wedges out. All you need is a groove sharpener to revitalise your grooves.

    I agree with R. Prince above – the best groove sharpener is the 1 from the Golf Groover folks – that’s where I got mine from anways.

    Here is the link for those that are interested:

    PS: Good to see Tiger back putting the way he used to – can’t wait for all the head to heads between him and Rory this season.

  12. Rodney Prince

    Mar 15, 2013 at 1:24 am

    I bought a groove sharpener from two years ago works great for me, still using my old favorite vokeys.

  13. Ryan Tracy

    Mar 14, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Is there a particular groove sharpener that you would recommend? Also, how many times can you resharpen your grooves before the wedge starts to lose consistency and the accuracy of the grooves?

    • Jeff

      Mar 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Most groove sharpeners on the market will do the job and like anything else they will also wear down, but spending 25-30$ on the tool or $100+ on a new wedge makes a lot of sense. has a good product and I have done about 10 clubs with one tool no problem. It’s longer than most so it’s comfortable to use and comes with a carry case so it wont rip your bag.

      • Ryan Tracy

        Apr 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm

        Thanks for the info Jeff! I’ll have to look into it.

  14. kloyd0306

    Mar 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Studies and tests have shown that in very dry conditions, a wedge with NO grooves actually creates MORE spin than one WITH grooves.

    The real purpose of grooves is to displace moisture and the USGA’s own testing proves as much. Grass contains a good deal of moisture.

    Grant’s “research” clearly did not include talking to the USGA and it’s findings.

    • Straightdriver235

      Dec 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

      I’m reading this much later, but find this interesting. I have a Ram Tom Watson lob wedge, based on the model he chipped in with at 17 on Pebble. No other wedge–and I’ve been through about 15–matches it for looks and feel, but true it spins less than it might. I keep it and my love for it grows over the years because I can land it where I want to better than other wedge. I am going to pay attention to how well it works then when no grass gets in the way, or the conditions are dry compared to moister more lush grass to see if this is so. If what you say is true it also indicates that we may not hit the ball as precisely as we think, if you have a clean lie, what is grass doing getting into the grooves?

  15. Todd

    Mar 12, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Which is better, non conforming worn grooves, or fresh conforming grooves? My instinct tells me the non comforting grooves win, even if a bit dull. Thoughts?

  16. Rufiolegacy

    Mar 12, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    interesting read! Makes me think I should get into new wedges!

  17. Marc Kilgore

    Mar 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    There must be something useful we can do with these old wedges that get worn out. It seems like a waste to just throw them away, and even worse to rip off some unsuspecting person by selling them a wedge that is worn out. Seems like we should be able to recycle these or something.

    • Grant Shafranski

      Mar 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      A great thought, and thank you for commenting! I absolutely agree that it seems like a waste, but please consider donating your used clubs to The First Tee. They are always taking donations, and will make great use out of used clubs!

    • Potomac Golfer

      Mar 13, 2013 at 9:46 am

      One thought — consider DONATING old wedges to your local First Tee program — they always need equipment, and most of us can afford to sacrifice the $25 trade value of an old wedge.

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Driver, shaft combinations of strokes gained: off-the-tee leaders



‘Tis the season for, well, looking back at the previous golf season. Hopefully, you’re still able to put a peg in the ground where you live.

However, if you find yourself stuck on the couch, staring longingly at your clubs in the corner as they begin their period of forced hibernation, we’re here to offer you an always enjoyable (we hope) diversion: a look at the equipment of some of the best golfers in the game this past season.

More specifically, we’re taking a look at the driver head and shaft combinations of the best drivers of the golf ball on the PGA Tour (as measured by their strokes gained: off-the-tee metric) for the 2022-2023 PGA Tour season.

Let’s get to it.

10. Hayden Buckley: 0.611

Driver: Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees)

Shaft: UST Mamiya Lin Q M40X Blue 6F5

9. Luke List

Driver: Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX

8. Viktor Hovland: 0.741

Driver: Ping G425 LST (9 degrees @8.4)

Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 TR X (45.75 inches, tipped 1 inch)

7. Keith Mitchell: 0.743

Driver: Mizuno ST-Z 230 (9.5 degrees)

Shaft: Project X HZRDUS T1100 75 6.5

6. Kevin Yu: 0.803

Driver: Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond

Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Pro White 80 TX

5. Brent Grant: 0.806

Driver: Srixon ZX7 Mk II (8.5 degrees)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Pro Black 75 TX

4. Patrick Cantlay: 0.852

Driver: Titleist TS3 (9.5 @8.75 degrees)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60 TX

3. Rory McIlroy: 0.907

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (9 degrees @7.5)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Blue 6 X

*McIlroy switched into TaylorMade’s Qi10 LS driver at the DP World Tour Championship. 

2. Ludvig Åberg: 0.982

Driver: Titleist TSR2 (9 degrees)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X

1. Scottie Scheffler: 1.021

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (8 degrees)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X

*Scheffler switched into TaylorMade’s Qi10 LS driver at the Hero World Challenge. 

There you have it, GolfWRXers. We’ll be back with more pieces of this nature as we X out the days in December.

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Callaway Apex Pro, Apex CB, Apex MB combo irons – Club Junkie Reviews



When Callaway released the new Apex Pro, Apex CB, and Apex MB irons in August, better-skilled golfers were very excited to get them out on the course to try for themselves.

The Apex Pro packs a ton of technology into a small head size with reduced offset and a thinner topline. Callaway updated the new Apex CB with a new sole design for better turf interaction and shot consistency. The Apex MB is the blade for elite players who are looking for precise distance control and shot shaping.

Callaway knows some golfers like to mix and match clubs from different sets to optimize their performance, so I was very intrigued to see how the Apex Pro Series Triple Play iron set combined all three irons.

Callaway Apex Pro Long Irons (4, 5, 6)

When you set the new Apex Pro irons down, you will be pleased with the look of reduced offset and a compact shape. The irons aren’t so small that you get intimidated, I think Callaway picked a good size. Being slightly larger than the CB and MB gives you a little more confidence that you don’t need to strike it dead center in order to get a good shot out of them.

The Pros use multi-material construction to add distance and forgiveness while the forged face and body give you soft feel and distance control. Urethane Microspheres are also used to dampen vibration and give the Pro irons a soft and solid feel. Now the GolfWRXer in me wishes the Pro had a touch less offset, but I like the overall shape and think the more rounded toe gives them a softer look.

Out on the course, the 4, 5, and 6-irons are easy to hit and do offer you a little extra firepower for those longer shots. The feel is soft and muted, even on mishits, and the turf interaction from the Dynamic Sole design resists digging in soft conditions. The 4-iron is a real cannon off the tee on short par 4’s and long par 3’s, giving you the distance as well as added height to stop the ball on the green.

Off the turf, you can easily elevate the 5 and 6-iron shots into greens, but all of the Pro irons offer better forgiveness than you might expect. My miss is generally off the toe and those shots still get up in the air and carry. When you miss, you can still carry that bunker or get the ball to the front of the green.

Apex CB Mid Irons (7, 8, 9)

These might be my favorite looking out of the three iron sets in terms of size and shape. They blend some of the roundness from the Apex Pro with a slightly sharper toe and more compact size. The Apex CB have very little offset, and the transition from hosel to leading edge is done well and without too much curvature.

The soles are more narrow, but you can see more of the angles in the Dynamic Sole. The pre-worn leading edge and trailing-edge relief stand out more and work very well. I play in Michigan, and you rarely come across a firm and fast fairway, so turf interaction is very noticeable in these softer conditions. Much like the Apex Pro, the CB gets into the turf immediately and wants to shallow out and exit quickly.

Solidly struck shots feel so solid and soft with a heavy “thud” at impact. When it comes to feel, these irons will easily hold their own against other popular forged CBs. Shots hit thin or off the toe will bring more vibration to your hands and produce a clickier sound.

Distance control with the Apex CB irons is very, very good. Well-struck shots seem to fly exactly the same distance and height every time. The launch is a little lower than the Apex Pro but you still can elevate them off the turf or tee. These irons also seem to spin a bit more as you notice shots having a little more curvature to them. Into the wind, you can see a touch of rise in the shot. You will notice a little more of a dropoff in carry when you miss the center of the face, but directionally the ball stays online well.

Callaway added MIM weights in the toe, and as much as they perfect the balance of each iron, they seem to add some forgiveness as well. Skilled players will love the shotmaking ability of the CB: You can hit them high, low, left, or right, and in any combination of the aforementioned.

Apex MB Short Irons (10, 11)

First, just having irons with a “10” and an “11” on the sole is flat-out cool. That little difference is fun to see and they always get comments from other golfers. While all of the new Apex irons blend well together, these have the most distinctive look to my eye. They are the edgiest look with a sharper toe and straight leading edge. There is a lack of softness and roundness to the me, but again, they blend in well with the set.

I only have the pitching and gap wedge in the set, but that is about where my skill tops out! The MB will demand your attention as they obviously are the least forgiving in the set. While well-struck shots will reward you with impeccably soft feel and a solid “thud” sound, off-center will be a little more harsh on your hands and ears. My misses tend to be the most dramatic and you will see a big drop off in distance when you hit it out on the toe. Where the Apex Pro will get you on the green, the MB can keep you just off depending on the miss.

For being such high-lofted clubs, they do keep a lower ball flight that carries a lot of spin into the green. You can easily fire at tight pins with confidence that the trajectory and spin will keep the ball close to its landing spot. And since they are MBs, you can flight those shots any way you would like with ease.

Turf interaction is good, but these will dig the most out of the set. But even with the deeper divot, the irons get through the turf very quickly.

Matching the gap wedge to the set is something I have liked in this set. There is just a feeling of consistency on full, or close-to-full shots that you don’t get with a sand wedge-style head. Those full shots kind of feel like you are just hitting a pitching wedge but at a shorter distance. The “11-iron” still works around the green, and you can hit little pitch and chip shots with plenty of spin, even with an open face.

Overall, Callaway’s Triple Play offers a little bit of everything for players who need a little help in the long irons but want consistency in the scoring clubs. Feel, distance, and forgiveness are all added to the mix in good amounts in order to balance out the set. If you are a single-digit handicap who wants a players look from address but needs a little help, Callaway’s Apex Pro Series combo sets are well worth trying out.

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Whats in the Bag

Tony Finau WITB 2023 (December)



  • Tony Finau’s what’s in the bag accurate as of the Hero World Challenge.

Driver: Ping G430 LST (9 degrees @7) Buy.
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX

3-wood: Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond T (14 degrees) Buy here.
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX

Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3) Buy here, Ping Blueprint (4-PW) Buy here.
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 105 Hybrid X (3), Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 Tour 120 TX

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 (50-12S, 56-12S) Buy here, Titleist Vokey Design WedgeWorks Proto (60-T) Buy here.
Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 125 Wedge S

Putter: Ping PLD Anser 2D prototype Buy here.
Grip: Garsen Golf Ultimate

Grips: Lamkin UTx Mid

Ball: Titleist Pro V1 Left Dot Buy here.

See the rest of Tony Finau’s WITB in the forums.

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