Golf groove sharpeners are a type of tool that straddles the fine line between gimmick and genuine performance improvement device.
Golfers of all standards are always in search of that extra edge, but being the guy or girl who pushes things to weird and questionable extremes can draw raised eyebrows from your playing partners.
The use of golf groove sharpeners would probably fall under this bracket. But the question is: do they work?
The answer is, yes, Golf groove sharpeners work to give your irons and wedges an increased spin rate. Sharpening grooves won’t make the ball go farther or your clubs necessarily perform more consistently, but crisp, sharp grooves will grip your ball more and the extra spin will help you hold more greens, something every golfer desires.
Before sharpening your grooves, though, it is important to weight up the downsides, including the legalities around groove regulations and the potential damage you can do to your club.
How do golf groove sharpeners work?
Golf groove sharpeners work through using a tool to strip back layers of metal from your club along the groove lines in the clubface. Over time, these grooves can wear down and become rounded, so sharpening will grind back dull edges leading to crisp corners.
It is important to note, though, that sharpeners will remove layers of metal from your clubface – layers that are gone forever – so your clubface will be permanently changed in the process.
Are golf groove sharpeners legal?
While it is perfectly legal to use a golf groove sharpener, your modified club must still comply with the rules of the game regarding golf groove alignment, depth and spacing. The grooves of golf clubs are required to meet certain depth, spacing, width, symmetry and consistency requirements to be deemed legal for tournament use.
If groove sharpening causes your club to fall outside any of these parameters, you now have a club that permanently can’t be used in competition.
There are also limitations on how sharp grooves can be on any clubs with a loft greater than 25 degrees.
Most clubs manufactured by big brands will meet all of these standards, so tinkering with groove sharpness of newly-purchased clubs could well put them over the edge.
We recommend only considering groove sharpening to return an older club to a previous standard – not trying to ‘pimp out’ a fresh set for the ultimate advantage.
Do golf groove sharpeners affect spin rate?
PGA professional and YouTube golfing royalty Rick Shiels performed an experiment to answer this question (see the video above), using a golf groove sharpener to revamp an old 7-iron and 56-degree wedge.
Prior to sharpening, the 7-iron was achieving around 6200 rpm of spin. This jumped considerably to 6800 rpm of spin post sharpening.
Similarly, the 56-degree wedge leaped from 11,000 rpm of spin to 11,600 rpm of spin, numbers that could be the difference between holding a green or skipping into a bunker.
However, what his experiment could not specify was whether the newly-sharpened grooves actually met international regulations, so his efforts may well have been in vain if the clubs would be deemed illegal for use.
Overall, there’s no denying that sharper grooves will see a lift in the rate of spin imparted on the golf ball.
Do golf groove sharpeners damage your clubs?
Using groove sharpeners on your golf clubs risks damaging the clubface if you aren’t precise when using the tool. Extra care must be taken not to dig grooves that are too deep or too wide, as this may render your club illegal for competition use and cause irreversible damage.
When using a groove sharpener, shards of metal will be ground from the clubface, so if you aren’t confident in what you are doing you could scratch the surface of your club in an undesired location, leading to a negative effect on its performance, rather than an improved outcome.
It is also vital you identify whether you have ‘U’ shaped or ‘V’ shaped grooves before sharpening, as different shaped grooves will require the use of a different shaped sharpening tool.
Most tools purchased will be able to sharpen both types, but choose the wrong attachment and you’ll be doing more harm to your clubs than good.
To determine the shape of your grooves, look closely at their shape with the naked eye or a form of magnification.
If your grooves have two sides and a flat bottom, they are ‘U’ shaped. If they have slanting sides that meet at a point, they are ‘V’ shaped.
Sharpening can also cause friction and lead to the tool ‘digging in’ without lubrication.
A spray of WD-40 on the clubface will help the tool glide back and forth.
What are the best golf groove sharpeners?
Golf groove sharpeners are a pretty basic tool and there are plenty available online that will adequately do the job.
Here are three affordable options that will work just fine.
SENHAI Golf Club Groove Sharpener
The SENHAI Golf Club Groove Sharpener is a cheap and reliable option for sharpening grooves.
- 6 blades of different widths, 3 for U shaped grooves and 3 for V shaped grooves.
- High quality metal composition of vacuum-treated steel measuring 60 on the Rockwell hardness scale, achieving maximum durability.
- A nylon and wire brush to clean club face post sharpening, as well as other equipment including shoes and bags.
- A portable design with clip to be attached to bag for easy access.
VIPMOON Golf Clean Tool Set
The VIPMOON Golf Clean Tool Set is a comprehensive sharpening and cleaning kit, assisting golfers in maintaining clubs for optimum performance.
- A retractable 3 in 1 golf cleaning brush tool with both nylon and steel wire bristles, professionally used to clean irons while out on the fairways.
- It also contains spikes to clean the grooves of golf shoes.
- Durable groove sharpeners for both U and V shaped grooves.
- Made of high-grade vacuum heat-treated steel for high durability.
- Perfect for improving backspin and control.
- Lightweight and portable with hanging buckle for easy carry.
- Packaged in clear plastic safety container for easy storage.
SENHAI Golf Club Cleaning Kit
The SENHAI Golf Club Groove Cleaner with Two Piece Dual Bristle Brush is the ultimate golf club sharpening and gear cleaning combo.
With a groove sharpening tool and several cleaning brush heads, this kit will keep all your gear clean and ready for use.
- A 6-head groove sharpener with cutting ends for both U and V shaped grooves.
- A high-quality metal composition, made from vacuum-treated steel measuring 60 on the Rockwell hardness scale.
- Two dual bristle brushes with heads ranging in firmness and resistance.
- Retractable carabiner clips adopting a unique ergonomic design for easy golf bag attachment.
What are the alternatives to groove sharpening?
There are few alternatives to groove sharpening. If the grooves of your club are significantly worn, and you don’t wish to refurbish them with a sharpening tool, then the only real option left is to buy new clubs. It may be worth attempting groove sharpening first before making such a purchase.
If you are anything like me, the whole process and intimidation of sharpening the grooves of your golf clubs might feel a bit overwhelming.
Stripping back layers of metal from the face of my clubs is just too nerve-racking, so it isn’t something I’ll be jumping into doing any time soon.
Despite this, having clean grooves is something I do care about strongly, and I would recommend all golfers keep their grooves free of dirt, grass and debris at all times to promote optimum performance.
Any time something gets between the ball and clubface when playing a shot, spin will be reduced, so a cheap cleaning tool with a soft wire brush can do wonders to keep those grooves sparkling.
You can even keep your grooves clean with a golf tee – simply run the pointy end back and forth along the grooves to dislodge any grass or dirt.
For many golfers, groove sharpening may feel a little extreme and possibly sit outside the comfort level of what people are willing to do to their clubs.
If you are daring enough to give it a go, make sure you identify the groove shape of your clubs – U or V shaped – and use the correct cutting tool.
However, if you play regular competitive rounds, your clubs must meet international regulations around grooves, including depth, width and sharpness, so it could be worth seeking professional advice before sharpening to ensure your clubs remain legal throughout the process.
If all else fails, regular cleaning with a soft wire brush will keep your grooves clean and may well maintain desired spin results without the intrusive process of groove sharpening.