Golf is a game of inches, degrees and grams, with the slightest of modifications to golf gear having a major impact on our results.
Just recently I was having trouble with catching my five-iron heavy, and the local pro I was working with at my home course swore the lie angle of my clubs wasn’t right for me, causing the toe of the club to be too upright at address.
This led to the heel of the club digging into the turf at impact, resulting in a poor strike.
It only cost me $30 to have my irons flattened out by two degrees and overnight my ball-striking improved dramatically.
Admittedly, there was also a bit of a sales pitch for the need to look at upgrading my clubs, so I hit a few of the Callaway Apex Pros and, I have to say, I did like the feel.
But with the tungsten weight in these clubs being one of the defining features, there is a way I could try and replicate this heavier feeling in my current clubs without breaking the bank: lead tape.
Lead tape can be used to increase the weight of a golf club, specifically the head of all types of clubs. It should be applied to the back of irons or putters so as not to interfere with contact, or the heel or toe of a driver to try and counteract undesired open or closed strikes. Additionally, weight, in the form of lead tape, will increase how heavy the club feels, but might reduce swing speed.
If you no longer love the feel of your irons or putter, or have issues with a certain miss with driver, something as simple as the Unique Sports Golf Lead Tape (pictured below) could be a cheaper option than purchasing brand new clubs and is well worth some experimentation.
What does lead tape do on golf clubs?
Lead tape can change the weight of any golf club, making the clubhead feel heavier if the golfer desires this outcome. Lead tape can also be used to counteract consistent misses, such as by adding weight to the toe of the club to keep the face open, reducing hooks and promoting fades.
Thankfully, modern golf clubs do a lot of this work for you with their adjustability; utilising in-built, movable weights that you can swap out for lighter or heavier ones, or shift towards the heel or toe in order to change the shape of your ball flight.
However, modern golf clubs will range in their adjustability, from something like the Callaway Epic Max Driver where weight can be adjusted from the centre to the heel or toe, whereas the RadSpeed from Cobra only has one adjustable weight at the back of the club helping golfers tweak the height of their ball flights.
When looking at irons and wedges, weight adjustability is unlikely to be a feature.
Lead tape still has massive utility, as – even if a club boasts some adjustability – it may not be exactly the type or amount you are looking for.
If you love your RadSpeed driver but start to develop a hook, then lead tape in the toe will be the only way you can alter the weight in the clubhead to counteract this miss.
It can also increase the weight of your putter or straighten out common misses, much like the driver, by adding more to the heel or the toe of the club.
Modern putters like the Mizuno M-Craft Range have inbuilt weights that can be adjusted to do this for you, but they are at the expensive end of the market and you may be content with your old putter once you’ve made some minor adjustments.
Lead tape is a fantastic, cheap option to make alterations to older or cheaper clubs without having to go out and purchase a new, expensive model.
How do you put lead tape on a golf club?
Lead tape is applied on the back or sole of the clubhead, depending on the desired result. Any club where you make contact with the ground – such as a putter or iron – will need to have small strips of lead tape stuck to the back of the clubhead so it doesn’t interfere with turf interaction. Lead tape can be placed on the bottom of drivers; more to the heel to promote a draw, and further towards the toe to assist in hitting a fade.
A two-inch strip of lead tape will usually add 2-3 grams of weight to the clubhead, so if you are looking for monumental shifts in weight you’ll need to layer it on top of itself a few times.
In doing so, you don’t want to change the appearance of the club, if possible, as it could start to play tricks on your mind when looking down at it at address.
It is unlikely you’ll need to do anything too crazy to hold off the toe of your driver and help a fade, however, as the adjustable drivers on the market possess weights that only weigh few grams anyway.
The most important thing to remember is that – so long as you aren’t trying to promote a draw or fade – the tape needs to be applied evenly to the sole or back of the club.
By precisely measuring strips that stretch from one end of your clubhead to the other, you should avoid making this mistake.
Is lead tape legal in golf?
Yes, lead tape is legal in golf. The USGA stipulates in rule 14-3 that “lead tape may be applied to the head or shaft of the club for the purpose of adding weight”. Whether the addition of weight is intended to make the club heavier or to promote a certain ball flight is irrelevant.
If the rules of golf that govern the pros permit the use of lead tape, it means it will be perfectly legal to do so at your local club during weekend competitions.
Is lead tape safe to use on golf clubs?
Lead tape is generally considered safe to use, if treated with appropriate caution. Always add it to parts of your golf club you don’t touch regularly and use gloves when applying it to your clubs. If in doubt, read the instructions on packaging for directions about safe use.
Once you have applied the lead tape to your clubs, it’s best not to store it in your golf bag.
The last thing you want is for it to rub up against things like tees and ball markers, especially if you’re prone to putting a tee in your mouth as you get organised for a drive.
Worse yet, it would be less than ideal to have the lead tape grinding up against food or drink stored in your bag for on-course consumption.
Is lead tape easy to remove from golf clubs?
Lead tape can be tricky to remove, especially if it has been stuck to a club for a number of years. The best way to remove lead tape from a golf club is to heat it slightly to soften the hold, then use a sharp object to lift the corner. Using a solvent will help get rid of stubborn residue to return your club to normal.
Many people recommend holding the lead tape up to a flame from a distance, but I have found that a hair dryer on a high heat setting can be just as effective.
A super thin razor can help lift the corner of the tape just enough to peel back with your fingers – just be sure not to try and do this with your teeth!
A nail polish remover with acetone as an active ingredient should be effective in removing the sticky, stubborn residue which can be challenging to shift.
How much lead tape do I add to my driver?
If adding lead tape to your driver, you’ll need to make a weight change of at least three or four grams to feel an impact. Given most lead tape on the market contains between one and two grams of weight per inch, it will take a few inches of tape to have an impact on your driver.
So, if you are adding lead tape to the toe of your driver to keep the face open and promote a fade (without turning it into a big slice), I’d recommend aiming for at least four grams of additional weight to see a reasonable result.
Depending on the brand, this could only be a couple of inches or several.
Higher density tape will likely be more expensive and a bit less workable, but probably worth it for things like putters where you’ll just be using straight segments to add to the base or back of the club.
I’d recommend using the Unique Sports version for a driver as it will be a little easier to mould around the curves of the clubhead and you have the ability to layer it, as the clubhead shouldn’t be coming into contact with the ground.
Having said this, you’ll need to squeeze about 6-8 inches of this tape onto your clubhead to make a noticeable difference in weight or performance.
How do you apply lead tape to wedges?
To apply lead tape to wedges, place strips on the back of the club, ensuring that it is centred. If you have issues with a consistent left miss (as a right-handed player), add tape a little more to the toe to promote a fade. Similarly, lead tape placed more towards the heel will help cure a miss right.
Unlike applying lead tape to a driver, it is crucial you do not add it to the base of the club.
Given the sole of your wedges interacts with the ground, lead tape on the bottom will mess with how the club cuts through the turf.
The above video from RoyBoy Golf gives a good demonstration on how to correctly add lead tape to your wedges, which is well worth a watch.
You can also check out our recommended list of wedges to buy here if you’re in the market for some new clubs.
Where do you put lead tape on a putter?
Lead tape should be added to the sole of the putter or the back of the clubhead. If you are purely using it to add weight, ensure it is applied evenly and in a symmetrical fashion. If you have problems with a push, add tape more to the heel; adding tape towards the toe will help remedy issues with a pull.
Some golfers will find that lead tape on the sole of the club works well for them, especially if they have a putting stroke lifted well off the ground (see Rickie Fowler).
For others, they may feel that the lead tape impedes the swing a touch, especially if prone to grazing the surface of the green with the putter head.
If this is the case, there’s usually going to be plenty of room on the back of the putter head to place a few strips.
The use of lead tape can fall in and out of fashion and is becoming less necessary – especially in drivers and putters – given the increased adjustability of these modern-day clubs.
Nevertheless, if you find that you like the feel of that little extra weight, or want to cure a consistent miss with a club that is older and lacks adjustability, lead tape is still a cheap, easy and reliable solution that is well worth a try.