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How to Maintain Golf Equipment

You've been golfing for some time now, and you're attached to the clubs you've been using for years. They're comfortable and fit you and your swing to -- pardon the pun -- a tee. But using worn golf clubs can affect your golf game, in a bad way. You probably don't want to spend a fortune on new golf clubs, and the good news is you don't have to. With proper care and do-it-yourself retooling, your clubs can be as good as new.

Since the golf grip is the only direct contact between you and the golf club, its condition is extremely important. Good golf grips can actually help lower your scores, and worn or damaged grips can do the opposite. In this article, we'll tell you how to inspect your golf clubs for wear and tear. Then we'll take you step-by-step through regripping a club. Finally, we'll show you how to refinish your woods.

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Let's get started with the materials, tools, and steps for regripping a golf club. The details are on the next page.

For tips on caring for and repairing other types of sports equipment, try the following links:

Build up the grip with layers of spiral-wrapped tape, with the edges of the tape slightly separated.

Composition golf club grips become worn and damaged after years of heat (clubs left in a car trunk) and water (playing golf in the rain). You can buy new grips at most golf supply centers. Installing the grips on your clubs is a simple job.

Tools: sharp craft knife, vise.

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Materials: fine steel wool, double-faced adhesive tape, new grips, mineral spirits, mild detergent, golf club resin.

Time: about 1/2 hour per club.

Preformed golf grips eliminate the process of stretching and winding grips to fit the handle of a golf club. There are several styles and colors available.

With a sharp craft knife, split the old grip lengthwise down the handle of the club. Then peel off the old grip. The old grip will probably be stuck to adhesive tape; peel off the tape to expose the bare metal shaft. The shaft may have a wooden pin stuck in the top of the handle. Do not remove this pin; it may be used to properly weight the club. Remove any adhesive residue from the shaft with fine steel wool and mineral spirits.

Carefully spiral-wrap double-faced tape around the shaft, from the top of the shaft to within about 1/8 inch of the end of the new grip. Make sure the edges of the tape are slightly separated -- not overlapped. If you want to build up the grip, add one or two more layers of tape to the first layer. When the grip is the proper size, the tips of your fingers should just touch the palm of your hand. If there's a gap here, the grip is too large; if your fingers overlap into the palm of your hand, the grip is too small. Your fingers should just comfortably touch the palm of your hand.

Lock the shaft in a vise, padding the jaws of the vise so the jaws don't damage the metal. Then coat the tape with mineral spirits to make it slick. Slide the new grip over the tape, being careful not to rip the tape or the grip. If the tape catches and holds the grip, reslick the tape with more mineral spirits. Grasp the grip by the open end and pull it down over the shaft. On most grips, the top of the grip has a straight line or design embossed in the material. Work the grip around the club so that the line is centered on top of the shaft. Finally, after installing the grip, squeeze the grip with your hand several times so the tape adheres to the inside surface of the grip.

Store your clubs in a cool, dry area. Wash the grips occasionally with mild detergent and water; rinse and dry them thoroughly. After playing golf in wet weather, be sure to dry the grips -- and other parts of the clubs -- before you store the clubs. You can often restore the "tacky" touch to grips by covering them with special golf club resin, sold at many golf outlets.

If the grips on your golf clubs have a special "flat side" or raised ridge for hand position, you may want a professional to change the grips to meet your individual swing/grip specifications.

There's good news for golfers who just can't part with their worn woods: You can make them like new again by refinishing them yourself. We'll show you how on the next page.

For tips on caring for and repairing other types of sports equipment, try the following links:

Most golfers would rather fight than switch a set of good woods -- even though the wood's finish looks like the bottom of a boxcar. If you and your woods fit this description, the answer is a refinishing job.

Tools: small Phillips-head screwdriver, shallow pan, small natural-bristle brush, artists' brush.

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Materials: paint and varnish remover, fine steel wool, masking tape, wiping stain, aerosol spray varnish or lacquer, soft cloth, hard wax, black or white metal paint, toothpicks, waterproof glue, epoxy filler.

Time: about 2 hours per wood, over a 2-or 3-day period.

Wash the club thoroughly; remove all the dirt in the cross slots of the sole plate's screws. Use a screwdriver small enough to fit easily into the slots; too big a screwdriver could damage the soft brass screws.

Unscrew and remove the sole plate and soak it in a pan of paint remover for 1 hour. While the sole plate is soaking, work on the woods. After the plate has soaked for 1 hour, polish it with fine steel wool, and set it aside.

Protect the string windings and plastic insert plates of the woods with masking tape. Carefully coat the wooden head of the club with paint remover, using a clean natural-bristle brush. Let the remover work for 10 minutes, and then wipe it away with fine steel wool. This treatment should take off the old finish; if not, repeat.

Lightly buff the wood with fine steel wool. If you want the wood stained, apply a coat of wiping stain with a clean natural-bristle brush, and then wipe it off with a soft cloth. Bring the old woods with you when you buy stain that has to match; the degree of darkness depends on how many coats you apply and how long you leave each coat on before wiping it off. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for appropriate darkness.

When you've achieved the stain color you want, let the woods dry for 1 to 2 days. Then, very gently, buff the wood with fine steel wool. Clean the wood with a soft cloth and then spray it with clear varnish or lacquer from a spray can; use a dull or high-gloss finish, as desired. Let the finish dry completely.

When the varnish or lacquer has dried, very lightly buff the finish with fine steel wool and wipe the surface with a clean soft cloth. Then spray the wood again.

If you want a solid enamel finish on the wood, substitute dull or gloss enamel for the stain.

Let the finish dry for 2 full days. Then rub the wood with several coats of hard wax and buff it until it's smooth and shiny.

To restore the sole plate, carefully fill in the recessed lettering on the plate with black or white metal enamel, using an artists' brush. Wipe off excess enamel as you work. Let the enamel dry completely. When the enamel is dry, coat the sole plate with one or two applications of clear varnish or lacquer. Let the finish dry completely; then screw the sole plate back onto the wood.

If the screws are stripped and won't tighten, fill the holes with toothpicks and waterproof glue. Break up the toothpicks, fill the screw holes, and add a few drops of glue. Trim the toothpicks flush with the bottom of the wood. Work the screws halfway into the glued toothpicks and let the glue dry; then drive in the screws.

Use an epoxy filler to fill holes and dings in the wood. Do not use wood filler or steel wool; the weight of this material could change the swing weight of the club. Buy the epoxy filler at a golf supply store.

Whether your golf clubs need regripping or refinishing -- or both -- you can do it yourself. Keep your golf game and clubs at their best with this article's help.

For tips on caring for and repairing other types of sports equipment, try the following links:

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