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What causes golf clubs to break? We have the answers.

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What makes a club break? We cover some common reasons here.

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Welcome to Equipment Questions You’re Afraid to Ask, a GOLF.com series produced in partnership with Cleveland/Srixon Golf.

It happens to the best of us. And the worst Inevitably, at some point, whether during transit, shipping, or during the course of the game, the equipment will break down and something will break, bend, dent, or become unusable in some way.

I know firsthand. It happened to me last Friday.

On the first swing my “new” driver (new like only four months) broke about a half inch above the hosel. Oddly enough, it broke upon impact and remained intact until I reached down to pick up my jersey.

The question is, was it something I did while hitting the ball? Or was my driver’s death the result of something else? In most cases, unless you miss wildly in the center of the face, you probably won’t damage a club during the course of normal play. The initial damage most likely occurred before it came out (the exact reason is detailed below).

Let’s look at some of the most common ways a club can break or become so damaged that you can no longer use it. And, for a review, the golf rules makes it clear that if you damage a stick during normal play, you can still use said stick as long as it is intact and usable. What you can’t do is replace it until after your round. I know, that doesn’t make any sense either.

Common causes of breakage:

your bag falls

This is so common that I bet you can remember the last time it happened to you. If you’re a walker, sometimes when your bag falls out it’s not so bad. Especially when it rolls over onto the grass. But in the cart path or near the clubhouse? That’s where the damage can be catastrophic.

This is especially true for bags that fall off the back of golf carts, usually as a result of forgetting to attach your bag to the cart or of faulty or loose straps not holding your bag securely. Or maybe it was a horrible prank. Either way, the blunt force trauma of the bag on concrete or cement is enough to snap a graphite shaft, bend a steel shaft, and leave some serious scratches or dents on clubheads.

Your clubs are not arranged correctly in your bag

I know, this doesn’t seem like it’s going to cause a shaft breakage, it’s just a poorly organized assembly with the bag falling out and it can damage your stuff. I know because that’s why my driver broke. Before my round, my clubs fell in the parking lot. I didn’t think much of it, but I had a large mallet (no headcover) in the same slot on the stick as my wood. Apparently, when my clubs fell, the putter hit the ground first (I have a big dent to prove it) and my driver shaft hit the sharp end of the putter head, evidently cracking it.

This could have been avoided if I had put my putter somewhere else in my bag.

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Too little or too much epoxy

This is less common, but still prevalent among amateur golfers who have a torch and vise and insist on making their own clubs. That’s fine and we encourage it, but make sure you have an even hand when using epoxy to fuse the shaft to the clubhead.

Not having enough could cause the head to fly off, and check this out, having too much epoxy (especially if you get it inside the shaft) can cause brittleness at the intersection of the shaft and the clubhead.

jingle jingle in the car

Your money may not move, but your clubs do, whether you’re walking or riding in a cart. You may think that riding will lead to a smoother ride for your clubs, but that’s not always true if you pay on rough, bumpy golf courses. Those bumps, skids, and even slight moments where the front or back of your cart goes up in the air could cause the axles to press hard against the club spacers in your bag, causing fractures and/or breakage. Also, you may think it’s a good idea to over-tighten the stroller bag strap, but if you over-tighten it, you could choke your device, increasing the chance of it bending or breaking.

Bonus tip! Always keep head covers on your sticks and use your towel between them for an extra layer of cushioning.

kitchen rugs

Not only can mats be the demise of your wrists and elbows, but hitting a mat puts a lot more stress on the shaft than hitting off the turf. Kitchen mats are sometimes not that thick and it’s an inch or so before you hit hard concrete or cement. Hitting this type of surface over time will invariably lead to bent loft angles or even some broken axles.

Tree roots and embedded rocks

The mere thought of swinging a club at full force anywhere near a tree root should make you nervous. And with good reason, as many golfers have suffered major injuries from hitting a tree root hidden just below the turf. The same goes for hitting an unforeseen rock. Both can apply massive torque to a shaft, causing it to bend or break. And probably a trip to your doctor.

Oxide

We’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Rust may look good on the clubhead, but if water gets on the steel shafts, that’s not good. Rust could eat away at the axle from the inside out, causing breakages that are not only scary, but downright dangerous. This is why any time your clubs get wet, you should always dry them out of the bag as soon as possible.

Big misses and temper flare-ups

Whether you’re prone to missing the sweet spot (we mean big, like off the heel or toe) or have a knack for taking your frustrations out on your team, your clubs aren’t worth the abuse. If you can’t hit the wide side of a stable and you’re making contact in places on the clubhead that aren’t necessarily designed for impact, a lesson should be your first course of action to stop denting, cracking or bending your gear.

Second, if your temper is getting the better of you and damaging your clubs during rages, stop. Go for a walk. Drink some water. This is not the PGA Tour.

Trip

We save the worst for last. Traveling is hard on your gear, especially if you don’t pack your clubs properly in your travel bag. The key is to pack things well so there is less room for bends and tears. Better yet, make sure your bag is balanced and supported with products like Stiff Arm.

Some golfers go so far as to put their clubs in their bags upside down (club heads down) to prevent breakage, and while we haven’t tried this ourselves, it seems like a good idea. More padding is always better and again make sure things are nice and snug.

Finally, remember to check your equipment for cracks, breaks, and bends from time to time. And not only that, pay attention to normal wear and tear too. This means checking your grooves, your lay angles (they can bend over time), and be sure to check that any removable weights or adjustable hosels are tight and secure. With a little TLC, your sticks will last a long time.

Do you want to renew your bag for 2022? Find a suitable location near you at the GOLF affiliate company True spec golf. For more information and gear news, check out our latest Fully Geared podcast below!

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