OUR JOB IS YOUR GAME

Whether it is a full shot, a flighted three-quarter approach, a delicate pitch, a tricky bunker shot or the simplest of chips, wedges offer a plethora of reasons to be in your bag.

Unfortunately, with every shot, your golf wedge’s groove life diminishes incrementally. Titleist recommends replacing your wedges after 75 rounds. However, cost is always a concern. Most golfers, especially recreational ones, aren’t buying new wedges after 75 rounds.

So how can you keep your grooves fresh?

Groove sharpening tools.

Do they really make a difference? Let’s take a look.

HOW WE TEST

As per usual, data was collected using a Foresight GCQuad Launch monitor. All testers hit  Titleist Pro V1 golf balls

For this test, shots were hit with two 56-degree golf wedges:

  • Titleist Vokey Design 256
  • Callaway Golf X-Tour Vintage

Both clubs were, shall we say, well used.

Golf Wedge

Test Parameters

  • 15 testers hit 15 shots with each club under each condition.
  • There were two conditions: unsharpened golf grooves and sharpened golf grooves.
  • Testing conditions were indoors at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

GROOVE SHARPENERS

For this test, we utilized two different groove sharpeners with two different price points.

  • HIFROM Groove Sharpener ($10.99) – A six-headed groove sharpener featuring “V” and “U” shaped sharpening heads.
  • GrooVex ($79.50) – The first “precision solid carbide groove” re-sharpener on the market which claims to offer conforming groove geometry.

Golf grooves

Both sharpeners claim their tool will not breach or compromise USGA and R&A groove regulations for depth and width.

For added clarity, we checked in with Paul Wood, VP of Engineering at PING, who told us, “as soon as a golfer uses a tool to alter the grooves, it does bring in the risk that they are non-conforming.”

So, before we dive any further (or you pound the Buy It Now button), keep in mind that sharpening the grooves on your wedges introduces the risk of running afoul of the Rules of Golf.

BUY NOW

GROOVE SHARPENER DATA

Un-Sharpened Data

Groove data

Prior to getting to the nitty-gritty, we ran both wedges through a protocol to determine baseline numbers. During this portion of the test, the Titleist Vokey 256 produced a higher spin on average and a lower launch angle on average.

For the Vokey 256, backspin was 345 rpms higher on average versus the X-Tour Vintage. As for launch angle, Vokey 256 was 0.74 degrees lower than the X-Tour Vintage.

Again, these are well-used wedges. Our objective here was to establish a pre-sharpened baseline.

Sharpened Data

Time for the fun.

After our initial shots were collected with both wedges, we used the GrooVex to sharpen the Vokey 256. We used the HIFROM on our old Callaway X-Tour Vintage.

The results were shocking.

The Callaway X-Tour Vintage’s backspin increased from 6,312 rpms to 7,297 rpms—an 985-rpm post-sharpening increase. On the flip side, the Vokey 256’s backspin decreased by 400 rpms.

GROOVE SHARPENERS – KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. Post Sharpening Results

The results are surprising, to say the least.

The HIFROM increased spin while we saw a decrease in spin with the GrooVex. In a sense, it brings to light the truth in Wood’s statement: proceed with caution when using a groove sharpening tool. The data suggest it could further diminish spin performance.

2. Groove Sharpener or The Wedge

The data suggests the GrooVex decreased spin on our old Vokey 256.

Groove geometry may have played a role. Did the conforming design of the GrooVex cause harm to the older “U” shaped grooves of the Vokey 256? If we stacked up two identical wedges, would we get the same results?

What percentage of golfers, would you guess, know whether their wedge has U or V grooves?

3. Groove Sharpener Usability

In the battle of usability, the GrooVex is a clear winner. It is easy to hold and to apply pressure. Each tool (sharpener end and cleaning end) has guard rails to help against accidental scratches. Furthermore, it made the sharpening job quick.

On the other hand, HIFROM works but it creates some awkward angles and doesn’t have guard rails. Plus, it took more time to finish the sharpening process. That likely increases the likelihood of user error.

Above and beyond doing more harm than good to your wedge, the risk is that the resulting groove will be non-conforming. There’s no way to tell by looking and it’s not like you’ll be submitting your wedge to the USGA for inspection but if strict adherence to the rules matters, you’re better off avoiding sharpeners entirely.

That said, we suspect most golfers won’t care.

HIFORM

ADDITIONAL OBSERVATION

It is 2022. It’s likely that neither of our old wedges is conforming (that was probably true before we sharpened them). In a sensible world, they wouldn’t be in anyone’s golf bag. But this is golf and golfers sometimes like to hold on to things longer than they probably should.

If you cling to old wedges, it’s worth thinking about how much more life sharpening can give your past-its-prime wedge.

For the sake of comparison, we selected three new wedges. On average, they produced 9,467 rpm of spin. Even on the low end, the 8,510 rpm was significantly higher than we saw with the sharpened wedge.

The 10,854 rpm we saw from our highest-spinning new wedge is in a different ballpark entirely.

With that in mind, what makes more sense?

Do you stick with ole reliable and utilize a groove sharpener? Or do you bite the bullet, spend the money and buy something that actually spins like it should?

BOTTOM LINE

Can groove sharpeners make a difference? Yes, both positively and negatively.

They have the potential to increase backspin but it would appear that, in some cases, they can actually reduce spin. Again, there is no guarantee sharpeners won’t make your grooves non-conforming.

The bottom line: A new wedge is your best bet to increase spin.

Have you ever tried a groove sharpener? Drop a comment below and let us know.

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