GROOVE SHARPENERS – CAN THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Golf Wedges

GROOVE SHARPENERS – CAN THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

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GROOVE SHARPENERS – CAN THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

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 OBSERVATIONS AND TESTING

1. A NEW WEDGE IS THE BEST OPTION

It is 2022. It’s likely that none of our old wedges are 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 sentimentality sometimes leads us to hold on to things longer than we probably should.

If you cling to old wedges, it’s worth considering whether sharpening the grooves can help your “past-its-prime” wedge.

For the sake of comparison, we selected three new wedges. On average, the new options produced 9,467 rpm of spin. The lowest rpm we saw of the three was 8,510 . This was still significantly higher than the results collected with the older, sharpened wedges.

The highest-spinning wedge was one of the three newer models tested which registered 10,854 rpm was observed, 3,652 rpm higher than the sharpened SM5.

With that in mind, what makes more sense?

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

2. GROOVEX and CONFORMING GROOVES

Needless to say, our initial findings were surprising. Therefore, we found it necessary to conduct additional testing with the GrooVex. The goal was simple: to see if it worked positively with pre-existing conforming grooves.

For this, two wedges were utilized: Titleist Vokey SM5 and Titleist Vokey SM6. Both were manufactured after the 2010 USGA groove rule.

The same testing procedures were implemented. However, we used the GrooVex on both Vokeys.

As you can see, GrooVex creates a positive outcome for preexisting, conforming grooves, a result that may entice you to give the product a try.

BUY NOW

BOTTOM LINE

Can groove sharpeners make a difference? Yes, both positively and negatively, as we saw with our testing.

They have the potential to increase backspin but it would appear that, in some cases, they can actually reduce spin. The risk-reward will always be present with using groove sharpeners. Again, there is no guarantee sharpeners won’t make your grooves non-conforming, however, that is the potential risk.

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.

For You

For You

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Phillip Bishop

Phillip Bishop

Phillip Bishop

Cancer Survivor. Amputee Golfer. Essentially, a OneLeggedBoss. When he isn't facilitating testing or analyzing data, Phillip enjoys his family time, practicing and playing golf, unwinding with video games, capturing photos of nature, or devouring pretzels.

Phillip Bishop

Phillip Bishop

Phillip Bishop

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Driver Titleist TSR3 3 Wood Titleist TSR3
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Phillip Bishop

Phillip Bishop

Phillip Bishop





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      Perry

      2 years ago

      Years ago I sent my clubs to a repair / club builder to restore the groves. It worked, except every shot I hit peeled the paint right off the ball. Had to buy all new wedges. Now buy new off of eBay etc.

      Reply

      Archie Shipp

      2 years ago

      I’ve used the six sided one on my early 2000s Cleveland wedges (different models) to good effect. Use a few layers of masking tape to keep from escaping the grooves and scratching the faces. There is clearly added spin for the first dozen or so rounds after sharpening them. I’m a teacher so I have to make my equipment last.

      Reply

      Scott Vakerics

      2 years ago

      Best ones from Golf Works and also a nest to hold the wedge solid and provides a stop to prevent tool slips. Come in pre-2010 and post -2010 tools. Also have a gauge to measure groove debt at the top and try to match that to one’s being sharpened.

      Reply

      Carolyn

      2 years ago

      The more pieces of ball cover you find in your groves the more you made your wedge non-conforming…….bit if it is just you and your pals they won’t know or care that your chip came up 10 feet short because of the back spin…

      Reply

      Flea

      2 years ago

      A minor flaw in testing – one is cast iron – the other is forged.

      I’ll give you one guess which one is forged?

      Back to the drawing board.

      Reply

      s morency

      1 year ago

      Totally agree!!!
      I love MGS but they should feel bad about this one.
      Too many variables. Rookie mistake.
      Is it that hard to find to two identical forged wedges and two Vokey ?!?!?

      Reply

      Bryan

      2 years ago

      I used a groovex on my old Vokey wedges when I noticed wear on them. It seemed to help some but my middle set of grooves were too far gone to help them much. So I ended up buying new wedges anyway.

      Reply

      Max R

      2 years ago

      Thanks for doing this review.. Always wondered what if any, these sharpeners had on the spin of wedges that are 2+ years old. Was planning on updating my SM7s to SM9s in the Fall as they are losing their original spin rate. Buying new wedges seem to be the better way of spending $$ that will see a more realistic effect on your game. than buying a new driver every few years.

      Reply

      Tom

      2 years ago

      I too have used different groove sharpens on different makes of wedges. By definition sharpening means removal of material. Different manufacturers use different materials, thus, hardness on there faces. It’s easier to remove material on softer faces but it’s also extremely easy to go out of spec. Sharpeners do work but without a shoulder it’s very easy to go to far. Theh other difficulty is a well used wedge height closed up over usage requiring more pressure, thus, making going past spec very probable.

      Reply

      Mitch

      2 years ago

      If I can add couple of comments. I have tried a groove sharpening tool then Ping utilized “square” grooves and I backed off using. Obviously you don’t want to select that “V” shaped tool on square grooves or as today Ping has added 4 additional grooves on their newest Ping Forged Pro wedges with the Hydropearl finish. So I have reverted to keeping the grooves as clean as possible with a nylon brush.. In most instances the average golfer isn’t certain whether they are causing more harm as the article outlines. Just bite the bullet and update the bag with new wedges. Of course I’m sure technology will come to wedge design as OEM’s will offer wedges with replaceable groove face plates and become disposable like razors. We’ll see.

      Reply

      Tre

      2 years ago

      TaylorMade tried that and it was a fat failure. So I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

      Reply

      Clay Nicolsen

      2 years ago

      I made clubs for years. I have used, and still own, groove sharpeners.

      It really doesn’t matter which style is used, they are all extremely difficult to control, and very easy to slip out of the end of the groove and put a permanent scratch on the clubface. I used to cover the ends of the clubface with duct tape, rubbed down tightly so it’s good and stuck. And still be as careful as I could.

      But that was then and this is now. Now I just buy a new wedge.

      Reply

      Ace Hayes

      2 years ago

      New Wedge every day .
      Ok it’s expensive but if you feel you need a new wedge buy the thing. It’s every 12 months or so .
      Happy chipping
      Ace

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      I was told that constant sharpening will weaken the steel in between the grooves because people try to go as deep as possible when they sharpen grooves which only exaggerates this.

      I had the six head sharpening tool but don’t use it. I tend to resell my used clubs on eBay & with wedges, one slipup while sharpening & it’s dead giveaway that someone has resharpened the grooves.

      You can get like-new condition wedges at stores such as 2nd swing for roughly 40% below the new wedge price. When I’m at the point that my wedges look worn, I’ll just replace them.

      Reply

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