Do Groove Sharpeners Really Work? — (Should You Sharpen Your Club Grooves?)

do groove sharpeners really work and how to use groove sharpeners with golf instructor advice

When you watch golfers play on the PGA tour, you’ll notice how the caddies constantly clean the clubfaces after every shot. Keeping the clubface clean allows the ball to make consistent contact.

Golf irons and wedges have grooves on them. Over time and with constant use, those grooves will wear down. So, you might wonder if groove sharpeners work? 

The Tell Me More Golf crew will tell you all you need to know about groove sharpeners, if they are legal, and how sharper grooves can help you hit and hold more greens to lower your score.

do groove sharpeners really work and how to use groove sharpeners with golf instructor advice

Should You Sharpen Your Golf Club Grooves?

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It would help if you sharpened the grooves on your golf clubs. However, it would help if you did so with care, as golf groove sharpeners work by removing small amounts of metal from the surface of the club.

The grooves on golf clubs can wear down with repeated use.

As they wear down, they don’t grip the golf ball as well, and you can lose a lot of backspin on shots.

Sharpening your golf grooves is not difficult, but you need to be careful when doing so because you are removing metal from the grooves and permanently changing the clubface.

Sharpening the grooves on your golf clubs can increase the spin rate with your irons and wedges, as a sharper groove will dig into the surface of the golf ball better.

 As grooves grow dull over time, they lose the ability to grip the ball, which results in a higher launch angle with less spin.

Because manufacturers produce their products as close to the allowable specifications according to the rules of golf, sharpening your grooves may make them illegal for tournament play.

Some manufacturers will not sharpen grooves because the line between conforming and non-conforming is so tight.


You may take excellent care of your golf clubs and keep them as clean as possible, but with repeated use, your golf grooves will wear down. In addition, every golfer likes to be able to put more backspin on the ball to help shots hold the green when they hit into them.

Using a groove sharpener is easy.

The best groove sharpeners like those made by the Callaway and the Nu Groove Sharpener are designed to make sharpening the grooves easy for you.

In addition, they have guards on them to ensure that the sharpened grooves still conform to the rules of golf.

It’s important to remember that groove sharpeners work by removing metal from the clubface. Therefore, you cannot use the groove sharpener to change the shape of the groove, and it can only be so deep and narrow.

Using a Groove Sharpener

It’s not difficult to use a groove sharpener if you follow the directions and take your time when you’re doing it.

5 Steps For Using a Groove Sharpener

  1. Clean the club face in warm soapy water and a scrubbing brush to remove any dirt and grime from the club.
  2. Protect the club face by using electrical tape on the ends of the club face where the grooves stop. The tape will prevent the sharpener from hitting the non-grooved part of the club face when moving the sharpener back and forth.
  3. Start at a 45-degree angle and slowly draw the groove sharpener back and forth along the grooves. You don‘t have to use too much force, and the groove sharpener will do most of the work for you.
  4. Adjust the angle of the sharpener vertically toward 90%, as this will get them back to their original depth. Again, you don‘t have to grind the clubface with the sharpener but run it back and forth along the grooves.
  5. If it does feel like the groove sharpener is sticking, use some W-40 or light cooking oil to help the sharpener glide back and forth. Wipe the excess oil off with a cloth when you’re done sharpening the grooves.

Take your time and start with 5 or 10 strokes back and forth for each groove. It might take five to ten minutes per club to clean them, add the tape, sharpen them, and then take the tape off.
Alternatively, check with a local golf store, like Golfsmith, to see if they offer groove sharpening services if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself.


Are Groove Sharpeners Legal

Yes, groove sharpeners are legal to use. However, when you use a groove sharpener, you remove metal from the clubface.

Therefore, you could accidentally make your clubs illegal for competition.

The USGA and the R&A rules of golf state that grooves must be no more than 0.020 inches deep, 0.035 inches wide, and 0.075 inches from any adjacent grooves.

High-quality club makers like Cleveland, Cobra, Mizuno, TaylorMade, Vokey, Titleist, Ping, and Callaway manufacture their clubs to get as close to the allowable groove limit as possible. Any post-purchase modification can result in a conforming club becoming non-conforming.

The new groove and punch mark rule on January 1, 2010, so clubs produced before that date may have illegal grooves on them. In addition, old wedges with square and U grooves are no longer conforming.

New clubs and new sets of clubs made after 2010 should conform to the new groove rules.

You can check the Informational Club Database to see If your clubs are conforming or non-conforming in USGA Championships.

Do Golf Groove Sharpeners Affect Spin Rate?

Yes, groove sharpeners affect the spin rate on golf shots. Sharper grooves bite into the ball better than dull grooves, and this increased bite, in turn, increases the amount of backspin you can put on the ball.

As grooves wear down, the launch angle of the ball increases, and the spin rate decreases. In other words, as your grooves wear, you’ll start hitting the ball higher, with less backspin on the ball. Backspin is critical in getting a ball to stop on shots hitting the green.

How much sharpening the grooves of your club will affect the spin rate will vary depending on how sharp they were initially and how much you sharpen them.

According to, grooves played for 125 rounds gained 2% of launch angle, lost 2000 RPMs of spin, and added 14’ of roll out versus a club with fresh grooves.

Grooves played for 75 rounds, added 1% of launch angle, lost 900 RPMs of spin, and added 8‘ of roll out compared to new clubs.

You’re never going to get the grooves as good as they were when they were brand new, but you can improve their performance if you sharpen them properly.

FAQ Section

Is it good to sharpen grooves on golf clubs?

As grooves wear down, they lose the ability to bite into a golf ball and produce spin. However, if done correctly, a groove sharpener can return them as close to the original grooves as possible.

Sharp grooves on your clubs will help you put more backspin on the ball and lower the spin rate on your shots so you can hit lower shots, which check more.

However, keep in mind that when you use a groove sharpener, you are removing metal from the surface of the grooves. Care needs to be used with the sharpeners as they are very sharp and can accidentally cut metal where you didn’t intend. According to USGA regulations, there is a fine line between the grooves of conforming and non-conforming clubs.

Can you sharpen driver grooves?

You can sharpen the rules on your driver, but it is not recommended. Many drivers’ faces do not have grooves on them, and if they do, they are on the perimeter away from the sweet spot.

The reason is that the club face of drivers and fairway woods are made as thin as possible to make the clubhead as light as possible.

What can I use to sharpen my grooves?

You should use a golf club groove sharpener to sharpen the grooves on your golf clubs. They are safer to use and are often designed to make sure that your grooves are still conforming to USGA rules.

It is not advisable to use a screwdriver or any other tool that is not specifically designed to sharpen the grooves on golf clubs. It could be dangerous, and you could also damage the face of the golf club.

Buy a quality golf groove sharpener, follow the directions, and take your time. Then you can sharpen your grooves safely and significantly improve the performance of your clubs.

Conclusion: Research by

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If you have older irons and wedges and feel like you’ve lost some performance with them, sharpening the grooves is an inexpensive way to get them to feel like new again.

Sharpening the grooves on clubs is not hard, but you need to use the proper tool, follow the directions, and take your time doing it.

Manufacturers design clubs to get as close to the edge of what is allowed in the rules of golf. Therefore any sharpening of the grooves on clubs can easily make your clubs illegal to play in tournaments.

Properly done, sharper grooves can help you hit shots with a lower launch angle and more spin for shots that stop on a dime. The better you can control your golf ball in the air and stop it when it hits the green, the closer you’ll be to the pin, and the better you’ll score.


Patrick Corley

From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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