This has been puzzling golfers for years.
Even as 2023 approaches, golfers remain fixated, as they have for years past, on the theory that rust adds spin.
A few months back, our #AskMyGolfSpy series included a segment on rust to educate the consumer on rust and whether it adds spin.
Here’s an early Christmas present: Eight out of eight manufacturers confirm that rust does NOT add spin.
But, as is our mandate, our curiosity and data-driven mindset demanded we find out for ourselves.
Here is the layout of our testing parameters:
- 15 testers
- 1 club – Callaway Golf JAWS Raw Black Plasma Wedge
- 3 conditions – Clean raw face, rust and extreme rust
- 16 shots per condition, per tester
- All shots were hit with Titleist Pro V1 golf balls
- Data was collected using ForeSight GCQuad launch monitor
There are plenty of videos showing how to create rust quickly. We used a concoction of salt, distilled white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and, of course, water. Two wedges were soaked in our concoction, removed and oxidized. By doing so, both got rusty.
For our “rust” condition, we cleaned up one of wedges to ensure there was less rust present in comparison to the other wedge (“extreme rust”).
The third wedge was left untouched in its purest form. The plastic wrap wasn’t removed until testing commenced.
All three wedges were raw wedges from Callaway Golf. They were also all 56 degree sand wedges.
1. RUST MOST LIKELY DOES NOT ADD SPIN
Right off the bat, it was pretty evident the spin differentials between each condition were minimal. And when we say “minimal,” we are talking between 100 and 200 rpm. This was evident in our overall results.
As you can see, the “clean” condition produces more spin on average. With little separation, both rust conditions have spin rates that are slightly lower on average.
The results strongly suggest that rust does not add spin. Rather, it could actually reduce backspin.
2. POSSIBLE ANOMALIES
Oddly enough, we saw some anomalies with spin results for some testers. These testers experienced roughly 173 rpm more on average when rust was present. Now, we aren’t going to jump ship and say, “rust does add spin.” However, it’s worth noting that anomalies occur, especially within the golf world.
What is the cause of this? Is it due to rust? Are the results more on an individual basis and thus unpredictable? Does a raw, un-plated wedge handle rust better?
It’s difficult to provide a definitive answer. However, there is the outlying possibility that on rare occasions rust may increase spin or that an un-plated (raw) face provides more consistent spin numbers. But this incidental increase isn’t significant enough to change our minds that rust does not add spin.
3. RUST CREATES FRICTION
This is a fact. Now, does that friction positively or negatively affect spin performance off a wedge?
For the majority, it most likely affects spin negatively. Rust is dense enough to inhibit the purpose of grooves. Grooves are made to have a specific geometry that enhances spin. Furthermore, many wedges utilize face textures to assist with spin consistency, e.g., micro-ribs, micro-grooves or face blasts.
Rust has the potential to negate all of the positive features of a wedge, especially over time. Additionally, grooves are designed to tight specifications. Rust is unpredictable and most likely will compromise those precise specifications.
The worst scenario is a wedge that isn’t suppose to rust. Sure, it creates friction but that friction probably negatively impacts the performance features of the wedge, specifically the grooves. At this point, it is best to replace your wedges – pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, or lob wedge.
Much of the hoopla surrounding rusty golf wedges originates from PGA TOUR professionals. But not because of increased spin. Rust reduces glare.
There are plenty of golfers who dislike plated, shiny chrome finishes, especially on wedges. So a wedge with rust provides some sort of comforting aesthetic appeal to that segment. Plus, a rusty look can be trendy. If that matters to you, so be it.
As for actual performance, it does not add anything of value. For us, rust isn’t going to enhance the performance of a wedge, especially in the long run. If anything, it’ll likely be detrimental to the performance of the grooves. You don’t want that.
Sure, we witnessed some anomalies. That is a part of capturing data and performing lab tests. However, these anomalies aren’t enough to definitively to change the reality that rust does NOT add spin.
In the end, you may like the aesthetics of rust. However, eventually, it’ll do more harm than good.
*We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.
David4 weeks ago
Thanks for the test! Was the non-rusted wedge in your test friction-free on the face, other than the primary grooves? That would be a more meaningful test. A wedge without texture from face milling or micro grooves, vs. rusted vs. micro grooves and face milling. I thought rusting was introduced years ago to create friction, when most wedges were smooth on the face, prior to micro-milling. Today seems more of a nostalgia thing.
Dan Cohen4 weeks ago
I just think raw wedges look bad – very bad. I do get the glare thing, though. But you can achieve that with a matte or satin finish. Or just a darker finish Hopefully this raw fad will end soon before Cleveland does it to their CBX wedges.
Ben Hoagie4 weeks ago
is it true if you don’t use it, you lose it?
Ian1 month ago
Show more data, these articles are so boring without showing the data or the shot information from GCQuad or Trackman. Yes you gave the average spin numbers of each club finish. Show us more than that.
mackdaddy91 month ago
I play the raw TM MD3 TW grind because they work better than the chrome when it is wet from the dew.
C3 weeks ago
This is the correct reply.
Big Guy1 month ago
I wonder if the raw trend began as a result of the custom grinds Tour Pros can often put on their wedges? A plated wedge would look horrible for manufacturers if the trailing edge was taken off? Dunno about stampings on the chrome either.
Just a thought I have long had..
James C3 weeks ago
The answer to your question is yes. Vokey Wedgeworks custom grinds are only in raw finish for the same reason.
The other reason is that in the past, the finish softened the groove pattern so pros wanted raw to have grooves that are right at the limit. That isn’t the case anymore – manufacturers make the grooves sharper than legal & then the finish softens them up. A new Chrome wedge that is stripped to raw will have illegal grooves.
John R1 month ago
The idea of a rusted surface enhancing performance never made sense to me. The manufacturers invest large amounts of money in milling and micro machining their wedges and then say “they’re better when you ruin all that precision manufacturing”. If that was the case they would come pre-rusted and there’d be no need for all that mill work.
Do you let your 9 iron rust? No, because performance is dependent on maintaining the integrity of the face. That’s why we clean our clubs.
Here’s a thought – maybe golfers are just gullible….
Michael Chou1 month ago
The clean wedge looks new. Which I would expect to have great spin. The real question is, does a used rusty face have more spin than a used clean face?
Phillip Bishop1 month ago
Excellent question. Perhaps, we’ll conduct this lab in the future! Thank you for the thought, Michael!
W1 month ago
That’s not quantifiable as precisely – because how are you measuring the amount of wear consistency??? You would have to hit both clubs exactly the same way in the exact same spot exactly the same number of times to create the same exact wear, and then measure it. But that’s also allowing for one club to be “rusted” but how do you get that rust consistency? Obviously if you “wash” it to get the dirt out, but not dry it. you’re still washing the face off of most of the dirt, affecting how it rusts and how quickly and by how much. If you used a “brush” or one of them gouge tools, you could adversely affect the groove sharpness compared to the clean one that you just wash normally with a towel to dry off.
How many shots after would be a reasonable number? Probably around after about 10,000 shots, just a guesstimate.
It’s not properly quantifiable. That’s they the rust experience stories started in the first place. Did anybody measure how the grooves were mangled in that rusty wedge from use, that made the edges funky? No.
Cody1 month ago
I think an important question is whether or not a wedge with WORN grooves (say at 50% life left in the face) is any different than a similarly WORN wedge with a rusty face.
I don’t doubt that fresh grooves on a new wedge would spin more/more consistently than a rusty wedge, but I wonder if the rusted wedge would retain better spin characteristics over the lifetime of the club. May not matter as much for pros or highly competitive players who are replacing clubs every handful of rounds, but might be something the average golfer would consider given how much wedges have increased in price the last handful of years.
Anyway, love the testing!
Phillip Bishop1 month ago
Similar question as Michael above – But yes, it does beg the question if worn grooves spin more than worn, rusty grooves. It’s intriguing since you have an additional variable with rust potentially being built up + worn grooves. Great thought.
Cody1 month ago
Yep- saw Michael’s comment pop up after I submitted.
I’m honestly not sure if the results will skew (significantly) in either direction, but would just be a fun test for the future. Now good luck on trying to get 2 wedges similarly worn enough for comparison!
Diego1 month ago
You should add a rusty wedge that the grooves are machined after the rust
Brian1 month ago
If rusted club faces do not , in general, increase spin. Does a raw face, in comparison, create more spin than a normal plated face? Would it be because the grooves are fully functional and not distorted by rust, making them ineffective?
Phillip Bishop1 month ago
Hi Brian, in our Most Wanted Testing, we have mix of plated and un-plated wedges. When moisture is introduce, we generally see un-plated wedges performing relatively well versus plated. For normal conditions, it is difficult to say.
Check out Tony’s in depth answers here -https://mygolfspy.com/askmygolfspy-does-rust-add-spin/
Bob Cooper1 month ago
I believe that rust on a unplated wedge with clean grooves provide a litlle more spin, but more inportant is the softer feel from not have a plated head.
Phillip Bishop1 month ago
Softer feel is definitely a subjective perception associated with raw and/or rusty wedges.
George1 month ago
Very nice comparison article. I’m not any type of engineer, but to me, rust is rust and if left as is it will begin to eat away at the grooves. For Tour players this is not an issue as they can replace their wedges every week for free if they choose. I have the TM High Toe wedges and I clean those after every round and use a knife oil to wipe them down. Very light oil and wipes off easily prior to playing with zero residual. But that’s me and everyone has their own thoughts and habits! 🙂
Phillip Bishop1 month ago
Everyone does have their own thoughts and habits. But, not everyone is diligent with consistently cleaning their clubs. Taking that extra step can go a long way. Thanks for the input!
Donald Pat Graham Jr1 month ago
I agree with your test results. However I have a nice gc3 setup, I know yours is better. When I tested Cleveland, vokey, Callaway and some others I seen exactly what you seen. However Mizuno t22 raw was typically 5 percent higher and when wet even more..