Can You Play With a Dented Driver? Facts and Fixes

By Todd Mrowice

Graeme McDowell checking driver for damage

Putting a dent in your driver is beyond frustrating, but can you play with the club after you've dinged it up? Get the facts on what's allowed along with how a dent affects your club. In addition, learn about your options once you have a dent or sky mark on your driver head.

We've all been there, and whether intentional or not, damage happens to golf clubs. Denting your driver is among the worst offenses and it can happen on an errant shot or simply by happenstance, like if your bag comes loose from the golf cart.

USGA Rule on Damaged Clubs

A rules adjustment by the USGA in 2019 details that; "A player is allowed to keep using and/or to repair any club damaged during the round, no matter what the damage and even if the player damaged it in anger."

It's worth noting, however, that the USGA prohibits replacing damaged golf clubs during a round unless the damage was caused by an outside entity. For example, if a member of the gallery were to snap Dustin Johnson's driver in half, Johnson could replace the club mid-round. If Johnson were the snapper, it could not be replaced.

Can You Fix a Dented Driver?

Now that we know the USGA allows us to play with a damaged golf club, such as a dented driver, can it be fixed? The short answer is, no. Truthfully, the process to get a dent out of a driver in the crown or sole requires measures that would further damage the golf club. This involves attempts at heating the clubhead and using precise tools that the club's manufacturer, most likely, would not attempt.

Your Options

It might seem bleak, but it's good to know what options you have once you've put a dent in your driver's head.

Live With it

As unsightly as it may be, learning to live with the dent in your driver is the path of least resistance. Depending on how large the dent is, you can look into refinishing the driver into a darker color so it's not as noticeable.

Contact the Manufacturer

The likely answer you'll get from a club manufacturer such as TaylorMade or Callaway is that they don't replace driver heads that have been dented. Some might offer the option of sending it in for repair, but with fewer full titanium drivers being produced it's not as common. Still, contacting the manufacturer might open a different avenue such as purchasing a refurbished replacement directly from the company.

Replacement

Replacement is an unwanted result, especially when you consider how expensive drivers are today. Thankfully, with modern driver technology, you only have to replace the head of the driver if it's an adjustable model. You can find components such as driver heads by calling the manufacturer, visiting your local golf retailer, or checking sites such as eBay.

The Dent Affect

Along this blemished journey, you might be wondering just how much the dent in your driver's head affects its ability to perform on the golf course. The answer is that it depends on the size and location of the dent.

If the dent is smaller (dime size) and located on the crown or sole of the driver, you likely won't see a change in its performance.

However, if the dent is larger (quarter size) it can affect the club's center of gravity or it can cause the head to lay open or closed if it's on the sole.

If the dent is located anywhere on the face of the driver you will see your tee shots affected in both distance and accuracy.

Carbon Cracks

Carbon has become a preferred material among club manufacturers. For drivers, carbon makes the club lighter so the player can produce faster swing speeds, ball speeds, and ultimately achieve more distance. Carbon, however, cracks as opposed to dents. If you crack the carbon on a driver, there's not much of a question as you will have to replace it entirely.

Sky Marks and How to Fix

A sky mark on your driver's head is less severe than a dent. Sky marks are blemishes that occur when you hit too far underneath the golf ball and it comes into contact with the crown. Sky marks can be ugly, but there is a method of getting rid of them, almost entirely.

  1. Clean the driver head with some warm water and a small amount of his soap combined in a bowl.
  2. Take a soft, microfiber cloth and dip it into some clean water followed by a small amount of toothpaste.
  3. Work the cloth in circular motions on the mark. It may take a few minutes and some additional toothpaste, but you should see most of the mark disappear.
  4. Take a clean microfiber cloth, dip it in warm water, and wipe away the excess.

It's important to note that this process will remove the marking, but most likely not any deep scratches.

Conclusion

If you find yourself with a dented driver head it's unfortunate to know that you don't have a ton of options. With golf club companies releasing new models every 12 to 18 months, it could be your excuse to purchase the latest and greatest technology.

About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. He has been writing about golf for over 10 years including a long tenure at GOLFChicago Magazine. Todd has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours.