Keeping your golf clubs clean is less about appearances, and more about making sure they perform as intended.

It’s most important to keep the clubface grooves free of dirt and debris and to make sure your grips remain soft and tacky.

The grooves are designed to grab the ball’s surface and impart backspin, so anything that gets lodged in the grooves prevents the grooves from working properly. When you take a divot, grass and dirt stick in the grooves. When the course is wet from dew, rain or irrigation, water left on the clubface gets between club and ball, reducing spin and causing unpredictable results.

It’s a good idea to carry a small wire brush to clean the grooves of your irons during play; a brush with nylon bristles is best for woods and hybrids. You can buy brushes that clip right to your golf bag for just a few bucks. Wipe your clubheads dry any time they get wet.

As for your grips, keep a towel handy to wipe them down on hot or wet days. Grip slippage during the swing can create disastrous results. You may notice your grips getting worn down or slick after several rounds and practice sessions. Wash them with regular dish soap and water, scrubbing the grips thoroughly with a rag or rough sponge. Be sure to rinse and dry each grip well to remove all the soap.

Once your grips have been washed, you’ll notice much of the original texture and tackiness has been restored. It’s best to replace the grips occasionally, perhaps after 30-40 combined rounds and practice sessions. Clean them regularly and you’ll extend the life of your grips.