Dr. Goldline is not a real doctor, the moniker is used purely for entertainment value. The views expressed here are entirely those of the author and not of management or any other curler.
Question: Dr. Goldline, how often should I replace my curling brush head?
Any sweeper would relish the opportunity to sweep his/her skip’s rock to the button to score the winning point in a game but a dirty brush head could ruin that opportunity! Grasshopper, make sure your brush head is clean when you are out on the ice!
As curlers we all know that sweeping is key in cleaning the ice surface and helping a rock get closer to its intended destination. If we put aside the cleanliness of the ice, which is largely out of your control, there are three primary factors that impact the expected life of a brush head: position, pressure and playing frequency.
Front end players, our leads and seconds, do a lot more sweeping than those playing vice or skip, so if you play this position you will need to replace your brush head more frequently.
Do you brush really hard and apply a lot of pressure when you sweep, or would your sweeping action qualify more as a gentle dusting of the ice? The higher the intensity of your sweeping, the greater the wear and tear on your brush head.
The final element in the equation is the number of games you play over the course of a week or month: the once-a-week recreational curler will definitely not need to replace brush heads as frequently as the individual who curls 3-4 (or more) times per week.
How do you assess that brush pad?
The first step is simply to look at it. How dirty is the surface? The sides of the head will generally show the original colour of the pad so compare that to the colour of the pad on the brushing surface.
The second step – and to me this is the more important one - is to run my fingers over the surface of the brush head. Is it smooth as silk? That might be a good thing if you were looking for a new blouse or silk tie, but a clean brush head should have some texture to it. Normally the areas which feel very smooth will appear to be a bit shiny, smooth and shiny likely means it is time to invest in a new brush head.
If you are using Goldline’s Norway pad, similar guidelines apply. It is time to replace the head when the fabric gets shiny or when the ridges on the pad are worn down to the point that the threading is starting to wear.
There are no hard and fast rules on this but I think that for most club curlers it is worth investing in a new broom head at least once per season at the start of the season. And for those playing more frequently or who are very effective at sweeping, a mid-season replacement may very well be in order.
Once you’ve attached a new head to your brush, take care of it the best you can during the season. If you are using a nylon pad, make use of the brushes that are normally provided in the ice shed and clean off the head frequently during a game (oh, and by the way, make sure to do your cleaning away from the ice surface!). Should you be using a Norway pad, avoid the brushes - just clean the surface of the pad using the palm of your glove, or by gently running the brush against the carpet.