Golf is a game of nuance. We analyze each phase of the swing, from the position of our feet to the concluding angle of thz club face. The improvements we can see from small adjustments and the experimentation with these changes is part of the fascination of the sport. In spite of this tradition of close scrutiny, many golfers overlook the importance of their club grips. This is ironic because we so often dissect how we place our hands on the grip that it is surprising that something we look at so often is almost invisible to us. Using the right grips for your game and play environment can make a substantial improvement in the way you play golf so perhaps it’s time to consider the humble, hard-working grip.
What’s in a Grip?
You and your club grip are intimate; in golf, your only physical connection to your equipment is to the grip. You practice your stance and swing for hours untold, but the best form in the world can not compensate for malfunctioning equipment. Why let a roll of sticky tape interfere with your game?
Of course the actual purpose of the grip is to enable you to hold onto the club when you swing without pitching it out into the stratosphere, but modern golf has progressed beyond that basic, prosaic role. Modern manufacturing and production has risen to the challenge of creating grips for nearly all conditions and tastes so you can find a grip for your hands, your preferences and your playing conditions.
How often should you Replace your Grips?
If you read a dozen articles on grips, you will probably receive a dozen recommendations for when to replace your grips; there is no rule. When you see damage, it is clearly time to replace, but what other factors contribute to the decision?
How often you golf is important; the more often you golf, the more frequently you need to re-grip. Some professional players admit to replacing their grips two or three times in a year; it is unlikely that you play that hard, that often, and under such variable conditions, but it is useful to know that professionals acknowledge the importance of grips.
In addition to how often you golf is your playing conditions. If you play only when the weather is perfect, free from rain, and the course is in prime condition, your grips should last for two or three years of regular play. If you play often, anytime and anywhere, traveling with your clubs for any chance of a game in defiance of wind, rain and scorching heat, your grips are taking a beating and you probably need to replace them every year or year and a half.
Selecting Grips: More than Just Size
Now you’re convinced of the importance of replacing your grip, you run out to the store and grab the prettiest box of grips available, right? That’s one approach, but not the one calculated to ensure you get the most out of your investment. You may want to begin the process by understanding your grip on your clubs without any changes. If you wear gloves, put them on; take out your clubs; and play with your grip; look at how far your fingers extend around the shaft; open and close your hands and feel how tacky, soft or stiff the club grip is. This is an exercise to acquaint you with your current grip by having you focus on it without the distraction of the game.
Now that you have some knowledge of your grip, your best next step is to seek the input of an expert. There is such a vast variety of grips that visiting a place with an on-site expert, where you can see and feel the grips is the best way to replace your grips. Use the pro to examine and characterize your grip, understand how and where you play and select some models for you to try. When you get to the testing phase, use that grip focus to discover which grip is your grip. The technology is such that any new grip will enable you to hold the club without slipping; the art of the selection is in finding a grip you like.
A Cover for Every Pot
Men, women and juniors can find grips that meet their size, performance and even artistic requirements. Club shafts come in two sizes (ok, bubble shaft clubs are the exception, but they have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur) and the same sized grip fits both shaft sizes by using tape to pad the grip interior for the larger shaft.
- Grip Size There are four basic golf grip sizes: Undersize, Standard, Midsize and Oversize; they are designed to match your hand size. Some shops feature fitting machines that electronically measure your hand and tell your size. Keep in mind that selecting a grip is art and science. If the machine or pro tells you that your grip size is standard, but the Midsize feels better, you may want to go with your gut; the hand size measure is just another factor to include in your decision.
- Round or Ribbed Your next choice is round or ribbed. Most Americans use round grips, but there is no reliable information indicating that round or ribbed performs better; it’s a matter of personal preference. The “rib” referenced in ribbed grips is a small raised spine used to assist the golfer with hand positioning; most manufacturers produce their grips in round and ribbed, so having a preference does not eliminate choices.
- Corded or Wrapped Most grips are rubber these days, so you won’t have to select material. Corded grips have a firm inner core that some golfers find uncomfortable though it can contribute to an improved grip in wet conditions; wrapped grips have and attractive retro appearance and provide a soft, tacky grip. You may find corded and wrapped in light weight models.
- Firm or Soft The pros generally prefer firm grips that they feel provides better control; new golfers and senior golfers often prefer softer grips which tend to sacrifice a little in control for improved comfort.
- Putters Putter grips are a different category, though your major decision is firm or soft; you may feel a slight decrease in control with the softer grip.
Investment Your budget may not be of least importance when selecting grips, but it is presented last because it is less complex than the measurement and taste parameters. Once you spend between three and 8 dollars for each club, someone has to perform the actual re-gripping. Having the pro do this can cost 100$ for a set and handy types prefer to do their own re-gripping, but either way, be sure to include it in your budget.
You already know that there are too many factors to consider in grip selection for us to tell you which grips to purchase, but here are a few well-reviewed grips in different price ranges to consider:
- The Golf Pride VDR Golf Grips – Though a more expensive model, these grips are well-reviewed for normal to wet conditions.
- The Avon Evolution EV1 Grips – An economical choice for the golfer who prefers a tacky grip but good performance in all weather; fashion forward colors available.
- The Lamkin R.E.L. ACE 3GEN lands in the middle price range, with an offering of bright neons and a comfortable, responsive grip for all season comfort and very good longevity.
Right to the Top of the Leader Board
Though your new grips may not make a Bubba Watson of you, they may well shave a few strokes off your score and that’s what we try to do each season.