Once upon a time, most golf grips were leather.
Some still are.
PGA Tour players Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and Jarrod Lyle use leather grips from The Grip Master. These three golfers are Australian, and The Grip Master is an Australian company. It makes sense.
If Scott Kim has his way, The Grip Master will continue to gain a foothold in the United States. Kim, president of The Grip Master USA, is an evangelist for leather grips.
Yes, we’re talking about leather from livestock. But we’re also talking about other leathers — ostrich, white tail deer, kangeroo, lizard, land snake, sea snake, sting ray and salt water crocodile, for example.
It must be stressed that some golfers are not comfortable using leather, which comes from animals, although the reality is that most animal skins for leather golf grips become available as a byproduct of other industries. The largest by far is the beef industry.
The Grip Master was founded by the McConchie family, which perfected a method of producing slip-on leather golf grips. Why leather? Here are some of the reasons that are commonly listed: It exhibits long-lasting traction, it has a particular feel that appeals to many golfers and the grips generally can be used without replacement for two and a half to three and a half years.
Leather grips are expensive, but the cost is mitigated by their longevity. Golfers can expect to pay $24.95 and up for an individual grip to be installed on a club.
“There is nothing like leather,” Kim said. “It has a very special feel. At this point, The Grip Master has grown tremendously on the European Tour and Asian Tour, and we are optimistic about other tours as well.”
Why the European and Asian tours?
“They play in more humid conditions, and they experience unpredictable and even harsh weather,” Kim observed. “Leather is perfect for all that.”
“I think it’s the best grip,” Kim said. “It performs in good weather, and it performs in bad weather. All our grips are weather treated, so golfers can use them with confidence no matter what it’s like outside.”
In the old days — before rubber and polyurethane golf grips — leather grips were installed by wrapping a long, thin piece of leather around an underlisting, or cushion-like base. It was a time-consuming process.
The slip-on process, though, makes The Grip Master as easy to install as any other grip. The Grip Master also sells a “Tour Laced” leather putting grip that is available on several putter brands.
“All our grips are handmade,” Kim said, “from picking out the hides to finishing the grips.”
The grips are sold in all the normal sizes — with many standard, oversized and undersized variations.
The most widely used leather grips, made of cowhide, weigh 49 to 50 grams. This is the same as the standard weight for most rubber grips. Ogilvy uses kangeroo leather grips, which weigh just over 40 grams apiece.
Courtesy of Kim, here is the key to caring for The Grip Master grips: Do not clean them with soap and water or other commercial leather cleaners.
“Leather is from livestock that has pores on its own,” Kim said. “When you plug that up, it will take out the special ingredients we use to increase tackiness. The best way to clean them is to wipe them down with a wet, damp towel. There is no problem with dampness.”
Leather golf grips are something of a specialty item, but they continue to hold a large attraction for some golfers around the world.