Grip Month: Counterbalancing key behind Boccieri grip
Monday, January 20, 2014
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In 2003, mechanical engineer Steve Boccieri and his wife, Sandy, started building a business with one major design theme: Placing heavy counterweights in the grip end of the shaft in putters, drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and irons.
The best-known product from Boccieri Golf is the Heavy Putter, which was created 10 years ago. He later added full-swing clubs.
And now, following the same principle, Boccieri is selling a grip called the Secret Grip. It, too, is heavy – 92 grams overall, which is almost twice the weight of a standard golf grip. The Secret Grip was first seen at the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show, although it took Boccieri a year to bring it to market.
The official introduction of the grip took place at the 2013 PGA Show in late January, and this time Boccieri had a marketing ally. After lengthy discussions and testing, Jack Nicklaus signed on as a spokesman and endorsement partner for the Secret Grip.
Of his pairing with Nicklaus, Boccieri said: "He is intimately familiar with the backweighting (counterbalancing) concept, and he played his best golf with clubs that were backweighted.”
This is true. Jack Wullkotte, who for decades has crafted and assembled all the golf clubs used by Nicklaus, would place lead in the Dynamic steel shafts. This was done for increased accuracy.
“(Without backweighting) I seemed to hook the ball a lot,” Nicklaus explained. “I seemed to be too fast. But then when I went to an X shaft – I used an S shaft – I had to hit it too hard and I didn’t like that. I lost my timing. When I backweighted the club, it seemed to slow my hands down.
“We hope it will work for a lot of people. From my experience, I always felt it slowed my hands down and thus I could play a softer shaft and I got more feel with it.”
With modern golf clubs, particularly those with graphite shafts, the value of counterbalancing seems to remain a matter of feel. Some say that counterbalancing, which raises the balance point of a golf club, can provide additional distance. Others, like Nicklaus, focus more on accuracy. (Ping G20 and G25 drivers, for example, both are counterbalanced with stock shafts that place more weight in the grip end.)
The Secret Grip, with a tungsten insert in the butt cap of the grip, effectively serves as a counterbalance.
Instructor Rick Smith, a friend of Boccieri's, tried to put it all in perspective: “All that weight will prevent you from flipping your hands around. I love the counterbalancing concept in wedges. It makes the wedges feel very solid.… It cuts down on excessive movement with the hands.”
The Secret Grip is expensive – $16.95 – although the purchase of a dozen grips will include a 13th grip at no charge.
Despite Boccieri’s current preoccupation with the Secret Grip, there appears to be renewed interest in his Heavy Putter. This is because Boccieri’s counterweight concept is seen as an alternative to belly putting. The theory goes like this: The weight under the grip creates a fulcrum for the putter and helps stabilize the club throughout the stroke. Furthermore, it lightens the swingweight so the putter doesn’t feel like a sledgehammer.
“I always knew I could use my engineering background to help me make better golf clubs, and that’s what I see happening," Boccieri said. "The Secret Grip is the latest chapter in this story.”