There is a never-ending assembly line of worn grips being sliced off clubs and new grips being installed inside nearly every PGA Tour van.
The process looks therapeutic for the technicians who travel from one event to another. They carry on conversations as razor blades zip through the colorful rubber and double-sided tape is stretched, torn and applied. Solvent flows and the new grips slide into place. Finish one, start another.
Pros never compete with old, slippery grips. And while pros get their grips for free, it’s an easy way for any golfer to ensure that clubs always feel like new.
Washing grips with soap and water after a round can re-activate the adhesive properties in the rubber and bring some of the performance back to life, but the rule of thumb is to replace old grips once a year or after every 40 rounds. But for players who practice a lot, the tackiness of grips can deteriorate more quickly.
An important consideration when shopping for grips: find the ideal size.
“Size, and sizing for grips, is 50 percent science and 50 percent feel,” said Kerri Kauffman, gripmaker Lamkin’s senior director of marketing. “The science part is really your hand measurement. Your longest finger should just barely be touching the thumb side of your palm, but there certainly are many instances when people are simply more comfortable playing with a midsize or an oversize grip.”
For example, a player who has arthritis might try a larger grip, and a golfer who has always used a slightly smaller grip may choose to stick with the familiar feel.
Jonathan Neal, Golf Pride’s global marketing manager, said about 45 percent of the aftermarket grips his company sells are not standard size. They are either mid-size, jumbo or under-size.
“We have also found, through working with our OEM partners, that as people are getting custom-fit for clubs, about 85 percent of them will wind up putting on a standard size grip,” he said. “So many people are getting custom-fit for their clubs but are playing with the wrong size grip.”
Everyone’s swing is unique, but Kauffman said that going with a grip size that is too small often leads to excessive hand action at the bottom of the swing and pulling the ball left (for a right-hander). Small grips also cause many players to hold the club too tightly. Opting for a grip that is too large can encourage a lighter grip pressure, which is good, but it can inhibit the necessary hinging and unhinging in the wrists.
Some grips are designed to provide extra cushioning, while others are meant to absorb moisture and excel in humid and wet conditions. Grips are available in every color of the rainbow, but traditionalists often stick with black.
The actual job of regripping a golf club is not difficult with the right tools. This video, produced by Golf Pride, shows how to do it:
Some players on the PGA Tour have extra tape applied under the bottom hand of their grips to reduce the degree of taper. Both Kauffman and Neal said there is a trend in full-swing grips without taper, and grips such as Lamkin’s Justin Rose Spec R.E.L. Ace and Golf Pride’s MCC Plus 4 target that market.
But the best trend to follow would be the pros’ long-established trend of paying attention to grips in the first place.