The grips on your woods and irons wear out and get replaced, but most of us stay loyal to one brand and style even as we strip off the old, slick, worn ones and replace ’em. All well and good, but at least put your Harry Vardon on a Golf Pride VDR, new for 2011.
If it isn’t these VDRs, you should probably be scheduling regrip anyway. Heat, cold, atmospheric ozone and the sweat, dirt and oil from your hands naturally degrade the materials of any grip, from old leather to the most modern rubber compounds. And the traction of a slightly tacky fresh grip is more important than one might think. It allows one to hold the club more lightly instead of a death-clench, a basic in good swing mechanics.
There are several excellent brands on the market. On one set of clubs I have slightly oversized Winn grips, and on another regulation size Lamkin. Both are rubber, which I prefer to grips with cord. But quietly and without much fanfare, the grip business is in the midst of a revolution, offering a variety of thicknesses to fit different sized hands and a variety of colors. “Color is really big now,” says Marin Country Club Head Pro Shawn McEntee. “There’s probably not a college golf team out there that doesn’t have grips with the school’s colors.”
Ironically, when Golf Digest put out its 2011 Hot List, there was not a mention of grips, which is odd since the grip might just be the most important piece of a club, since it’s the only thing you’re touching during a shot. The same with Sport’s Illustrated’s recent special issue on golf, in which the magazine allowed manufactures to tout their new clubs and essentially rate the gear themselves.
“I’ve seen a couple of stories mentioning grips, but we just don’t seem to get much attention,” observes Pat Henk, a Golf Pride territory sales manager. “Sure, a grip is just a grip. But when you get into the details, the manufacturers use different kinds of materials, including polyurethane, rubber and types of cord.”
It’s clear that pros care about their grips are quite fussy about it. Here’s a link to that same Sport’s Illustrated issue, and a piece that includes a riff on Bubba Watson, who can tell if the thin wraps under his grip is one more than he prefers. http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,2045794,00.html#ixzz1CxxWGzhT. It has also sparked a lively discussion our Gear Effect Golf forum.
While it’s recommended that one re-grip clubs either annually or every 40 rounds, stretching it out for two seasons or more is common. Some players need it done more often. But the grip will slowly lose some of its feel before becomes hard and slick, which is inevitable. With my clubs the degradation seems to happen almost overnight, when all grips in the set suddenly just doesn’t feel right. But I have a friend who hasn’t changed them in a decade. He gets by, but would probably see an improvement in his game with a new set.
Of course, the life of a grip can be prolonged by routinely cleaning it with mild dishwashing soap and either a soft abrasive pad or a simple washcloth. It should then be thoroughly rinsed in warm water and carefully towel dried. Only certified anal-retentive personality types take such care of grips. The thing is, fresh grips can make your clubs feel like new.
For this year’s changeover, I’m leaning toward the new Golf Pride VDRs. Number one in grips on the PGA Tour, Golf Pride offers about 30 different models. The VDR features “triple-texture technology, in that there are three different depths of surface texture, which induces a silky feel. Made of a shock-reducing rubber, these grips are also easier on the hands and especially the wrists, during those exceptionally rare times when a ball is miss-hit. Indeed.
In any event, depending on the brand and model chosen, and whether you do it yourself or have it done at a retail store or pro shop, a full set can cost between $75 and $130. (Here’s a good regrip how-to video from the Jim McLean Golf School.) Be sure all 14 clubs get the treatment, and in particular the putter, the most used and most important one in the bag. And take advantage of the fact that grips now come in several diameters to best fit the size of your hand, preferences in feel, from undersized to regular, mid-sized and even jumbo. Such different can have a decided influence on the flight of your shots.
Part I of the article is posted on my web site.