In many of the colder parts of the country, this is the time of year when golfers start thinking about pulling the clubs out of the closet and hitting the range to dust off the winter’s rust. Golf Digest just published its “Hot List” and the equipment industry is launching a new product cycle at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in late January, all of which tempts players to consider buying new gear. But for a lot of folks the economy still sucks, forcing us to stick with what’s already in the bag.
At the very least, though, it’s time to spend a Ben Franklin on a new set of grips.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
There are several excellent brands. 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.
For this year’s changeover, I’m leaning toward one of Golf Pride’s newest products for 2011, the VDR. 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.
Golf Pride’s territorial rep is coming to my course in early February: More on grips in an update after his visit.