Call me an unabashed ‘homer’ when talking about Michigan-based golf companies. Especially, low-key yet highly successful ones like SuperStroke Golf located in Wixom.
“What’s SuperStroke?” asked someone apparently living with the wolves on Isle Royale.
It’s the putter grip company that became a game changer in the industry for its oversized and non-tapered style. Originally named Tiger Shark Golf, SuperStroke was the brainchild of CEO Dean Dingman who moved the Atlanta-based company to Wixom while recruiting a host of talented and golf-savvy colleagues like Ian Zubkoff, the Executive Vice-President of Sales.
With over 30 years of golf business experience, Zubkoff led the sales focus for SuperStroke, helping it to obtain an astounding 85% market share for consumers buying putter grips.
When speaking with Zubkoff recently, I shared that first story I wrote on the company was ten years ago when Jason Dufner won the PGA Championship at Oak Hill using an oversized SuperStroke grip. Fast forward a decade and hardly a week doesn’t go by when another Tour player wins with a SuperStroke. In the past few weeks that includes Nick Taylor (“O Canada!”), Emiliano Grillo and Wyndham Clark. In 2022, there were 50 winners using SuperStroke grips across the various Tours.
Zubkoff says Tour players are one of the keys to the company’s success. “We’re a Tour-driven company. We make our decisions based on Tour player feedback.” Zubkoff explains that when a new grip is introduced to a player it’s a reflection of prior feedback and so the player buy-in is easier.
“Tour pros are savants in terms of their feel,” says Zubkoff, “and they can pick up the differences in putter weights by a mere gram or two. Their sense of feel is insane.”
Bolstered by patents, SuperStroke made its mark with oversized, non-tapered grips but its success is more than just than one particular grip. “What was missing in the grip category was variety,” says Zubkoff who’s one of the few employees not based in Michigan. (He lives in Scottsdale but travels to Wixom regularly.)
“In the old days, if players weren’t happy with their putters, they might throw it in a lake and buy a new one. Changing a grip wasn’t in their minds. SuperStroke changed that thinking.”
Today, SuperStroke features dozens of models including thin, moderate, oversized and tapered models in all sorts of colors. “We’re not just an oversized grip company,” says Zubkoff. On top of that, it also offers a CounterCore weight for its line of grips. Offered in 25, 50 or 75 grams, these weights are easily screwed into the end of the grip with an included wrench.
With these weights, golfers now have even more options for fine-tuning their putters.
Zubkoff says roughly 50% of Tour players add to or adjust the weight of their putter grips. Now SuperStroke allows consumers to do the same and they don’t have to make an appointment with a Tour equipment van.
“Between the various types of putters and the options for CounterCore weights, golfers have something like 160 ways to change their putters.”
That last phrase could be as catchy as Paul Simon’s song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
On the heels of its widely adopted Zenergy grips, what’s next for SuperStroke? Not content with just putter grips, the company is dipping its toes in grips for the rest of the bag. In fact, Ryan Brehm uses all SuperStroke grips on his clubs as does Jordan Spieth.
“We’re a small gorilla in that grip category but we’re growing,” says Zubkoff.
Nice to know this small gorilla is a native of Michigan.
images courtesy of Superstroke Golf