How grips can make a difference

Why a change can have you playing at your best

Bob Warters's picture
Wed, 28 Aug 2002

How grips can make a difference

Your grip on the club can effect the way you strike the ball so it’s a key part of your equipment.

When I started playing, the grips on my clubs were of a poor quality compound rubber and if left in the boot of the car, would quickly get brittle and shiny. However, I soon discovered, as grips became more varied in texture, that if I looked after them they would repay me with more consistency in my strike and be less inclined to slip at the top of the backswing when my grip - indeed everyone's - is at its weakest.

Now, almost every time I play I clean my grips with soapy water and dry them off so they will feel soft and tacky and give me every chance of playing to my potential.

However, even the most dilligent golfer will find that every year to 18 months they will have to replace their grips because they get worn because of the firm hold we tend to take of them - and now, towards the end of the season is probably the best time to get the job done properly.

I have discovered that almost one third of Britain and Europe’s golfers compromise their scores because they never change their golf grips, that is according the the latest research by Sports Marketing Surveys.

They interviewed nearly a thousand golfers and found that more than one in three never even considered changing the grips on their often-expensive clubs. And half of those asked never changed the grip on their putters, even though it’s the most used club in the bag.

One of the reasons why some golfers reach single figures is because in this category they are more likely to change the handles on their clubs than high handicappers. They are also much more likely to have their grips custom fitted. It’s no good having jumbo grips if your hands are small, neither is it much use with thin grips if your hands are large with fingers the size of Lincolnshire sausages!

"There are a lot of golfers out there who still don’t understand that worn grips can be detrimental to their golf game," says Paul Steels, director of operations for Eaton, the makers of the No.1 Golf Pride grips.

"When your grips get old, they get shiny and slippery. That means you have to hold on tighter, tensing chest and arm muscles. Inevitably the result is a tight, wooden swing." We recommend that, if you play once or twice a week, you should change your grips every 12 to 18 months. If you practice a lot, you might even want to change them more frequently."

I checked with my local pro and for £40 they will put a complete set of grips on your clubs, tailor-made to your own specification and hand size.

It sounds to me that if you’re prepared to spend £500 on a set of customized clubs to suit your swing, forty quid is a small price to pay to ensure they fit your hands, too.

Just for the record, here’s a few interesting stats the survey discovered:

*18% of British golfers change driver and iron grips every one to two years, while 8-10% changed driver and iron grips at least once a year.

* The perception that the average grip lasts over four years years is wide of the mark manufacturers recommend.

* Despite the lack of willingness to change, 63% of regular golfers believe the correct grip size was either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to golf performance. The figure increased to 76% for single figure golfers.

Says Steels: "It shows we still have a lot to do when it comes to getting the public to understand how important good grips are, related to good performance. Low handicappers are getting the message but we’re not sure about the rest."