Changing Grips - Part One

The life of a professional club maker can be rewarding. Custom fitting a golfer for a new set of irons, specialist wedges, woods and a driver, then seeing the client wield them effectively out on the "green stuff" gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Sometimes though, it is the most basic, everyday job that makes the difference and often creates a smile.

That Feels Much Better

Feel is most important when it comes to golf. Our hands and fingers are the only part of our body directly in contact with the club, or at least we hope, so a good fit with a comfortable surface must be a high priority when personalising clubs.

Replacing old, dried out and battle-hardened grips for new ones can have an immediate affect on a player's ability to sense what is happening with their clubs. Changing the size of grip can also have a marked affect on a player's relationship with a club. Mentally and physically a better grip is a plus for confidence and feel.

Re-gripping your own clubs is not rocket science and like most things, these skills once learned, are relatively simple to implement.

Grip Types

The last decade has seen a vast increase in the number of grip types available to the market. We have come a long way since leather grips were the only option. The main grip types are as follows (Fig 1):

Rubber

These range from standard duty grips, through to extra soft, shock absorbing grips. Standard grips are long lasting and what most players will find on a new set of clubs. Soft rubber grips are becoming more common as people discover how comfortable they are. These wear faster than standard grips and will probably need replacing once a year for the twice a week golfer.

Arthritic grips

These are specialist grips that have large diameters or grips with rough surfaces designed to allow sufferers' fingers better grip and more comfort. Usually hard wearing.

Rubber and Cord

A light amount of cotton cord is added to the rubber in the grip giving better traction in the wet and also for heavily calloused hands. These grips are long lasting and very popular.

Full Cords

These are super heavy-duty grips for those who play often and will last a good two or three seasons. They are heavier than rubber grips therefore can affect the swing weight of a club if a lightweight rubber grip is being replaced.

Now add to the range, Tour Wrap variants through to velvet finishes and you have a plethora of interesting styles of grip. These have no real playing differences but they do have a great deal of feel differences built into them. A player will like this look or that look, however it is the feel in the hands that will ultimately determine which style they will choose. Take a look at the following websites to see the wide range of grips available - Golf Pride, Lamkin, Royal and Winn.

Once style and feel are determined we are ready to work on size.

Sizing Grips

First and foremost grips should be sized for comfort. There are many myths about grip sizes causing directional issues. These are indeed just myths. The only size issue of importance is if a grip needs to be squeezed tightly causing tension in the forearms, then the grip is either too small or worn shiny and needs replacing.

A gripping plate (Fig 2) is a good starting point for sizing grips. Place your hand on the plate to get a good indication of the size required. Always try the suggested demo grip as well as one under and one over to ascertain which you find most comfortable. A gripping plate is not essential and a range of varying grips to try, will do an equally good job. Most pro shops stock a variety for demo purposes.

Preparing the Shaft

Now we have determined our grip style and size we can continue with the preparation. For the purpose of this article we will assume the player's hands are a standard grip on a standard shaft. There will be a separate article on how to check shaft dimensions and altering grip size later in the series.

Old worn grips can be removed by cutting them off using a sharp hook blade knife. If you do not have the shaft tightly held in a shaft vice, it is still possible to cut the grip off by hand. Achieve this by holding the club (Fig. 3) firmly and cut away from your body - VERY CAREFULLY.

Old, dried out rubber will come away in bits rather than long strands (Fig. 4). Ultra lightweight rubber grips can also be bitty when they are cut off. The hook bladed knife will save any damage to a graphite shaft. If you have a steel shaft, the bigger flat bladed knives can be used to cut the grips off.

Once you have the grip off the shaft there is likely to be residual grip tape stuck to the shaft itself that needs to be cleaned off (Fig. 5). Elbow grease will do the job, however if you use a blow dryer, the glue will give way much easier and save time. Just remember the paper will be somewhat hot when you go to pull it off! Clean off any remaining glue with a little grip solvent, which can be picked up online or most likely at your local proshop or golf outlet.

I hope you have enjoyed our first installment in this new area of iseekgolf.com. My next article will continue with the installation of the grip.

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