The grip is the part of the golf club that is located at its top. Golfers use it to actually hold the club in their hands. It is usually made from a single hollow piece of rubber that is slid over the top portion of the shaft of the club.
The grip can also refer to the disposition of the fingers used to grasp the club, of which there are mainly three, i.e., Overlap, Interlock and Baseball. It can also refer to the relative strengths of the grip, of which there are mainly three, Strong, Neutral, and Weak.
Grips for clubs other than putters are available in several sizes and most manufacturers will offer them in the Undersize (small), Standard (regular), MidSize (large) or even Oversize or Jumbo (extra large), or a selection thereof. It is also possible to fine tune the diameter of grips by adding a layer – or several – of tape around the shaft before the grip is inserted on top of it. This technique allows golfers to bridge the gap between two sizes, when none fit perfectly for example.
The size of grips for putters vary much further and in some instance can be found in almost cartoonish large sizes. Super Stroke is an example of a grip maker that offers grips for putters in all sizes, from standard to very large.
Grips are offered in a variety of surface textures, each positioned somewhere on a scale between smooth and abrasive. At the abrasive – or coarse – end of the scale you will find what are known as cord grips which incorporate strands of cords into the rubber base material for maximum hold. These grips are also referred to as “all-weather” since they maintain their gripping properties in wet conditions better than others. On the other end of the scale – the smooth end – you’ll find the tour wrap or any variation thereof. In those, gripping properties are obtained through the tackiness of the surface rather than through extensive pattern designs or the incorporation of other materials such as cord. Finally, located somewhere between the two ends of the scale are the famous tour velvet grips, or any close variation thereof. These provide golfers with a good middle ground that combines tackiness while remaining softer to the hands than are cords.
Grips are also offered in a variety of firmness levels. The vast majority of golfers will use standard – or regular – levels of firmness in their grips. However, golf pros or good golfers with very fast swing speeds will prefer very firm grips which communicate maximum feedback and which promote softer grip pressure. On the other end of the scale are soft grips which are sometimes used by seniors with lower swing speeds. Those types of grips have for downside that its users can be tempted to hold the club too firmly, usually something that should be avoided. Finally it should also be noted that soft grips are also found on putters with some even displaying very soft, sponge-like firmness.
Whereas grips used to come in one standard color – black – they are now offered in a variety of colors, ranging from the still popular black all the way to white, red, blue, and even multicolored. Obviously, this feature was introduced principally for aesthetic reasons and should have limited impact on performance on its own merit.
Grip Shapes and Taper
On clubs other than the putter, grips match the shape of the shaft that is found within, i.e., they are round. However, the levels of taper can vary slightly, or in other words the gradual narrowing of their diameters can be altered. Non-tapered grips – straight grips – are offered as a teaching tool and help a golfer’s right hand to be less involved in the swing, a flaw oftentimes associated with beginners.
Flat Edge on Grip Putters
For the putter, more creativity is allowed in the shapes of the grips and they are not bound to the perfectly round format. For example, the putter is the only club permitted to have a flat surface on one of its edges, contrary to others that must be round all around. Most putting grips will feature a flat surface where the thumbs are resting (top, or front).
When to Replace Grips?
Golf grips are prone to wear and tear and will eventually lose their gripping qualities over time. Grips will also accumulate dirt and as a result it is advisable to regularly wash them with a brush and soapy water from time to time. Only when acceptable tackiness levels are no longer offered even after cleaning should you replace your grips, despite what grip manufacturers would tell you.
Whereas grips in the past all looked alike as far as their general lengths were concerned, the introduction of novelty putters such as the belly and long putter required changes in grips as well. In a belly putter, since the butt end of the club rests against the belly of the golfer, the grip is much longer than for a normal putter. In a long putter, where the butt end of the club rests against the chin of the golfer, the lengths of the grips are longer still. And actually, the gripping area of the club is found in two distinctive spots on the shaft of the club, one for the left hand and another for the right.