Take a moment to consider the grips on your golf club. Odds are they're the most unappreciated piece of equipment in your bag. I know guys who care more about their ball markers, their divot repair tools, and their towels than they care about their grips.
What sense does that make? The only way you can control the golf club is through your hands, and your hands touch the golf club via the grip only. In some ways, the grip is more important than whether you've got a game-improvement cavity back iron on the end of the shaft or a 1970s style muscleback blade - if you can't grip the club properly you've got little chance of success with either.
As a kid I remember installing new Golf Pride Tour Wraps (was there any other kind in the early 1990s?) every two months. It cost a few dollars per grip - installed - and I just left it up to my pro.
As I got older - and grips got more expensive - I opted to buy the solvent, the drip pan, the shaft vice, the grips, the double-sided tape, a hook blade, and a hot air blower to regrip my own clubs. It was okay for a grip or two but I still found myself giving my large regripping jobs to a local clubmaker. It was such a pain in the rear. I'd inevitably get solvent on my hands or the outside of the grip, I'd have a hard time getting the grip on all the way, cleanup and preparation took longer than I cared for, etc.
PURE Grips (first mentioned in this Bag Drop column) seeks to change all of that. With a line of reasonably priced grips that come with a one-year guarantee and the easiest installation process I've ever seen, PURE is positioned nicely to take over from giants Golf Pride, Lamkin, and Winn.
Do their grips hold up? Is installation as easy as the videos on the site?
You might not think there's a lot of technology in grips, but Golf Pride, Winn, Lamkin, and of course PURE would beg to differ. After all, the first three companies must so that they can continue to charge $8+ per grip, and PURE must so that they can convince you they've got a better product.
PURE grips are created using a proprietary injection molding process. This process forms PURE's proprietary rubber formulation into shape. The rubber itself is completely absent of plasticizers or any other diluting additives that may otherwise negatively effect the life and durability of the grip. This is in stark contrast to the majority of grips on the market, which aren't "pure rubber" at all and are surprisingly high in these plasticizers.
PURE's injection molding process and quality assurance keeps their grips to tight standards. PURE says their grips vary in weight less from grip to grip than any other manufacturer and claim to have the most unvarying weight of any grip on the market. I can vouch for the consistency - I measured over 20 grips on a scale and each one of the PURE Pros clocked in at 50 grams on the button.
PURE's consistency doesn't stop there. The company also claims that their grips have the most uniform wall thicknesses in the industry throughout the grip length for a consistent feel in your paws.
As I said, PURE's grips are made of rubber and no plasticizers or cord that can wear out, so the company claims that these grips not only start out tacky but remain tacky throughout their lifetime. There's nothing to get firm, dry, or crack. Whether you're playing in wet or humid weather or colder temperatures of spring or fall, PURE says their grips will remain naturally tacky.
PURE ships five models of grip. The red grip (left) is the PURE Soft Wrap and is the softest grip in the lineup. It weighs about 54.5 grams in the .580 core and 49.9 in the .600 core. The blue grip, the PURE Smooth Wrap, has the look of an unperforated leather grip. It's a mid-firmness grip, weighs 54.5/49.9 grams. The green PURE Wrap is the same as the blue grip except with dimples that mimic perforated leather grips. The orange grip, the PURE Midsize Wrap, is a mid-firmness grip that's thicker. It weighs 64.5/59.9 grams. Finally, the yellow PURE Pro is the firmest grip in the lineup. It's a "velvet-style, traction-grooved" grip similar to the Lamkin Crossline without the white paint. Its firmer feel provides maximum shot feedback. The black and yellow grip weighs 54.5/49.9 grams. All of the grips cost about $5.50 apiece and come in .580 core and .600 core sizes for easy tapeless installation. Each of the two grip sizes will feel "standard sized" when installed without tape on a shaft with the corresponding butt diameter.
Speaking of installation, you've likely heard me mention that PURE grips are easier to install. They require no solvent, no tape, no drip tray, and no messy hands. Have a look at the video below, and keep in mind that in the time it takes you to watch this whole video (just over six minutes), I've regripped an entire set of clubs!
That's great and all, but that's a video done by PURE grips themselves so it's bound to look easy. How difficult is the process in reality? Well, I can say without a doubt that they're not lying.
If I've mislead you into thinking you won't need supplies like with regular grips, I apologize. However, the supplies you'll need will cost you about a hundred dollars. First, of course, you'll need an air compressor capable of generating between 50 and 70 PSI. I've found that 60 PSI or so is a good number for putting grips on clubs. You'll need the Quick Connect attachment - many air compressors will come with this or you can buy them for about $3. You'll also need a shaft holder for a vice ($10 at Golfsmith) and a hook blade. Masking or painter's tape is good if you prefer a thicker grip. The air compressor is useful for inflating bike tires, snowblower tires, and powering some small household tools. You might already own an air compressor, drastically reducing the startup costs.
In testing these grips, I regripped several sets of clubs with both steel and graphite shafts. The biggest pain involves the removal of the old grips. Though a heat gun (or my wife's hair dryer) came in handy, the removal of some of the old tape was not fun at all! It's important to note that care should be taken when removing the grips from graphite shafts in particular so that you don't scratch or cut the shaft itself.
Once the old grips and tape were removed, installation of each grip took seconds. I prefer to align my grips logo down, so I'd put the club in the vice upside down, slip the end of the grip onto the club, and in short bursts apply air as I pushed the grip onto the shaft. If I needed to align the grip it was just as easy, and stretching or pulling the grip to make it slightly thicker or thinner was easy as well.
The grips stick surprisingly well to every shaft I tried - steel or graphite - and couldn't be twisted with even more-than-normal forces. Because there's no solvent to dry, there's no messy cleanup and the grips are truly "ready to play" the instant you unclamp them from the vice.
As with traditional grips, you can build up the thickness with tape. However, PURE recommends that you use masking tape or painter's tape, as the second side of double-sided tape is unnecessary. I comfortably built grips up to three additional wraps of tape. I was also able to stretch grips about half an inch to make them a bit thinner as well and the grips remained - they didn't "unstretch" back to normal thickness.
Since there's no tape with a standard thickness installation, the gripping and regripping process is incredibly simple. One player whose set I regripped tried three different grips on his six-iron before settling on the PURE Smooth Wrap. I was able to slide the previous grip right off the club (with the air gun) and slide a new one right on. Removal and installation of a new grip took less than half a minute and, again, the club could be used to hit balls instantly.
I did encounter two problems in regripping my clubs with PURE grips. Of the hundred or so grips I installed, I had one "blow up" on me. The grip didn't actually explode, but the thinnest portion of the grip bubbled up like a balloon when I tried to stretch the grip. I suppose I pinched the end off a bit too much, but the grip retained a small bubble. I replaced the grip and blame myself for that mistake - it's important not to squeeze the grip against the shaft or bubbling can result.
The second was removing a grip I'd installed over really sticky tape. No matter how much air I pumped in at any pressure, too much of the grip remained "stuck" to the tape that I couldn't slide it off. Word of advice: if you're installing a PURE grip over tape, either remove the tape and put down one-sided tape or at least make sure the tape has lost its tack for future removal. I eventually gave up and cut the grip off. Again, user error and not one I'm going to repeat.
So that's 100 grips or so I've installed, and two problems encountered, both of which were my fault. In every other instance the installation process couldn't have gone more smoothly - the grips slide on in seconds (or slide off in seconds) and they're instantly playable. PURE isn't blowing smoke up our nether regions - they're blowing air in our grips and blowing away old conceptions of the difficulty and messiness of installing new grips on your clubs.
Yeah, yeah, so the grips are easy to install. They're easy to remove, they have five styles, and the toughest thing about switching to PURE grips are removing your old worn-out grips and tape.
But how do the darn things feel? How do they play? How tacky are they? Is that one-year guarantee legitimate?
Suffice to say I think PURE is safe in guaranteeing their year-long playability. With my normal grips (Lamkin Crosslines or Golf Pride New Decade Multicompounds), a single heavy practice session could show appreciable wear on my grips. I saw none with the PURE Pro. I've worked with a student who has the PURE Smooth Wraps installed. He hit about 300 golf balls per day in all sorts of weather for two months and his grips look virtually new.
I've played with my PURE Pro grips in all sorts of weather. I don't wear a glove, and yet I've never experienced any sort of slipping. The PURE Pro (and the rest of the PURE grips) aren't excessively tacky like some other grips I've felt. Instead, they feel only slightly tacky but that level of tackiness lasts and lasts and lasts… precisely the opposite of the fast-wearing Winn grips, for example.
The feel is as advertised as well. The red grip has a softer feel that will likely be preferred by the higher handicapper, the blue and green grips will be preferred the by "aspiring" golfer, and the yellow PURE Pro transmits all the feedback a good player will want to feel. Vibrational feedback was similar to any other top-flight grip.
Finally, I suppose, the grips are stylish in an understated way. I've already mentioned that I prefer to install them logo down, leaving a smooth black surface with minimal decoration - a single paint color in thin stripes - at each end. Though I've messed with the different colors of New Decade Multicompound grips, I've never been one to care a whole lot. A plain grip suits me just fine… and it doesn't hurt that the small bit of yellow on the PURE Pro reminds me of the Pittsburgh sports teams.
These grips perform at a price point that's lower than most grips on the market. They're easier to install and remove than any other grip I've ever used. Saying that they wear well implies that they show wear, which is almost a mistruth - these grips will last even those who are tough on their grips a year or more of use.
PURE doesn't (yet?) have the widest of distribution, so if you've got an air compressor at home you might just want to buy directly from PURE.
Since Golf Pride introduced their New Decade Multicompound grips, I've been a staunch supporter. No more - every club I take to the course these days will sport a PURE Pro grip that I've installed myself. I can't give any piece of equipment a better compliment. You owe it to yourself - and your game - to check out the PURE line of grips.