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How to Remove and Save Grips

Jul. 31, 2006     By     Comments (24)

One of the easiest ways to give a putter a new feel and maybe a new lease on life is to change the grip. Doing so doesn't have to be a permanent commitment if you can save the old one.

Bag DropMy father didn't just teach me to play golf, he taught me to be a golfer. And in the olden days - his and mine - that meant learning some basic skills to take care of your equipment.

Golf grips are certainly one of the easiest things to work on. Regripping, building up grips, making them thinner, and swapping out putter grips are all easy tasks that can be accomplished with simple tools and a little patience.

When it comes to saving grips so they can be reused, there are three primary methods, each with their own camp of proponents. Here's a look at the choices and a run down on the method I use and recommend…

Blow Them Off
While I've never done this myself, I've watched a couple clubmakers use this technique. It requires a tank of compressed air and a nozzle that will fit into the hole in the grip cap. Once the nozzle is positioned, a blast of air blows the grip from the tape and allows it to be removed.

From what I've seen, however, it's a method used more to quickly remove and discard grips than to save them. That's because oftentimes the grip will burst in the process. And I'm not sure how effective it would be trying to save thicker wrapped Winn or leather grips.

It's fast, but it requires the expense of a compressor or tank of air and all the necessary fittings and so, for that reason alone, I've never tried it. But because of the speed and because there's no solvent involved, some really like it… especially if they are dealing in volume work.

Give Them the Needle
Pressurized Grip RemoverI used this system for a long time with mixed results. A canister is filled with solvent and then a large needle is inserted into the space between the grip and the shaft. Then you pump the solvent in to break the bond between grip and tape.

In my experience, you often had to insert the needle in more than one spot. If the tape bond was especially strong (as is typical with an old grip), the solvent would often spout out the hole in the grip cap. Thus, sometimes I'd wind up with solvent all over the place. Pretty messy.

I also found I had to use acetone as a solvent to make this work. And that's a lot more volatile and nasty a solvent than mineral spirits or paint thinner. On the other hand, with its newer model, GolfWorks cautions as to the type of solvent to be used since some can dissolve the seals.

The needle holes are not that apparent after you're done, although you can see a trace of them in smooth grips like the Ping Man putter grips. The old model I have didn't come with the flexible hose. This meant needles routinely bent and eventually broke. More than once I came close to injecting myself instead of the grip.

Still, it works. GolfWorks sells the model pictured here (above, right) for $53.90.

Slip Slide Them Away
The first time I saw a clubmaker use this technique, I slapped my head and thought, "why didn't I think of that?" It's ridiculously simple, the tools are cheap, and in removing dozens of grips I've only lost one that I can remember.

Grip Removal Tools

Here's what you need: GolfWorks calls it their V-Groove Grip Remover and Golfsmith calls it a Spring-Rod Grip Remover. I also use a squeeze bottle for solvent (I use odorless paint thinner) and a Grip Bore Cleaner from Golfworks.

Grip Removal Technique 1Here's how it works: I stand the club upright on the grip and insert the tool just under the lip of the grip. Then I squeeze some solvent down the gap between the grip and shaft.

Here comes the trick: I hold the tool steady and twist the club so the tool spirals down the shaft. Stop several times to squeeze more solvent down the grip. Don't push down hard on the tool because you could shove it right through the grip… that's how I ruined one. The spiral action is key.

What you're actually doing with the tool is giving the solvent access to the tape. The solvent is doing the work, the tool is just breaking the weakened bond.

Once the tool is all the way down the shaft and the grip is free (you can feel it break loose), I lay it down on the workbench, hold the tool steady and twist the club as I pull it from the grip. It's easy if you just take your time.

Grip Removal Technique 2Sometimes - especially on recently gripped or new clubs - the grip will come off with no tape residue inside. But if there is some tape left in there, I use the bore cleaner to scrape it clean. A little more solvent in the grip helps this process.

That's all there is to it. GolfWorks and Golfsmith caution it's not for Winn or cord grips. I think they're being overly conservative. I've easily removed Winn grips, cord grips, and leather wrapped grips… even that new stitch-back Scotty Cameron leather grip. The solvent I use doesn't stain the leather.

The key to wrapped grips is to make sure you spiral the shaft in the same direction as the diagonal of the wrap so the leather or polymer doesn't peel off the underlisting. Stiffer grips like leather and cord just require more care and patience as you spiral the tool down. Go slower and use plenty of solvent.

The GolfWorks tool is available online for $19.95. They also sell the squeeze bottle for $0.95 and the Grip Bore Cleaner for $7.95. Golfsmith, which sells their tool for $19.99, doesn't show it in their online store, but you can see it on page 96 of their online Clubmaking Catalog.

In the End…
For me, playing around with my equipment has often resulted in a better club… especially when it comes to putters. But I'm so fickle about such things it's a process I indulge in often. It's not very expensive if you can re-use your grips. Give it a try. It really is fun and such skill truly makes you a complete golfer.

Posted in: Bag Drop Comments (24)

Discussion

  1. gas_can says:

    Using a needle to inject solvent is incredibly dangerous, avoid at all costs. Several old school clubmakers have lost fingers and gone through incredible pain after accidentally injecting themselves. This has become such an issue that PGA of Canada will immediately strip the credentials of any professional caught using a needle and solvent to remove grips. Don't attempt it.

    Using an air compressor to remove grips is very effective. However, do not use tape to install them if you intend to save them. I've found it almost impossible to save grips with an air compressor which have been traditionally installed. Protector tubes are also available to help save grips.

  2. Chopper Jones says:

    seems like a lot of work to save something that only costs a few dollars in most cases...

    C

  3. I agree, Chopper. Cut it off and put a new grip on it. If the grip is that important to you, leave it on the club.

  4. Brian says:

    I just looked at the picture of the V-Groove Grip Remover and I think it's supposed to be inserted the other way. This way, any shaft bands won't be damaged by the handle.

  5. Jack Waddell says:

    Brian,

    That's a great observation. And you are right, of course. I do it this way on purpose, however, because it keeps my hand away from the shaft so I can hold the tool firmly as I twist the shaft (otherwise my fingers are pinched against the shaft as I turn it). It also gives me a little more leverage and keeps the lip of the grip open for frequent squirts of solvent. Just a little more comfortable for me this way. Haven't messed up a shaft label yet... but then I'm pretty careful.

  6. KWJ says:

    I work at a auto bodyshop and after reading the article, went and used a air blowgun and it blew the cord grip right off my Scotty.
    Thanks

  7. Sam Clews says:

    The best method that i use to remove grips practically is;
    get a syringe
    use the syringe to fill the shaft with water via the hole in the top of the grip.
    once the shaft is full then fill the syringe with any thinner like white spirit.
    as like the water was insert do the same with the white spirit and slowly u will feel the liquid working its way down the shaft between the grip, tape and the shaft.
    the grip will then slide off and can be re-used

  8. Dennis says:

    Thanks, I didn't even know the Spring Rod Grip Remover existed. Golfsmith has a new model now and it's incredibly effective.

  9. Tom says:

    Thanks, read you column and responses and just ordered the new Spring Rod Grip Remover. I appreciate the instruction and hope all goes well in my first attempt at removing a grip.

  10. Dave says:

    Thanks, I found a old cheap bread knife that was as long as the grip. dull as dull could come with no point. I did it on a new club that UPS broke the shaft on. I used Zippo lighter fluid and worked the knife down and around till the fluid came out of the hole. Grip came off like a breeze. Thanks abunch

  11. jaima says:

    Re:
    Chopper Jones

    "seems like a lot of work to save something that only costs a few dollars in most cases... " :?:

    Golf grips might be a few dollars in the states but in the UK we have to pay 3 or 4 times the costs that you pay, Why is that you may ask ? its simple we brits dont call it RIP-OFF Britian for nothing after all the grips are coming from the same manufacturers, just take a look at our petrol (gas) prices £1-18p per litre, roughly about $13 per gallon so a post like this does make sense especialy when the grips being removed are still in good playable/useable condition.

  12. jim says:

    The blow off method rocks!!! thank you very much.

    Jim

  13. Shane says:

    One of the reasons I read this article was to remove the grip from my scotty. I really dont like the stock grip, however, I have sen it on ebay going for about 70 bucks. Now, I would never sell the grip, but I would like to show it off. Im not sure what method to use, but I will try one of these or just take it somewhere so they can do it.

  14. Garth says:

    :razz:
    What a great article. Tried a screwdriver and some solvent. Nearly pushed the screwdriver through the grip. Then tried the compressed air. What a winner!! By the second grip I was popping them off like a pro. Thanks.

  15. Aasim says:

    New ideas for me but i tried a very difficult method i simply rolled over the grip with force and applied the new one in the reverse manner thats unrolling on the same adhesive. Definitely my hands were sore.

  16. Cheapguy says:

    Although I have a nice set of Callaway clubs that get appropriate care, I also find myself buying miscellaneous clubs at yard sales and thrift stores for $1-3 each. I look for clubs with nice graphite shafts and/or new grips and, if I can't use the club, I will save the shaft and grip. Its cheap entertainment and I get a lot of practice at club care for very little investment.

  17. Argyle Vintage Golf says:

    I guess this all depends on why you're removing the grips. As a small home business clubmaker I have @20 different styles of grips, but even these don't satisfy all customers. Even though grips are cheap in the USA, cutting off a grip is a waste of an asset. If you're reshafting a set of clubs and the owner just had the old shafts regripped, he's looking at increased price for new shafts and grips. Most pro shops are going to charge @$20 for a new grip and new TT shaft. With the cost of some of the new GP and Lambkin grips @$7+, if the old grips are newer, it makes sense to pull them, either for reinstallation, or for your stock.
    Here's a hint, the newer Decade Multi-Compounds tend to stick on the non-butt end. I've done these many times and had little luck with just air. Even at less than 50psi these grips tend to not release and form a bubble in the transition/lowere hand area of the grip. You can continue to try to squeeze the bubble towards the end of the grip but it just doesn't work. Best to combine the spring method to @4"-5" deep then use air to release the grip this is a little quicker than just using the spring and a cleaner removal.
    Like one person above, I often shop for used clubs and often find good grips and shafts installed. The club may only cost $0.99-$1.99, but the shaft and grip are worth up to $20. Some chain proshops put their demos or other clubs on sale for less than $5 and some irons have high end graphite or steel shafts. In either store you get a bargain. I bought a full set of Titleist DCI blacks and TaylorMade 300 NS (Miura Forged) irons, a TM RAC 54 &58 at a Salvation Army for $1.99 each. All of the irons had brand new Golf Pride Tour Velvet ribbed grips installed. These cost almost twice what I payed for the clubs.
    Sold the grips to a customer, the 300 irons on eBay, kept the 54 & 58 Y cutter and still made over $400!

  18. leclair says:

    Thanks for the tip on using what looks like a pastry tool that spreads the frosting on the cake. I took my on tool started the prosses of putting solution and twisting and was able to save all my grips which where brand knew of my r9 irons. Now I have a back up set of grips that are virtually brand new to use once my winn lite grips get worn. And just to comment about just cutting the grip because its only a couple of dollars to buy new grips if you need them. To get new good grips its at least 5 to 6 dollars and to have someone put the grips on for you cost around 3 dollars. So do the math 9x9=81 dollars to buy new grips and have a pro install them. Im all for saving 81 dollars and using that to play some golf. THANKS FOR THE TIPS IT WAS VERY HELPFULL!!!!!

  19. dony says:

    I made my grip remover tool from the steel shaft of an old golf club. Works a treat. You need to cut a section from the old shaft which should be a foot long.
    It slided up nicely between the grip you want to remove and the shaft of the club. Used lots of solvent. This takes patience.
    Tried using a compressor. It broke the seal alright but it was still welded on.

  20. Gruff says:

    Ok. I decided to try and shorten the shaft on my old putter. So I stuck the club (upside down) handle first into a bucket of hot water. After a couple of minutes I spray a little WD40 between the bottom of the grip and the shaft. 5 minutes later, I just eased the grip off..... All these power tools are just toys. :o)

  21. Brian says:

    I use air to take grips off and put them on. The first time I did it I was astounded at how much pressure (up to 100 PSI in some cases!!) it took to blow them off, but I'm used to that now.

    Yes, some grips that are really bonded to the tape blow up like balloons and don't want to let go, but you can prevent that by slipping a tube over the grip that's long enough to cover the grip and just large enough inside to slip over the butt end of the grip. The grip will still "balloon", but it can only expand until it hits the tubing, then the air will flow into other parts of the grip and cause it to release.

    I've found the most difficult grips to remove are those where the tape has been spiral wrapped and doesn't fully encircle the shaft. That allows the air to escape down the shaft in the spaces without tape. You just need to keep at it, apply a little more air, and keep twisting the grip to work it loose. It takes a little longer, but I've never had to cut one off.

    Some times I use the GolfWorks grip installer tool to get the grip started, but many times it's not necessary. I just stick the air nozzle in the grip hole, apply a little pressure and voila, the grip is on.

    FWIW, I have found occasional minor slippage while playing with grips installed directly on to shafts without any kind of tape, but I've recently seen a video showing this done with masking tape. I guess it provides enough traction to stop the grip from sliding around, plus you can use it to build up the shaft if you need a larger grip.

    FWIW, my wife was standing nearby one time when I was putting grips on, and the high frequency squeal of the air escaping between the grip and the shaft drove her crazy.

    YMMV

  22. nate steward says:

    why didn't i think of this, it's so simple. I used wd-40 and a thin metal rod (about a foot long). In 20 minutes i had removed 7 perfectly good grips. I put them on a set of vintage jack nicklaus macgregor's. I now terrorize my club for an investment of $0. Why wouldn't you use this method?

  23. Mark Bloxham says:

    Great read! I tried the poor mans method of compressed air with a foot pump, but it didn't go so well ... So then I tried the second method with a kebab skewer and WD40. Worked a treat, got a nice grip off an old club, sawed about 1.5" off the shaft, wrapped tape around the top and shoved the grip back on. Voila, one shorty club for my 5 year old to begin his golf odyssey :-) Thanks for this post, great work.

  24. Patd says:

    Hi, took some of the tips above and basically used an old glass vase put hot water in with washing up liquid and used 3 skewers pushing them down the grip every couple of minutes pouring with as much washing up liquid as possible and within 10 mins had the grip off no problem.
    Just need to figure out how much to cut off and how to regrip?

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