After a little hiatus, The Bag Drop is back this week, with the second part in our guide to getting fit. In part one, we looked at some of the online resources available to assist you in finding the right shafts for your game. This week, we’ll touch on a little bit of the same, but also touch on what’s available on the Internet when it comes to looking for new grips.In part one, a lot of the discussion was based around the available resources on the Internet. The problem is that you can really only go so far with even the best of what’s around on the web. Obviously, your best bet is going to be to get fit by a professional. A full-on dynamic fitting may not be 100% necessary, but can give you the ultimate peace of mind. Most just opt for a general indoor fitting that likely involves an impact board, a cart with a plethora of shafts and club heads, a few types of balls, and hopefully a launch monitor. You should also have in mind a loose understanding of what you’re looking for in terms of launch angle, spin, etc.
A few tips I have for you:
- Pay close attention to the launch monitor. If your clubhead speed or distance seems way off, yet the professional insists it’s correct, it’s probably best to just drop it right there and either go back when someone else is working, or go to a different shop altogether.
- Again, pay close attention to the launch monitor. This time, watch for launch angle, distance, and spin. As you try different clubs, take note of which ones are closest to your desired end result. Though this seems pretty obvious, far too many times, I’ve seen aspiring players fall victim to a retailer trying to move a certain brand or model and going over the line with how the pitch them (even to the point of flat out lying).
- Thanks to new fitting tools such as the Mizuno Shaft Optimizer, a lot of the guess work in iron shaft fitting is gone. If used properly, it should leave you with one recommendation and two alternates. Make sure you try all three, as you may prefer the trajectory or feel of one of the two alternates.
Grip It And Rip It
Now that we’ve beaten shaft fitting into the ground, let’s shift gears to other components. A component that can go overlooked at times is the grip. Though grip selection may not be as complicated as choosing the right shaft, using the wrong one can lead to less than optimal results. Of course, the top three names in the industry would have to be Lamkin, Golf Pride (Eaton), and Winn.
Before visiting your local shop, or even the website of your favorite grip maker, consider some of the basic materials and which ones are going to benefit you the most. You may be thinking “The grip really can’t make that big of a difference, can it?” Actually, yes, it can. Ever seen K.J. Choi’s putter and noticed the oversized grip on his putter? The reason for using a large grip such as that one is to take one’s wrists out of the putt. The same logic applies to all of your clubs. Too large of a grip is going to inhibit your natural wrist action (as in a slice/block). Too small of one could lead to a very early release, too much wrist action, and ultimately a dreaded snap hook/pull. As a side note, larger grips have been known to benefit players with arthritis problems as well.
The other major factor in finding the right grip is the environment in which one plays the most (which leads to the material used in the grip). Just remember that a corded grip is going to give you a considerably higher degree of grip than a slicker standard rubber grip. A corded grip is usually going to be rougher on your hands, so there is a trade off involved. I could go into details about using the wrong material in a grip, but I think you can use your imagination there. Let’s just say that if it’s too slick or smooth, the end result may be the club going further than the ball, a la Happy Gilmore.
Upon visiting the websites of the previously mentioned big three, each offered at least some form of assistance, though it was pretty easy to rank them in terms of most informative and helpful.
Starting with the Butch Harmon-endorsed Winn Grips website, I was honestly a little disappointed. Though it does have a grip selector tool, it’s pretty basic. At the top of the grip selection page, you have the option of viewing the iron/woods grips, putter grips, and a tips section. Each leads to a different gallery, and there is a grip selector menu on the right-hand side to help narrow your choices down. Problem is, to a newbie, a lot of the choices there are meaningless. For example, how is the inexperienced player supposed to know whether they’re standard or midsize? There are some videos in the tips section, but later on, you’ll see why I think this method doesn’t quite cut it. The same basic principle goes for grip firmness – how is someone new to the game supposed to know the difference in feeling between a medium or firm grip? The third criteria they use to narrow the results down is weather conditions, which is pretty standard fare.
On the flip side, I do like that Winn is now offering some lightweight options in the new WinnLite line of grips. The reduced weight can potentially help a player achieve higher swing speeds.
Next up was a visit to Golf Pride. Their interactive grip selector was a step up from Winn’s. Again, remember that I’m taking the approach that I know nothing about grips and I’m new to the game. Their grip selector has you select a value for four different criteria; moisture management, responsiveness, surface texture, and glove size. Already this seems like it would make more sense to me if this were the first time I was ever considering new grips. Like Winn’s site, one of the major criteria is the grips’ performance in wet/humid weather. This goes a long way in determining whether or not corded grips are recommended. The second criteria is responsiveness, which is key for an advanced player, but may be pure punishment for a beginner. Surface texture is the next factor, and usually is more of a preference than anything else as opposed to performance-affecting areas such as size and moisture management. The final piece to the puzzle for Golf Pride is glove size. Like Winn, I thought this was lacking a little, and not quite exact. Still, asking glove size is a little more user friendly than simply asking grip size.
There are some notable new models and color variations on older models you may not have seen either. The DD2 now comes in a white variant, the New Decade Multicompound now comes in a purple variant, and the Tour Wrap 2G is a new take on the reliable old Tour Wrap Line.
The final stop was Lamkin. I thought there was one quality of Lamkin’s site that set them above the rest in terms of making the choice foolproof. They have a downloadable, printable sizing chart that takes virtually all of the sizing guesswork out of the process. Simply print the PDF and place your hand on the line, and see which size you should be using. You’ll take that value and simply enter it in step two. From there, the third step in the interactive system asks you about your preferred firmness. Again, like I said about Winn, the beginner could look at this as a relative attribute and not really have a clue what they want. Fourth on the list is tackiness, which is likely going to be more of a preference than anything. The fifth and final criteria is weather, again, which is going to be used to determine the material of the grip. Don’t casually disregard this category, as it can be very important, especially if you play in a very hot and humid region. Here in South Louisiana, it’s about as humid of a place as you’ll find, and I can tell you that without a good corded grip, I’m very likely to squeeze the club a bit too much, which prevents my release and leads to some very bad things. I’ll just leave it at that.
As you can probably tell, I thought Lamkin offered the best resources for newcomers, though all three do have a plethora of available resources at your disposal as well as a wide array of grip models and sizes. Those three also just a small selection of what’s available. Don’t forget about manufacturers such as PURE Grips and IOMIC, especially if you’re not wild about paying nearly $9 per grip for something like the New Decade Multicompounds.
If you still can’t make your mind up, try doing what I did a while back – go to your favorite retailer, and instead of getting your entire set re-gripped, get three or four of your clubs fitted with different models of grips, and then take them to the range and make your decision there. In the end you’ll only be out a few bucks, and you’ll know that you made your decision based on real world results.
Got any other tips? Let us know in the comments!