Golf is a great excuse to exercise, socialize and enjoy the outdoors. However, as we age, we often start losing the strength and flexibility that we enjoyed in our younger days. Arthritis, pain, fatigue and joint problems have kept many golfers off of the course and away from the game they love. How can you overcome these issues? Technological advances focusing on the design and material of the golf club grip may be the answer.
Traditional grips are large at the end of the club shaft and get smaller toward the club head. While many variations of color, overall diameter, hardness and surface design are available; this basic shape continues to dominate the market today. But why is the grip shaped like this? If you hold your hands as you do when you grab the club, it is clear that your hand is smaller at the top by your smallest finger and larger by your index finger: exactly the opposite shape of the traditional grip. Now think about which hand is holding the smallest part of the grip. It is your dominant hand. Because your strongest hand is holding the smallest part of the grip, you are forced to grip harder with this hand: another source of pain and fatigue and an issue if hands are weakened.
Beyond comfort, shot distance and accuracy are affected by how the club is held. Conventionally tapered grips are designed to rotate in your hands. To hit a straight shot, the timing of the contact between the club head and the ball must be perfect. Reverse taper grips create a secure, relaxed grip in your palm, eliminating the club rotation within your hands. The result is an immediate gain in power and control.
Many arthritis sufferers believe that oversized grips are the answer. However, normal oversized grips don’t fit the shape of the hand any more than standard grips and may be detrimental to your swing. Some oversized grips are extremely heavy – 100 grams or more – changing the club’s balance point.
Advances in polymer technology are giving manufacturers more options than ever to produce grips that are durable while maintaining a soft and tacky feel. A major disadvantage of rubber is that it becomes slick when wet either from damp weather conditions or perspiration. Many materials become susceptible to tearing and degradation when made to feel soft and tacky. Materials such as thermoplastic elastomers stay tacky in all weather conditions and remain extremely durable even when softer grades are used. Some elastomers are even impact absorbing which means that they cushion your hands and joints from the vibration created after contact with the ball.
Product Options –
One option for golfers looking for alternatives to the traditional grip is Buster Grips, a patented product that is made in the USA and conforms to USGA and R&A rules. Buster Grips were the first patented reverse taper golf grips and are made from a high tech material that is utilized in commercial applications where toughness, yet tackiness is required in addition to vibration reduction. Sold by the owner locally and on the Internet for several years with great user feedback, the grips were launched nationally at the 2007 PGA Merchandise Show and received very positive feedback. Design features include a trademarked ring pattern that increases the contact area with the hands and prevents hydroplaning, similar to a tire and the road. The small end of the grip (the butt end) is reinforced to prevent damage to the grip from repeated golf bag re-entry after a shot. Conversely, the large end of the grip has a short reverse slope to prevent catching when club is removed from the bag. Buster Grips weight of 59 grams is average for the industry so the balance point of the club is not affected by the change in grip shape.
Many golfers have never replaced the grips that came as standard equipment on their clubs. The general rule of thumb is that if you play two rounds of golf a week, you should regrip your clubs twice a year, three rounds a week, three times a year, etc. Most pro shops and retail golf stores have regripping services and will install the grip of your choice on all of your clubs in an afternoon or less, but you can do it yourself.
Once you choose a grip, you will need five more items to do the job yourself:
- Grip solvent (in a squeeze bottle is best)
- Two-sided 2-inch-wide grip tape
- A container to catch the unused solvent
- A vise
- A special rubber shaft holder
All of these should be available from major component companies. Common grip solvents are Coleman Camp Fuel or lighter fluid. Do not use something like WD-40 that will leave an oily residue and potentially loosen the grip.
Before you start you must remove the old grips and the old grip tape. Simply cut the old grip off with a sharp blade, then remove the old adhesive with solvent. You are now ready to start regripping.
- Put the shaft holder over your club shaft and tighten in the vise. Be careful not to over tighten if you are re-gripping graphite shafts – they can crack. Tighten just enough that the shaft does not move.
- Cut a piece of grip tape about 8 inches long. Place it along the butt of the shaft, leaving about a half-inch over the end of the shaft.
- Wrap the tape around the shaft, making full contact for the length of the tape.
- Squeeze the tape together at the end of the shaft and push it slightly into the shaft to seal the end of the club.
- Fill the grip about three-quarters full of solvent. Put your finger over the hole in the end of the grip, squeeze the grip opening closed and shake the grip so the solvent covers the entire inside.
- Pour solvent along the tape and be ready to install the grip.
- Push the grip up and over the shaft butt. Hold the grip by the front and back and push using equal pressure with both hands. Once you start the grip sliding over the tape, do not stop until the grip is completely on the shaft.
- Clean any excess solvent from the grip and let it sit for an hour.
Now you are ready to go play.
Scratch golfer or duffer – we all affected by age. Changes in flexibility and strength due to arthritis, carpel tunnel, injuries or other joint problems can be overcome with the use of new grip technology designed to create a natural and comfortable grasp of the club. Vibration absorption and a soft tacky feel make these new grips ideal for golfers looking to reduce pain and fatigue. Additional distance and shot accuracy may be an unexpected bonus of upgrading your grips.