GOLF GRIPS: 6 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
When shopping for new golf grips, it's important to understand what to look for and how to choose the right grip. Here are 6 important things you need to know about golf grips:
1) Golf Grip Size (Outer Diameter)
Golf grips come in 6 different "sizes" which refer to outer diameter: Standard, Midsize, Oversize/Jumbo, Undersize, and Junior. Every manufacture has a slightly different definition of diameter sizing, but in general Standard grips are around 1" in diameter. Midsize and Oversize/Jumbo grips can vary quite a bit, but in general will range around +1/8" to +3/8" larger in diameter. A standard method of measuring diameter will typically be 5cm below the butt end of the grip (usually where the upper hand wrist aligns with the grip). Similarly, Undersize and Junior grips will fall below 1" in diameter, sometimes nearing 0.8" or below. Because hands (and fingers) come in different shapes and sizes, it's important to try holding an installed grip before committing to changing the size of your golf grips for your entire set of clubs.
The most popular golf grip size is Standard and Midsize, though in recent years many players have found Jumbo/Oversize grips help to reduce grip pressure. Use the menu on the left column (under GOLF GRIPS > SHOP BY SIZE) to find collections of different sizes and styles.
2) Golf Grip Core Size (Insider Diameter)
Not to be confused with the outer diameter of a grip, there is a 2nd size measurement to keep in mind, which is the golf grip core size or inside diameter. The majority of golf grips have an inside diameter of 0.600" or 0.580". This is because most golf shafts have an outer diameter of this measurement as well. Commonly, club-builders will look to match the core size of the golf grip to the outer diameter of the golf shaft. In some cases, club-builders will want to install a 0.580" core size grip onto a 0.600" butt diameter shaft which will actually increase the outer diameter of the grip just slightly. In addition, there are grips that are smaller in diameter (usually for undersize or junior shafts ranging from 0.500" to 0.560"), or much larger (for bubble shafts, around 0.800" or higher).
3) Golf Grip Shape
Golf grips come in either round, ribbed, or alignment shapes. Round is the most popular shape for most grips, meaning you can orient the grip whichever way you prefer (some players like to have the logo of the grip facing up or down, or may choose a 360/no-logo grip). Ribbed grips have a small protruding ridge, designed to be oriented along the spine of the shaft. This rib, also called a "reminder", helps players feel where the bottom of the grip is, so they know how to properly place their hands. Recently, a more modern and prominent rib design has been introduced by some manufacturers, calling it an "Alignment" or "Calibrate" rib. These alignment grips feature an unmistakable ridge that runs along the full length of the grip.
4) Golf Grip Style / Material
Golf Grips come in many different styles but pretty much fall into one of these categories: Velvet, Composite, Wrap, Cord, and Hybrid (Cord + Rubber). The Velvet style grip was made popular by Golf Pride's flagship Tour Velvet line, which feature small repeating patterns of crosses using a rubber material. Velvet grips provides a light texture and traction for control without sacrificing feel. The Composite grip was made popular more recently with styles like the Winn Dri-tac and Golf Pride CP2, which feature a tacky and smooth surface that also provide visually enhancing patters and non-slip gripping. The Wrap style grip is actually a simulated 1-piece style but using a wrap design. The Winn Excel is a popular wrap style grip, as well as the Golf Pride Tour Wrap and Jumbomax Wrap grips. Cord grips have cord fabric interweaved through the surface of the grip. This provides traction and added firmness (feedback). The Hybrid style is a newer more modern style grip that utilizes both cord and rubber. The Golf Pride MCC Plus4 is one of the most notable Hybrid grips, which use a softer rubber for the lower hand and cord (for traction/control) in the upper hand.
5) Golf Grip Feel
Most golf grips will fall into one of three "feel" categories: Soft, Medium, and Firm. Grip feel is an important personal preference. Firm grips tend to provide more feedback to the hands at impact. Soft grips will absorb some of the impact and provide a more comfortable feel. Players that have arthritis or experience hand pain will play better with softer (and/or larger grips). If you prefer a soft grip, it's important to select a grip that has a stable core that will produce minimal torque so there is no twisting during the swing. The Golf Pride CP2 grips address this with a stabilizing inner core, as does the IOMIC LTC ("Low Torque Core") grips. If you prefer a firmer feel, many cord grips and velvet-style grips will provide this along with sharper feedback.
6) Golf Grip Weather Management
Golf grips have a limited life span. If you live in a wet weather or high moisture level climate, you'll want to make sure the golf grip you choose has high moisture management which will help it last longer and provide non-slip performance. Cord grip styles are great for wet weather playing, along with many composite material golf grips, such as the Winn Dri-Tac grips. IOMIC golf grips are also known to provide extended durability due to being 100% UV and water resistant, so they will not crack or fade from sun exposure. Lamkin also makes UV resistant grips, with their Genesis/Fingerprint material that provides longer lasting durability.
7) Golf Grip Profiles
Golf grip profile falls in 1 of 3 categories: tapered, reduced taper, or non-tapered. Traditionally all swing grips have been tapered. In recent years however, players have discovered that building up the lower part of the grip with extra tape can help reduce over-gripping and thereby increase swing control and accuracy. Non-tapered grips have a consistent diameter all the way down the grip. While reduced taper grips, will simulate extra wraps of tape in the lower hand. The Golf Pride MCC Plus4 is equivalent to the New Decade grip except with 4 extra wraps of grip in the lower hand. The Lamkin Sonar Standard+ simulates one extra wrap of tape, while the ST+2 Hybrid grip simulates 2 extra wraps.
How do you determine the best profile for your game? Try holding an installed grip from each profile to see how they feel during an actual swing. Some players who find themselves in between sizes, or have traditionally built up their grips with extra tape, may find reduced taper profiles to fit the bill.
Looking to learn more about putter grips? Check out: Putter Grip Profiles - What you need to know
Want to learn about golf shafts? Check out: Golf Shafts - 5 Specifications you need to know