By John Strege
The top of the pyramid of influence in golf equipment is occupied by PGA Tour players, a preponderance of whom cite fishing as an interest away from golf. That being the case, it will be interesting to see whether a new putter grip material gains traction among them.
Salty Grips are putter grips made from cork, same as handles on fishing rods. "We love to fish and we love to golf," Mark Button said, speaking on behalf of partner Whitfield Flowers and himself, the founders of the company. "It started off as an esthetic thing. A fishing rod is really cool. But it evolved because it makes more sense from a technical standpoint when you realize how light it is and that it seems to provide a lot more feedback. You know when you mis-hit a putt. Rubber can have such a strong dampening effect."
Button said the cork comes from a specific oak grove in Portugal. The grips are sealed with a water-resistant polymer.
"If you are looking for something light where you can feel the weight of the putter head when you make the stroke and get a lot of feedback, ours is 40 grams for the mid-plus and 70 grams for the oversize or jumbo grips," Button said. "Compared to similar-sized grips, these are 25 to 40 percent lighter.
Several putter manufacturers are experimenting with them. Bettinardi Golf, which has a Kuchar model putter designed specifically for Matt Kuchar, offers Salty Grips as an option. Salty, incidentally, is in the process of making an 18-inch prototype grip for Kuchar to try, Button said.
Another feature is that the grips are easily customizable by using laser engraving, in any number, "one, five, 10, 100," Button said. The cost is a $10 up-charge. The grips themselves sell for $34.95 for the mid-plus and $39.95 for the oversize.