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Grip research

Can fresh grips produce extra yards? New research says yes

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From an anecdotal standpoint most golfers would answer in the affirmative. Much like the kid who is convinced they can run faster in new sneakers, fresh grips just feel better in your hands, especially if you’ve allowed your grips to get to the point where they are a little bit slick.

But is that true? And if it is, how much better off are you? Golf Pride has conducted some initial research that says you’re two yards longer with fresh grips over worn ones. Before you sniff over two yards, think about being fit for your latest driver or irons. Pretty sure the one going two yards longer gets the nod.

“We asserted a number of years back that grips aren’t just handles for golf clubs but equipment for your hands,” said Jamie Ledford, president of Golf Pride. “We did that because we felt it to be true, but we didn’t have data to prove it the right way. We feel like we’re at the beginning of a 20-year journey where the category gets transformed over time with more insight and more science. I think grips might be the most underdeveloped equipment category in golf in terms of being thought of as a performance enhancer.”

The research was conducted at Golf Pride’s fitting studio in Pinehurst, 17 right-handed male golfers with handicaps between scratch and 5 were given three fitted Titleist MB 7-irons (37 inches) with Project-X shafts. Each shaft had three different Golf Pride Tour Velvet standard size grips. One new grip, and 2 exposed to ultraviolet (UVA/B) light. The UVA/B exposed grips were placed in a QLab QUV Accelerated Weather Tester chamber for 8 hours and 24 hours. Participants hit 10 shots with each grip into a simulator off an artificial turf surface with a TrackMan 4 launch monitor collecting performance data. After every six players, a new set of grips were put on the test clubs.

When players used a new Golf Pride Tour Velvet grip compared to the grip placed in the weather chamber for 24 hours, their average ball speed increased by 1.3 mph and the average carry length increased by 2.3 yards. Further, the face impact location of the new grip compared to the worn grip showed a dispersion increase of 11 percent and 10 percent in the x-axis and y-axis, respectively. This demonstrates the possible slippage or rotation of the worn grip in the players hands during their swing.

After each grip was swung, players were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 4, how secure the grip felt in their hands. Eighty-two percent (14 of 17 players) felt the new grip was secure to very secure while only 24 percent felt the most worn grip felt secure to very secure. Seeing how, according to Golf Pride, approximately 80 percent of golfers do not re-grip each year, meaning yards are being left on the table.

A 2017 independent study by Golf Laboratories had a slightly different methodology but the results would appear to confirm the premise that new grips matter. The test with 30 players using 6-irons with identical clubheads and shafts pitted new grips against those with three years of wear (as with the recent study, wear was simulated). The result was a nearly four-yard improvement with new grips.

“A grip isn’t only a grip,” said Ledford. “We’re trying hard to change the way people think about grips. We think it’s a tremendous growth opportunity because most golfers aren’t in that mindset yet that grips are a piece of performance equipment. I see it as our job to educate them grips serve as a connector, as countless adjustments are made with the hands that can significantly influence every shot.”