By JAMES ACHENBACH
For decades, golf grips remained plain and functional. Mostly they were black. Golfers didn’t think much about their grips.
The grip landscape has changed dramatically in the past five years. Grips now have more color, more texture and more variety.
Unquestionably, Winn Grips led the color parade. This seemed to ignite the competitive instincts of Golf Pride and Lamkin, the longtime frontrunners in the category, and they reconfigured their lineups with more emphasis on modern styling.
Along the way, the highest-selling grip in the history of golf, Golf Pride’s Green Victory, was discontinued after some 40 years. Eventually the Tour Velvet, another Golf Pride grip, replaced the Green Vic as golf’s best-selling grip, Golf Pride says.
Tiger Woods, for example, has used the Tour Velvet cord grip for several years.
Meanwhile, Lamkin’s Crossline family of grips has gained a loyal following. Several other grip companies remain in the business as well, including Tacki-Mac, which has been around since the 1970s.
All reflect a trend toward distinctive, vibrant-colored grips. Many golfers seem to want their grips to have a personality.
GOLF PRIDE BCT
The skinny: The cord grip has been around for more than 60 years. In all that time, it hasn’t changed. It was inspired by tire technology, with fiber strands imbedded in rubber grips.
Cord grips are golf’s answer to moisture. They don’t slip as easily in the rain. However, they are extremely
firm, and many golfers think they feel harsh.
Now Golf Pride says it has improved the cord grip. The new BCT (Brushed Cotton Technology) grips feature smaller-diameter strands. These strands, composed of cotton fibers, also are made of higher-quality material.
The result, says Golf Pride, is a softer, less-abrasive grip. A golfer will feel more rubber and less cord, although the grips will retain their anti-slip character in the rain.
Golf Pride is introducing the BCT technology in all of its current cord grips – Tour Velvet, Tour Wrap and V-55. In addition, two new Tour Velvet cord grips – one red and one blue – are being introduced. Golf Pride’s green Victory grip was retired in 2006.
Cost: The new Tour Velvet BCT cord red and blue grips are expected to retail for $8.50 (not including installation). The cost of other grips with BCT cord can vary slightly, depending on the grip.
Availability: Large metropolitan markets, immediate; everywhere else, March 15.
LAMKIN PERFORMANCE PLUS
The skinny: The new Performance Plus was born from experience on the PGA Tour.
“Tour players were changing the dimensions of their grips with tape (so-called buildup tape underneath the grips),” president and CEO Bob Lamkin said. “As a result, the grips began to taper too much for the players.”
There was another problem: As grips were built up, the surface pattern and texture became distorted, making the grips less effective. So Lamkin engineers designed a grip that was slightly smaller in the upper hand, with less taper going down the grip.
Lamkin offers a midsize grip (plus one-16th of an inch) with the same reduced taper. Soon the company will introduce an undersized grip with less taper.
The Performance Plus grip, available in regular and cord versions, is intended largely for skilled players, particularly those players seeking to hit a power fade. Less taper in the grip is intended to slow down the lower hand (or power hand).
Cost: $3.99 regular, $7.49 cord (not including installation).
The skinny: Winn is famous for introducing polymer grips to golf. Now the company has combined polymer and cord in the PCi-TL, a firm grip designed for better players and anyone else who associates precise shot control with firm feel.
In the beginning, some players thought Winn grips were too soft. No more. The company offers multiple choices in three categories – firm, medium and soft.
Company officials say the PCi-TL is the best all-weather grip ever produced by Winn. It includes what Winn calls a Triple Line embossing pattern on the surface of the grip. Furthermore, the company says the grip’s AVS (Advanced Vertical Seam) technology allows a golfer to easily add as many as four extra wraps underneath the grip.
Winn has made a huge impact in putter grips used by touring pros, and now it wants to do the same with the PCi-TL.
Cost: $7.49 (not including installation)