A Putter Grip Buyers Guide
Recently Winn Grips introduced their new Pro X putter models and it reminded me of how quickly the size and shape of putter grips have evolved in such a short period of time. After all, Winn revolutionized grips approximately 25 years ago with the first golf grips made of a soft polyurethane (PU) material wrapped around a rubber underlisting. These synthetic putter grips felt so good, and their jumbo model was so much softer and lighter than rubber putter grips of similar size.
In the past 10 years, the choice of putter grips used by golfers have changed dramatically. Modern putter grips are larger, softer, colorful, and less tapered than grips previously made. Let's explore what each of these benefits are.
What is an oversized or jumbo putter grip?
If you were shopping for a putter grip 25 years ago, putter grips were, well…almost all-black, "standard" sized and made of rubber. Yes, there were a few grips labeled as mid-size, oversize, or jumbo, but nowhere close to what is available today. The largest grip on the market back then was the Tiger Shark Jumbo grip weighing 130g and measured 1.25" or +5/16" larger than the "standard" grip at the time. Tiger Shark would ultimately evolve to become SuperStroke. It is important to understand, there were no standards for putter grip size and that still holds true to this day.
What is the difference between an oversized putter grip vs. a jumbo putter grip?
Terms like "Oversized putter grip" or "Jumbo putter grip" are strictly relative terms to models within the manufacturer's respective lines. These terms are generally used interchangeably. The term "Super Jumbo" is often used to indicate even larger putter grip sizes. Often manufacturers will put in the actual diameter of the grip. For example, the new Winn Pro X comes in 1.18" diameter (Midsize), 1.32" (Jumbo) and 1.60" (Super Jumbo).
Why use a larger putter grip?
The two primary reasons for using a larger grip are comfort and control. For those who have ever driven a car from the 80's or before, one thing you notice compared to cars today is the circumference of the steering wheel in your hands. An older model might measure 1.0" in diameter, whereas a modern car might measure 1.3" in diameter. No wonder steering wheel covers were so popular at one time. Often you will hear that a larger putter grip takes the pressure out of the hands and wrists to help enhance a more natural putting stroke. I'll take the simple answer.
How does a reduced taper putter grip help me?
Pick up almost any tool and examine at the handle. What you will see, and feel is the size remains constant. Why? There is a whole science devoted to this called ergonomics. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary ergonomics is defined as "an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely". Once again, you will often hear that a reduced tapered or no-taper putter grip (like SuperStroke) takes the pressure out of the hands and wrists, so you use your shoulders to create a smooth, pendulum-style putting stroke. However, the larger size under the lower hand contributes to both comfort and control.
Does putter grip material matter?
Originally, putter grips were made like swing grips, using rubber material. However, rubber is relatively dense and as with almost anything, you make it larger, and you make it heavier. So, golf grip manufacturers started looking for lighter weight materials so that the grip can be made larger. Depending on the putter size, putter shape, material hardness (durometer), and texture, putter grips are now made from a multitude of materials from rubber, rubber composition (like thermoplastic rubber), corded rubber, leather and most recently a synthetic (polyurethane) strap wrapped over a rubber or EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) underlisting to form a one-piece slip-on grip.
While counter-balancing putters is advantageous for certain golfers, too much weight in the grip area can reduce the head feel. Enter the synthetic over-wrap putter grip with the EVA underlisting. A standard sized rubber putter grip weighs @ 60-80g depending upon the shape (pistol vs paddle) and the size is usually around 1.0" diameter or smaller. Now synthetic grips with an EVA underlisting can measure 1.3" diameter and weigh the same so you get the benefits of a larger grip without the effect of counterweighting.
Is it time to regrip your putter?
The once lowly putter grip has changed dramatically in only a brief period because of advances in material and in sizes and materials that customers and many professional golfers prefer. If you are thinking about re-gripping your putter or are in the market for a new putter, there is no better time to explore all the options that are available and see how they might improve your game.