Everyone’s Doing It
While there have been more-hyped equipment stories this year, nothing has impressed me like the movement towards large putter grips, primarily SuperStroke grips. From winning majors (Phil at the British and Jason Dufner at the PGA Championship) to earning rave reviews from equipment geeks, these large putter grips seem to be everywhere. So, should you try one?
The Short Answer
If you’re a short answer guy: yes, you should try a big putter grip, assuming that you’re not putting well. If you’re already putting well, why are you even reading this? Get out on the course and make some money.
The Long Answer
If you really want to get the most out of your putting, there are a number of things you’ll want to consider when changing your putter grip. First, let’s examine some of the differences between grips.
Though you may not realize it, putter grips come in a wide variety of shapes. The most common putter grip is a “pistol” grip with a flat top surface and a rounded back, but there is variety even within that category: different amounts of taper and different shaping of the back of the grip can produce very different grips.
Beyond the standard pistol grip, there are a variety of more exotic shapes. Most of the SuperStroke grips seen here are mostly round with a small flat surface on the top of the grip. SuperStroke also makes a “Flatso” model (above, on the right) with an extended flat surface and a hexagonal shape.
Finally, there is a small minority of players who use completely round grips on their putters.
I mentioned taper briefly in Shape, but it’s worth a discussion all its own. A grip’s taper refers to how much smaller it gets as you move from the butt of the club towards the head. Just as every player has preferences for size and shape, they will likely have a preferred amount of taper in their grips.
It’s very common for golfers to build up the bottom of their grips with grip tape to try to give the grip a consistent circumference from top to bottom, thus eliminating the taper. The reasoning behind this is that many players believe a smaller grip leads to more hand/wrist action, thus a grip with a lot of taper could lead to hooks.
One of the primary things that I like about SuperStroke grips is that they don’t have any taper: they’re perfectly even along their entire length.
This is, of course, the one factor that everyone thinks about when they look at these new grips. SuperStroke offers their signature grip in diameters ranging from 1” (Ultra Slim 1.0) to 1.67” (Fatso, 5.0).
The USGA limits putter grip size at 1.75”.
The weight of the grip can have a major impact on the way that the club feels in your hands. A lighter grip makes the club head feel heavier because it increases the swing weight. Conversely, a heavier grip makes the head feel lighter.
One of the reasons that larger grips are becoming so popular is they no longer need to be heavy; many of the SuperStroke grips weigh around 60 grams, a very standard weight. Regardless of whether you’re switching to a heavier or lighter grip, it’s important to consider how it will change the feel of the putter head.
So What Grip is For Me?
Most people will go to the store, fiddle around with a few different grips, then toss one on the counter. That’s a fine process since comfort is king when it comes to grips. My process is just a touch more detailed.
Get Some Data
Before you make any changes, get a little bit of data on your current putting. How much data you want is entirely up to you, but establishing a baseline is critical to knowing whether or not you made a good change. Personally, I would collect a combination of on-course performance (putts per round, putts per GIR, average length of putt made) and putting green work (% of putts made from various distances with notes on the misses: left, right, short, or long).
Feel Up Some Grips
This is the most important part of the process. You need to find a grip that has a shape and size that is comfortable to you. Don’t rely on sizing charts, salespeople, or what anyone on tour plays. Only you know if a grip feels comfortable and gives you confidence.
Don’t Lose Weight
Before you chop the current grip off your putter, measure the swing weight. After the new grip is installed, make the necessary adjustments to get the swing weight back to your preferred number.
Practice, Play, and Get More Data
Now that you have your new grip, get out and practice with it. Once you’ve broken it in, collect some more data to find out if the new grip really did help.
Repeat until you find putting nirvana.
Should You Try a Big Putter Grip?
Yes. Ultimately, the putter grip is part of your equipment, and you should be fit for it. It’s the only thing that attaches you to the club, and it’s tremendously important. SuperStroke and other manufacturers have given golfers an unprecedented amount of choices, and we should go out and take advantage of that. I know I will.
If you have any questions, please post them below and I’ll be happy to answer them.
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