Ribbed for Lower Scores?
An unexpected trend in grips over the last few years has been the reemergence of ribbed grips. From standard ribs to more aggressive reminders like Golf Pride’s ALIGN and Lamkin’s Calibrate, grip makers are pushing ribs as a way for golfers to get more consistent. But do they work? We decided to put them to the test.
Myth #1 – Ribbed grips make a golfer more accurate
Myth #2 – Ribbed grips create more distance consistency
How We Tested
For this test, we gathered a group of 11 golfers. These golfer’s handicaps ranged from +2 to 8. Each golfer hit 14 shots with a 6-iron: 7 with a ribbed grip, 7 with a non-ribbed grip. The shaft and club head were the same for each player. Some players hit their shots with ribbed grips first, others tested the non-ribbed grip first.
All shots were recorded on Trackman. All testing was done at and with the help of Club Champion.
The results of this test leave a lot of room for interpretation. Let’s start with the numbers. When looking at the average offline distance, seven of our testers were more accurate with a ribbed grip. However, the group as a whole was more accurate with a round grip (10.3 yards offline vs. 11.7).
When we look at the gap between their rightmost and leftmost shots, round grips were better for seven players. Round grips were also better on average, creating a left-to-right gap that was 0.5 yards smaller.
Some context needs to be added here. Of our eleven testers, only two play a ribbed grip regularly. Four testers expressed a distaste for ribbed grips either before or during the test. Those four players all produced dramatically better numbers with the round grip, which is part of why both group averages favored round grips.
In spite of some large “losses,” the ribbed grip was competitive overall and superior for many individual golfers. While the data is certainly not conclusive, it seems reasonable to think that there could be an accuracy advantage to ribbed grips – if one has an open mind.
At first glance, this myth appears to be busted. A deeper look and a little context pushes it into the “Inconclusive” category.
To judge distance consistency, we looked at the gap between each player’s shortest and longest shots. Four of our testers posted distance deviations with ribbed and non-ribbed grips that were less than one yard different. Looking at the group as a whole, ribbed grips produced larger deviations – by half of a yard. However, six of the eleven testers had better (if only slightly better) deviations with a ribbed grip.
Again, the context is relevant. Our testers were primarily round grip users and over a third were openly anti-rib. The reason that we deemed this to be Inconclusive rather than Plausible is that the data points toward the rib making a limited difference regardless of preference.
If you are looking for a grip change to turn you into Collin Morikawa, you’re going to be disappointed. However, there is reason to believe that – unless the rib makes you very uncomfortable – a ribbed grip has the potential to make you more accurate. For golfers heading into the offseason, throwing a ribbed grip on to an iron for winter practice can be a worthy low cost, low impact experiment.
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Matt, the problem, as an experienced clubmaker I know, sees it — is that getting that rib perfectly down the underside is time consuming. He was charging $25 per grip with installation because of the time it took for his OCD to be satisfied. Don’t think I’d trust a normal shop to get it right.
And we’ve got to be judicious on their use – using it on Gap-LW would drive me nuts, as you alluded, due to opening up the wedges on certain shots.
If I was installing it yourself on one club, as you said, it’s a good experiment.
I’d agree, installation is definitely time consuming if you’re OCD like me.
Matt, you’re not really OCD until you start referring to it as CDO – which is how it should be, with the letters in alphabetical order.
I have installed at least 6 sets of Align grips since release. I actually find them easier to put on and far less “crooked” than a regular grip. Once you get the technique down it’s not hard.
I prefer the rib in the Align series. My grip can wander weak if I don’t focus on it. This certainly helps me.
Honestly, my shop does about 1,000-1,300 grips per season.
I’ve never had a problem installing the ribbed grip straight. As long as you would match the 2 guide notches at the top & button of the grip, the align would always match up. I would always do a double check but 99% of the time perfect..
Have you ever done a study on less tapered grips. I installed them on my clubs in early October and love the result.
No, we’ve tested grip size but not shape.
why did you use use low handicap players as testers? Wouldn’t it be better using mid and high handicappers, who could probably benefit more by using these ribbed grips than players who are already very skilled ball-strikers?
I -17.5 hcp- would like to read more tests by (and reviews of equipment for) players I can more relate to.
Kind regards, Mark
P.S. I live in the Netherlands; people are reading you on this side of the Atlantic too!
Thanks for checking in from the Netherlands!
There are two reasons for using low handicappers. First, they’re who we have access to. There are 10,000,000 people who tell us, “We’d love to be part of your tests!” and a very small handful who actually show up, so practical concerns are a big part of the equation. The other reason is that high handicap players have too much variance in their games, so picking out the differences that the equipment changes make is harder. We have done a couple tests with higher handicap players in the past and the amount of usable data was quite small.
never had a grip that was ribbed, but like to try one.
I have always used round grips. Just hesitant on the ribbed because of how it may feel if you have to hit a shot with a club face slightly open or closed. If I did try them if would be gradual. Driver and long clubs first, then irons. Don’t think I would put them on my wedges. #SecretGiveaway2021
Wait did any of the players originally play grips with reminders? Most people that play ribbed grips slice the hell out of a round grip so I think the test is skewed because 90% of amateurs play round. So it was foreign to them.
If ribbed grips offer a universal advantage, it shouldn’t matter what people play regularly.