This part of the series is about how we teach club fitters to fit golfers for the proper grip size and style.
Many of you might be saying “OMG really? This will be a yawner.”
I’ll ask that you to hang on through the first part of this story, because we’ll get to some other information about grip fitting that many of you may not know.
OK, sure, there isn’t any rocket science associated with fitting golfers for the right grip size and style. Grip size/style fitting is chiefly a matter of golfer preference for what FEELS the best.
“WHAT STYLE AND SIZE ALLOWS THE GOLFER TO MAINTAIN A SECURE HOLD ON THE CLUB WITH THE LEAST AMOUNT OF GRIP PRESSURE?”
The more grip pressure golfers have to use to keep their hands securely on the grip throughout their swing, the more their forearm muscles will contract. And the tighter their forearm muscles, the less consistent golfers will find their swing tempo, timing, rhythm and shot consistency.
The result? More bad shots, which no one wants.
Grip size fitting charts, which offer a size based on a measurement of the hand and middle finger length, stand ONLY as a starting point. Just like a wrist-to-floor measurement acts only as a starting point for length determination, hand/finger measurements are done simply to give the club maker a starting point for coming up with the best grip size for each golfer.
Plain and simple, the golfer has to try different grip sizes to choose the one that is most comfortable and allows him to maintain a secure hold on the club with the least amount of grip pressure. That means trial and experimentation. While many club fitters do this with cut-off shafts and grips installed to different specific sizes, it is better for the golfer to try grip sizes on a fully assembled club. Holding a grip mounted on a cut-off shaft just doesn’t FEEL like a real club and has been known to adversely affect a golfer’s size decision.
Following this guideline, there has been a recent increase in golfer preference for building up the diameter of the lower-hand part of the grip. For example, a right-handed golfer might prefer two wraps of grip tape under his left hand and three wraps under his right hand. That’s great if that’s what’s comfortable for him or her. Remember, getting the right grip size is chiefly a trial-and-experimentation process, but building up the lower hand can be done to help a golfer who indicates that he is turning the ball over a little more than he or she would like.
So comfort and a golfer’s own preferred feel rule all in grip size/style fitting. That’s no news to most of you. What is worth your attention is whether you really do know exactly what grip size you prefer. If you do, you’re assured that you are getting the same size grips when you switch to a different shaft or club.
Because of the VAST amount of variation in shaft butt diameters today, the old tried-and-true procedures for calculating known grip sizes in club making are totally disorganized and confusing. It’s an area in club making that used to be very comfortably protected by standards upon which every company agreed, but it is yet another example of equipment specifications that are out the window these days.
For a very long time in this industry, a men’s standard grip was defined by a diameter of 0.900 inches at a point 2 inches down from the edge of the grip cap, coupled with a diameter of 0.780 inches at the 6-inch point down from the end of the grip. It was from this that the industry designations for under or oversize grip diameters were based. Thus a +1/32-inch (0.031 inches) oversize grip was 0.930 inches/0.810 inches at the 2-inch/6-inch positions respectively, and so on for each of the other common grip sizes.
Ensuring the accurate size was easy. Pretty much all X-flex shafts were made with a 0.620-inch butt, S-flexes were 0.600 inches, R’s and A’s were 0.580 inches and L-flexes were 0.560 inches. To match to this, grip companies made their men’s grips with core sizes to match. Men’s grips were available with 62, 60 and 58 core sizes, and women’s grips had a 56 core size. Match the core size to the butt diameter, use one wrap of 2-way grip tape and you ended up with the standard men’s or women’s size every time.
Oversize grips were created by applying layers of masking tape to achieve the desired increase in the butt diameter to stretch the grip larger in diameter. This, too, was pretty much a standard since virtually every roll of paper masking tape was made with a thickness of 0.005 inches. Hence, for each layer of masking tape wrapped around the butt, the shaft diameter increased by 0.010 inches. And from this came the vernacular of 3 wraps makes a +1/32 inches oversize, 6 wraps makes a +1/16 inches oversize, and so on.
Shaft butt diameters are all over the place now. Different model shafts of the same flex can now range in butt diameter from 0.580 inches to 0.640 inches. Not only that, but masking tape has been cheapened so much over the years that it’s tough to find a roll with the same 0.005-inch thickness as was so common before.
Most masking tape is 0.003 inches thick. Then you have the trend of the grip companies to mold separate grips to “midsize” or “oversize” diameters. Just how large IS this or that grip company’s mid or oversize molded grip?
Here we have one more club spec that used to have standards agreed upon by all that no longer exists. No more is “3 wraps a +1/32” or any other wraps versus size designation. To be sure you get the same exact grip size on all clubs/shafts you play, the only solution is to:
Make note of the butt diameter on the shafts you play.
- Note the core size of the grip you use. Typically, this will be seen as a 2-digit number on the underside of the mouth of the grip: 58, 60, 62.
- Make note of the thickness and number of wraps of tape used.
- Take a final micrometer or calipers measurement of the outside diameter of the installed grips done at different points along the length of the grip.
When you change clubs or shafts and find the butt diameters are different, ensure you get the same final grip size by calculating the combination of butt diameter, tape thickness and final calipers measurement. More work, in other words, but it’s now what’s necessary.
So the next time you tell your club maker your preferred grip size is an XYZ grip with X number of wraps and the grips turns out not quite right, you know why.
- What length should your clubs be?
- What lofts should your clubs be?
- Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
- The best way to fit lie angle
- How to choose the right club head design
- Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
- Getting the right size grip, time after time
- What shaft weight should you play?
- What swing weight should your clubs be?
- What shaft flex should I use?
This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.
Ways to Win: Headstrong – Bryson DeChambeau flexes his mental muscle
Much was made as to whether Bryson DeChambeau would be able drive the green of the par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill Club & Lodge at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. The 565-yard sixth horseshoes around a large lake, presenting a daunting challenge for mere mortals. As the crow flies, the green is just a mere 344 yards away, according to the Course Explorer in V1 Game. This gives new meaning to the term ‘reachable par 5’ as under the right conditions, DeChambeau is able reach the par 5 with a single shot. Those conditions did not present themselves until Saturday afternoon when DeChambeau unleashed a beastly drive that easily carried the water and ended up almost 380 yards just to the right of the bunker short of the green.
DeChambeau threw both arms up in celebration knowing full well that he is changing the way the game is played. However, it was not his physical strength that won the tournament this week, but his mental strength.
Bay Hill proved to be its own beast on Sunday with the scoring average at almost 75.5 and not a single player breaking 70. On a day more suited to patience and plodding, DeChambeau proved his mind to be just as strong as his body against an unlikely opponent in 47-year-old Lee Westwood. The two were never more than a stroke apart, though it seemed like DeChambeau was comfortably on top for a good part of the day. At several points, DeChambeau seemed to be poised to give strokes back to the field, but showed he can bomb more than his driver, dropping putts of 37 feet and 50 feet on holes 4 and 11. The putt on the 11th hole was critical to maintain the lead and keep momentum. In all, DeChambeau made 136 feet of putts on Sunday. Just what he needed on a day of grinding out pars. In fact, he parred the last 12 holes to close out the victory. DeChambeau is certainly known more for his driving than his putting, but when it mattered DeChambeau gained 1.9 strokes putting on a typical PGA Tour field according to his Sunday V1 Game round summary. DeChambeau putted well when it mattered most, finishing the week 21st in Putting.
DeChambeau did finish the week 1st in strokes gained off the tee and continues to use his work in the gym to his advantage. Despite Bay Hill having many holes requiring less than driver off the tee, DeChambeau still averaged over 300 yards off the tee each of the 4 days. He fully flexed his muscle on the last two days, cutting the corner on the 6th hole with Max Drives of 378 and 376 yards according to the Driving Distance plot from V1 Game. On Sunday, his drive on the 6th hole found the bunker just short of the green and was 168 yards closer to the hole than Lee Westwood’s tee shot. 168 yards! Still, golf is a game of precision and after two shots, both players were within a few yards of each other off the green and both made birdie.
Which leads to the last point… What DeChambeau is doing with the driver is amazing. In the weeks he is ‘on’, DeChambeau has an ability to separate from the field and guarantee he gains significant Strokes Driving on the field. However, he has his off weeks where that distance and speed will cost him a chance to compete as he sprays the golf ball off the course. The key though, is Approach Game. Bryson’s ball striking with irons and wedges is certainly his current weak spot. He has found a way to get the putts in the hole when it matters, but he consistently loses strokes between approach and short game. Looking at his performance this week, Approach (9th) and Short Game (30th) were good enough, but not great. As he adjusts to his newfound distance, I expect his Strokes Gained Approach to continue to improve.
Bay Hill is not a golf course that was going to be overpowered. It took mental strength and clutch putting to tame the course and shoot the best round of the day on Sunday, holding off Lee Westwood by a single stroke. DeChambeau has put in the work in the gym, with numbers off the launch monitor, and statistics on knowing his tendencies and when to take risks.
If you want to know your numbers and tendencies like Bryson, V1 Game can measure every facet of your game and get you to dominate the course. Whether it’s tracking driving distance gains or clutch putting, V1 Game can guide your practice and track your progress.
Club Junkie: Reviewing Mizuno M-Craft Putters, Callaway and Srixon golf balls, and MySIM2 is here!
First holes of the year have been played and things went well. Mizuno’s M-Craft putter line is solid and very responsive. Callaway’s new Chrome Soft X LS is low spinning and surprisingly forgiving off the tee. Srixon’s new Z Star is a great, soft feeling ball that offers a lot of greenside spin and control. The MySIM2 custom driver I ordered came in and looks AWESOME! I went fully murdered out, but you can go as crazy as you want with colors!
The Wedge Guy: Your driver – Is it your first scoring club?
I made another visit to “Oz” yesterday, as I took time out from my business trip to Dallas to look inside a PGA Tour Superstore. As I wandered around, looking at what must have been a million dollars or more in inventory, I determined not much has changed in this business since I first started writing this blog over four years and 500 articles ago. So this morning’s blog is a revisit of a topic I wrote about way back then, which still holds true today. It was about thinking of your driver as your first scoring club.
I take great issue with the industry’s extreme, and almost complete focus on distance – not just with the driver, but with the irons as well. Without picking on anyone, some new irons have “P-clubs” 43 degrees of loft (which was an 8-iron when I was younger). Does that really help your game? Is a 6-iron easier to hit if you put an “8” on the bottom? No.
But where this quest for distance is abused the most is on drivers. We see the average driver in the store at 46-47” in length now, when the old standard was 43”, then 44” up to about 6-8 years ago. And average golfers are buying them like hotcakes. But do you realize that very few tour players are using a driver over 45” in length? Why? Because they know they cannot be reasonably accurate with longer drivers! So, if the tour players know they can’t control a driver that is 46-47” long, what the heck makes amateurs thing they can?
A few years ago, GolfSmith did an extensive live golfer test at their huge facility in Austin, Texas, where they had hundreds of golfers hit drivers of all sizes, shapes and lengths. They found that almost every golfer achieved his best average driving distance with drivers that were 43-1/2” long! Now, that was when 45” was the new “standard”, but the point remains clear to me:
Your driver is probably too long for you to hit efficiently!
The fact is, no matter what the technology, a ball hit squarely and solidly will be longer than one hit around the perimeter of the face. And you’ll hit more solid shots if your driver was shorter. You can prove this to yourself. In your next round of golf, grip down on your driver a full inch—or even two—every time you hit it. I’ll bet you’ll find that you hit more solid long drives than you have in some time. And your accuracy will be much improved.
Regardless of your skill level, there isn’t a golf course anywhere that doesn’t play easier from the fairway than it does from the rough, bunkers, OB, water, etc.
In my own case, I did this with three different drivers, and found that with each one, my best performance came when I was gripping the driver to effectively make it 44-1/4” long. I’ve been a scratch or low-handicap player my whole life and historically am a very good driver of the ball. As I began to take advantage of the new technology I found my driving accuracy failing, and I didn’t like it. So, I just began to grip down on these long drivers and my accuracy came right back, without a loss of distance!
Oh, and there’s another significant side benefit to this alteration to your driver. When you shorten it, you can use lead tape to bring the swingweight back up to where it should be. By positioning those few grams of lead tape strategically on the clubhead, you can bias your driver for a draw (weight in the toe) or fade (weight in the heel). You can also place the lead tape in the back of the head for a higher ball flight if you need it, or right on top of the crown behind the face for a lower ball flight.
It’s fun to tinker, and I trust you will find this driver tuning to be interesting and beneficial. And about that title of this article? If you don’t think the driver is your first scoring club, review your last round and count the penalty shots from the tee, and those holes where you took yourself out of play with your tee shot.
Rickie Fowler WITB 2021: New driver, irons…pretty much everything
Driver changes for Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas at the 2021 Phoenix Open
Farmers Insurance Open Tour Truck Report: Details on Adam Scott’s AutoFlex experiment, Jon Rahm’s new putter (and shoes)
Brooks Koepka’s winning WITB: 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open
Jordan Spieth pulls off incredible 4-iron tee shot on 100-yard par 3 at Pebble Beach
PGA Tour pro slammed on social media for not wearing Tiger red at WGC-Workday
Interesting photos from the Waste Management Open Monday qualifier
Paul Casey’s winning WITB: 2021 Dubai Desert Classic
Jordan Spieth WITB 2021 (February)
Bubba Watson lights up TPC Scottsdale by hitting 16th green with DRIVER
Jon Rahm WITB 2021 (March)
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