Sure, the economy's tough right now. But just because many golfers can't justify buying a new set of clubs at the moment, that shouldn't stop them from playing clubs that feel factory fresh. The solution: Get new grips for a fraction of the cost of new clubs. And the three largest grip manufacturers–Lamkin, Winn and Golf Pride–are offering some eye-opening new products this year that you'll want to get your hands on.
Lamkin's touting a new material, coined 3GEN, which stands for third generation, in two of its latest grips. 3GEN is a synthetic rubber that's both soft and tacky, meaning it absorbs plenty of impact vibration, making all shots feel soft. It's also low in torque, so it won't feel as if it's turning in your hands at impact, as some softer polyure-thane grips do. And it's durable and fade-resistant, to boot. Here's the kicker: When you wipe the material with a wet cloth, the tackiness reactivates to day-one fresh.Lamkin N-Dur
That explains why the two grips mentioned–Lamkin's new Performance Plus with 3GEN model and Lamkin's N-DUR model, for woods and irons–are both white. The color was deliberately chosen to encourage you to wipe them with a wet cloth and then dry them whenever you see them begin to get dirty, as white grips will do. They'll feel and look new. "The 3GEN material is very functional; it's not just a great-feeling material," says Bob Lamkin, president and CEO of Lamkin Grips. "This isn't just another white grip on the market; it's a material advancement. We were able to develop a mate-rial in a color compound that still maintains the playing characteristics of a black rubber grip. The color compound we developed in 3GEN maintains longevity, and the grip keeps its playability without wearing out prematurely due to the ozone. What we traditionally did to achieve color grips is pull properties from the materials, which resulted in premature wear and hardening. Not this time." Bottom line: You get maximum hand traction with very little squeezing.Winnlite firm
The Performance Plus with 3GEN's textured surface is designed to help you set your fingers in a position that eases hand pressure, tension and fatigue. Its reduced taper allows your hands to work together as one unit, providing more control over the club with less grip pressure. The N-DUR has a dual surface pattern: The underside's aggressive surface differs from the top's smoothness, but they work together to alleviate hand tension and add traction where needed, which, in turn, helps you swing easier. It, too, has a reduced taper–the lower-hand area is slightly larger with less taper.Winnlite medium
Another new grip from Lamkin is the Mega-Lite 2TEN oversized, lightweight putter grip. "It takes the wrists out of your putting stroke, marrying your hands as one unit without the usual oversized grip drawbacks of being heavy and changing the feel," says Lamkin. "It's 40 percent lighter than a standard oversized putter grip, and weighs the same as a standard-sized grip. So you'll still have great feel and benefit from the oversized grip."Golf Pride Tour Wrap 2G
Winn's push for 2010 is its new WinnLite Grip Technology, created by an advanced injection molding process that the company says significantly reduces grip weight to help golfers increase clubhead speed and generate more distance. A lighter grip essentially shifts the club's balance point downward, which, in this case, increases the launch angle for higher ballflight while enhancing clubhead feel, according to the company. WinnLite grips– available in WinnLiteFirm (featuring V17-PolyCord material), WinnLiteMedium (featuring V17 material) and WinnLiteSoft (featuring V17-Soft material)–weigh as little as 25 grams, which is about half as much as conventional rubber grips.Golf Pride Tour Wrap 2G
"WinnLite Grip Technology is a breakthrough in golf equipment," says Dr. Ben Huang, president and CEO of Winn Incorporated. "WinnLite grips offer about half the weight of conventional grips. Total weight becomes lighter, swing weight is higher, and the kickpoint of the shaft is moved more toward the head. Golfers can feel and control the head and increase club swing speed, accuracy and distance." Lightness also is offered in Winn's new 62-gram JumboLite putter grip that's made of PCi Triple Line material and patterned to enhance texture and feel.
Golf Pride revamped its one-piece, simulated-wrap Tour Wrap 2G grip for woods and irons this year. "We are excited to refresh and modernize the classic Tour Wrap after 20 strong years in our product line," says Dan Koehler, director of sales and marketing. "We slightly altered its material (it's a synthetic rubber) to bring out the more favored characteristics of the grip." Thus, it's now more tacky and softer than ever, and combines the look and feel of luxury leather with the durability and performance of high-tack rubber. It's offered in a range of sizes, including a new Jumbo with a straighter taper that allows consistent grip pressure for smooth, tension-free swings. "There's a growing segment of golfers seeking comfort," says Koehler. "A larger, softer and tackier grip like this helps alleviate the pain that a smaller, harder grip might cause. You don't have to hold this as tightly, so there isn't as much tension in your hands."Why should I consider thick grips?
Most people assume thicker grips are reserved for golfers with either huge or arthritic hands. And while a thicker grip diameter may help those types of golfers, thicker grips can do wonders for those who suffer from overactive hands or those who have a habit of regripping the club at the top of the swing. Some better players tend to put thicker grips on their wedges, as well, to help lessen the hand rotation on delicate, in-between pitch shots. So, if you find yourself occasionally pulling or hooking your shots, especially when it comes to midlength wedge and pitch shots, consider a midsize or even jumbo grip. And remember, even if you don't like the way it feels, you always can swap it out and go back to what you're used to. –Ryan Noll