My father was many things, but a car lover was not one of them. Hence I grew up believing the Nash Rambler was a fine automobile and was quite pleased with my first car purchase, a 1975 Toyota Corolla that cost $500. That car was followed by a Datsun B210, Ponitac Catalina and Subura DL . When I finally got a job that paid reasonably well I decided it was time to step up my game. Despite knowing it was a poor investment I happily slapped down cash for a 6 year old BMW 535i. Black exterior with black leather, yup, it was beautiful. I loved that car, but fidgety German engineering made it the “ultimate maintenance machine”, so after 4 years I gave up and sold my dream car. Since that time, I have forgone leather seats and while I tell myself I don’t really care about leather, the fact that is that is a lie.
From the dawn of man (well somewhere in early man time), leather has been a premium substance. Leather coats, leather shoes, leather gloves and of course leather seats all represent the finest of quality. Beyond the finer things, if you look at sports equipment in general, what do you find? Leather. Leather footballs, leather soccer balls, leather baseballs, basically any ball that you need “feel” is made from leather. Why then do we put rubber grips on our golf clubs? Sure, rubber is cheap, sticky, and holds up well, but in the end it is still rubber. Maybe it is time to take some advice from Tom Haverford.
Best Grips was founded by a Albert Sewell, who at the tender age of 13 realized he preferred leather grips over conventional rubber. Not satisfied with just any leather grip, Albert started to tinker with different textures and treatments (I am presumably skipping ahead a few years as I would hope he had better things to do with his teenage years). In 2008 he founded Best Grips and since that time the company has expanded their product line.
Best Grips currently offers six different grips for irons. What I find interesting is that each one is very unique not just in texture but in concept. Specifically, Best Grips borrows from familiar sporting goods to create such grips as the Grid Iron and Hard Court grip which share the characteristics of a football and basketball respectively. To me this makes perfect sense; both of those balls provide excellent feel.
In addition to the unique textures offered by Best Grips, they also treat many of them with ProTac which makes them tacky when they get wet. Actually, I have found the grips to be fairly tacky regardless of moisture but they do recommend wiping the grips with a wet towel every few weeks. With that said, I have been using the Best Grips for nearly 3 months and I can tell you with certainty that the grips have retained nearly all of the original tackiness despite my less than perfect maintenance record. To be honest, I have cleaned them only twice so I don’t think you have to worry about being a super clean freak.
The grips I installed are MicoPerf but are part of a special collection called Augusta Club Grip that will be available April 1st 2014. While these are special edition, nearly all of the Best Grips, come in a number of colors and can be customized with contrasting stitching. It just so happens that mine are Masters Green and kinda money!
From a feel standpoint, I noticed the difference right away when compared to rubber grips. For one thing, the lacing on the underside of the grip fits perfectly in your fingers to give you a sense of connection to the club. The other difference between the Best Grips and most other leather grips is the fact that they are not wound around the club which can lead to separation between the seams. Rather, the Best Grips are a single piece of leather that stitched together down the length of the grip which helps with durability.
Beyond the leather, this was the first time I ever played with grips that had stitching. For me, I instantly loved the look and the feel. Specifically, I found that when I set up for a shot, especially a tricky one, it helped me to get a feel for the club. Sensing the stitches in my grip brought consciousness to my hands and allowed me to feel “locked in” to the impending shot. Yea, it sounds hokey but I have never really thought much about the grip at address until recently.
Price and installation are not much different than standard grips. The cost is maybe $4 or $5 more per grip, but I never understood the concept of cheaping out on anything involved with irons or putters. Face it, they are your babies, they are what you keep for years . . . why not get exactly what you want even if it costs a little more?
Grip installation is done with an air gun and it is not particularly difficult. I did mine in about 30 minutes with the help of a friend. NOTE: you will need to use double sided tape and solvent. The only cautionary tale is to be a little gentle but honestly we did not have any issues. If you prefer to have your grips installed professionally, just make sure the shop has experience with leather grips and uses an air gun.
In addition to leather grips, Best Grips has recently branched out to putter shoes and headcovers. I assume it seemed like a fairly obvious way to expand since they owned much or the required skill and machinery. Because Best Grips is expanding their capabilities at a very rapid rate, it is hard to give you an exhaustive list of what they can do. To date, I have seen a few different headcover designs and models. Each one is made from genuine leather which can be embroidered, over-stiched or even laser engraved.
While the embroidery was cool, it was something I have seen before. However, the laser engraving was a process I have yet to see in person. As an example, Best Grips sent us a Three Guys Golf logo driver cover that included my signature. Holy cow, I would have never thought this to be possible but all I had to do was to scan a piece of paper that included my John Handcock (no I did not practice 20 times…only 12). The results are pretty cool even if my chicken stratch signature leaves much to be desired.
Bottom line is that the guys at Best Grips can pretty much create anything you can dream up. Being a small shop they are willing to work with you to find your ideal grips and headcovers. These guys, specifically Albert, are incredibly passionate about their product. Whether you want exotic skin grips, pink stitching, or a picture of your cat engraved on your headcover, Albert will make it happen.
You can check out all their products on the Best Grip website but I would also encourage you to reach out via email or twitter with any questions – they are super responsive.