Game Changers in Golf: Evolution of the Golf Grip
If you research the history of golf clubs and golf grips, you’ll find that the earliest golf clubs did not have grips. Golfers would wear gloves to protect their hands from the exposed wood shaft and to create an element of friction.
At some point, sheep farmers of Scotland started gripping their homemade wooden sticks with leather wraps as grips. Leather was used as the grip of choice for years. In 1925, Elver Lamkin, began crafting premium leather grips in the garage of his suburban Chicago home and established Lamkin, the first original golf grip manufacturer. A lot has changed since then.
In 1949, Thomas L. Fawick, an industrialist and inventor from Cleveland, Ohio, thought that rubber might be a better alternative to leather for golf grips, by providing a more secure and durable gripping surface. He entered into a manufacturing agreement with the Westgate Rubber Company based in Akron, Ohio. The companies merged, and Fawick created a new entity within his business empire, called the Fawick Flexi-Grip Company.
Early on the trade name ‘Golf Pride’ was chosen and initial models were molded directly to the club shaft. The new rubber grips became popular not only because they provided improved feel and durability, but they were lighter in weight than traditional leather grips, absorbed shock more effectively, and provided a more positive, high traction gripping surface.
In 1953, the first slip-on grip was introduced. This was a major development at the time and the impact was significant and lasting. Convenience of the new slip-on grip immediately changed the lead-time and economics in manufacturing golf clubs. It also made grip replacement a staple service in golf shops, as a quick and inexpensive way for golfers to update their equipment.
By the mid-1950’s, a number of golf club manufacturers had switched to the slip-on grip. In 1958, Tommy Bolt posted an impressive four-stroke Victory in the U.S. Open and it became the first win in a “major” by a player using the new grip.
By the 1960s, the slip-on rubber grip had proven itself at every level of usage, on the club assembly floor, in the club repair shop, at Tour and other competitive golf events, and among golfers in general. All the major grip companies now offer a wide selection of grips based on firmness, grip material and surface texture.
Advanced grip technology has allowed Bloodline Golf to design its new Vale putter with an ultra-light carbon fiber shaft and EVA grip with an ultra-sensitive feeling wrap that provides firm feedback to the hands. This shaft and grip configuration along with patented head, sole, and balance point design features allows the putter to stand alone in the address position.
This technology allows you to address a ball as if you’re going to make a putting stroke, set the club head down on the green, step away to line up your putt from behind the ball then step in to putt it.
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Photo Credit: Golf Digest