Iron Grips – Mid size not just for giants.
I have to admit that I have not, in the past, paid enough attention to the feel, quality and performance of my iron/wedge grips. I’ve been guilty of using the same set of grips for 5 years or more.
A friend of mine bought a brand new set of Titleist AP2 irons and he immediately brought them to Golfsmith to get re-gripped. I asked him what the hell he was spending the money for and he said he likes the feel of mid-sized grips w two wraps of tape. It sounded like a major waste, but then I learned.
He’s considerably taller than I am and has considerably larger hands. Thus, I assumed he needed a much larger grip…until I tried the feel of his new grips one day on his wedges. I loved the feel of added control for the little shots around the green…it really felt great. I tried them on the chipping green and was immediately jealous.
First I went and had my 54 degree wedge and my 58 degree wedge re-gripped with Golf Pride “New Decade” Midsize with one wrap of tape. Perfect! *Midsize grips from Golf Pride are approx. 1/16th inch larger in diameter than standard size.
I was concerned that it would require some time to get used to on full shots but, not at all, no problems transitioning and the feel of added control is showing great results already. I immediately had the rest of the irons done and couldn’t be happier.
Point: Check out a slightly higher gauge grip, even if your hands aren’t huge, I bet you’ll love the feel and control.
Putter Grips – Over-sized and Non-tapered
At the risk of sounding like my solution to everything is fatter grips, this tweak is a small one and can pay dividends quickly. It does take some getting used to but, you really need to try it out.
Putter grip design has remained largely stagnant for…as long as I can remember. The typical thin, tapered, pistol style grip has been pretty much the standard for putter makers since the dawn of time.
For twenty years and 5 or 6 different putters, I’ve always used tapered pistol grips. I’m trying new things so I figured I’d take a closer look at Super Stroke grips which, on top of being thick, they’re also not tapered.
My concerns were that the thickness would damper the feel of the putter head and shorter putts would suffer because of the move to a completely new feel in my hands.
Well, none of this was true. The weight of the grip is very similar, to actually a little lighter, than a standard grip and the feel of the putter head was not at all diminished.
What about the shorter putts? It took about an hour to get the feel for the shorter putts and I actually have a new found confidence from within 8 feet. I find it far easier with the larger/non tapered grip to keep the back of the left hand moving towards the target.
On top of that, I am lag putting far better as well. I believe that the larger, consistently shaped grip won’t require as much twist during the takeaway on longer putts as a typical pistol gripped putter.
I also love the feel of more skin touching the surface area of the grip. I like the putter grip to be cleanly touching what I consider two important pressure points on the hands; the ball at the base of my right index finger and the ball of the thumb on the left hand. The larger surface area really accentuates those pressure points. I won’t be switching back any time soon.
Point: If you’re not an excellent putter right now, don’t shy away from fat grips. They’re awesome.
Wedge Selection – 54 and 58 is a winner.
For years I worked what I call a “1 wedge system” (other than P-wedge). I would use a gap wedge with 54 degrees loft and use it for almost all shots within 85-90 yards of the green, including bunker shots, pitch shots, flops and chip shots.
This works great when you a very flexible schedule to practice your scoring shots. It requires a lot of practice to get the feel of all those little shots with a variety of trajectories, check and roll. Once you add in varying lies, green speeds, firmness and grass types, you’re left with a lot to learn…and to practice.
When you look in an average golfer’s bag they typically have the standard 56 degree sand wedge and a pitching wedge, that’s it. Some adventurous players buy a 60 degree which spends 99.99% of its time in the bag because they can’t hit it.
I began using less lofted clubs on many shots around the greens, particularly when a) I have a lot of green to work with and b) when I have a steep uphill lie, which adds the loft for you.
The problem is, these days all the club manufacturers are moving to stronger and stronger high numbered irons and P-wedges. This is obviously to artificially add distance for a high handicapper. This leaves a very large gap between your pitching wedge and a 56 degree sand wedge that almost all golfer’s carry.
I added two new wedges last year a 54 degree and a 58 degree and I find this to be a perfect set up and one that is far more simple to execute scoring shots.
The 54 is still the go to for most shots but, the 58 is perfect for short bunker shots, mini explosion shots out of deep rough and the 40 – 60 yard shots that need to stop quickly.
It also allows for a much easier flop shot without the risk of getting the hosel involved when you open the face up. I love the 58 out of the sand as well, much more effective than the 56.
Point: You’re not stuck with the standard lofted wedges anymore. All major manufacturers offer 50 degree all the way up to 64 degree, in 2 degree increments. Try the 54 and 58 degree mix, I think you’ll like it.
Low Pro Golf Shoes – Have you ever golfed barefoot?
For years, golf shoes came in one style, classic white with a ton of support and about a half inch lift kit. If you were a golf pro, you may have had black or wing tip brown.
As I’m sure you’ve seen, golf shoes are getting a little more, colorful and sporty in 2013. I’ve never been stylish enough to consider a need for matching up my shoes with my particular colored shirt that day…just not for me.
But, I am interested in putting better and scoring lower. You may not consider your shoes an integral part of scoring in golf. Yes, they need to be comfortable for walking long distances and they need to provide protection against slipping when you change directions in your back swing.
Have you ever tried putting bare foot? Hopefully not on the green at your club. I do a lot of putting on my synthetic green at home and I can tell you when you start putting naked, you’ll like it. Not fully naked of course, just foot naked.
If you haven’t tried putting and chipping barefoot, you should give it a try and it will most likely cause you to consider a new golf shoe.
There are two main types of golf shoes on the market; “cleated” and “spikeless”.
Spikeless shoes are somewhat new and offer an alternative to the typical circular soft spike that requires the tool to change. They have a pattern of gripping nodules molded right into the sole of the shoe.
Cleated shoes are the types we’ve been used to for 15 years. They have the changeable twist in and twist out spike that does require the tool.
Both types of shoes come in a ton of styles and it’s really a matter of preference as to which design you choose.
The important thing to note is that “spikeless” seam to come in more styles which are light weight and very low profile. Low profile means closer to the ground and this means they allow for more of a barefoot feel.
The sense of control that is afforded by being closer to the ground is a high value feature on those little scoring shots, particularly putting and chipping.
Point: Barefoot putting and chipping is more comfortable but not realistic. Replicate barefoot putting by upgrading your golf shoes to a low profile model.
Personal Short Game Practice Center – Get deadly from inside 30 feet.
The one, overwhelming fact in golf is: He with the best short game wins. Period, end of story.
A 290 yard driver that leads to a missed green on your approach, which leads to a chunked chip and a subsequent 3-putt makes for a difficult day. The very fact that you nutted a driver makes that scenario even more disappointing….what a waste.
Getting the ball to fall into the hole is the objective.
The guy who scrambles the best, the one who hits 70% of his putts from within 8 feet and the one who chips it close consistently, will beat the bomber each and every day.
Putting and chipping is at the very core of scoring. Being good at putting and chipping requires practice however, it requires very little athletic ability.
Even though chipping is physically an easy thing to practice, practice areas devoted to chipping can be very difficult to find. Putting greens are present at almost every course but, 5 to 10 minutes before your round is nowhere near enough to get good.
Further, short practice sessions do not allow you to work on new things and try different grips or stances on different shots.
I’ve been using a very economical practice tool which has lowered my average scores into the mid to low 70’s for about a year.
A chipping pad with two surfaces, tight lie and rough, and a simple piece of high quality putting turf. The turf is 3′ 9″ x 18′ and the chipping pad is 3′ x 4′.
I can practice about 12 or so different little scoring shots with this set up and it cost under $500. By far the best investment you can make in your short game. I move the chipping pad back and practice chip and run shots of 30’+ in length.
Since I started using this chipping and putting set up I’ve moved my scrambling percentage from Par or Better 34% of the time to Par or Better 61% of the time.
Point: I’m not suggesting that you don’t practice your long game, only that if you’re serious about lower golf scores, you need to spend far more time on your short game.