Roughly 60 balls into my twice-weekly bucket of twice as many, a fellow golfer spotted my frustration and agony from the other side of the driving range. He made his way over to me and confidently declared, “You have a blister,” as I considered my best Captain Obvious comeback. “Let me see your club,” he continued, taking the club from my hand before I could even tell him he was right. “These grips are terrible,” he concluded after a very brief examination.
“Here, try my club.” His pitching wedge had a jumbo grip on it, which felt bizarre after years of using standard grips, but sure enough, blister be damned, the swing was fine, the ball went straight, and my hand felt mostly pain-free. “A lot of golfers don’t realize how important grips are,” he said as we exchanged clubs again. “Get yourself the right set of grips on those clubs, and you’ll be much happier on the course.”
As soon as I was back at my computer, the quest for the right grips began, but I wasn’t just looking for the right feel. I always need the right look, too. My polos are fun, my bag is fun, and my club covers are fun. There’s no such thing in my game as matching, and I don’t give a hoot if my gear clashes a little. My golf icon is more Al Czervik than Arnold Palmer, so everything in my game needs color, character, and a touch of craziness with all the bells and whistles.
At face value, that certainly describes Ripit Grips. This Australian company has created a variety of grips that are fun, quirky, and even a little bit lewd, but these designs were developed to help golfers display their personalities through their clubs, which you don’t see much in the old school name brands. The Judge Smails crowd might not like these, but the weekend warriors who just want to crush it, Bryson style, are going to love this look.
But fun only gets you so far down the fairway. Performance plays the biggest role, and even though getting your clubs regripped isn’t that expensive, it’s still a huge decision. It’s like getting a tattoo—these things aren’t permanent, but they’re a B-word to remove. Fortunately, mine aren’t going anywhere.
My new range friend offered his advice right before I acquired a new set of clubs, so I first stopped by the local sporting goods store, purchased a few jumbo grips and the do-it-yourself kit, and then returned home to perform some experiments in my garage. I popped the jumbos on my old Nike irons, waited until they were set, and returned to the range. Yes, they were a little more comfortable, but they weren’t right.
Fast forward two months and my Ripit Grips were installed on my new Takomo Golf irons, and they instantly passed the personality test when the guy at the pro shop raved about the cool designs. The first thing I loved about ordering the iron set from Ripit was that you can mix and match, so all eight clubs can be the same or different, which is great if Mary Jane isn’t your bag, or if you want to go heavy on Uncle Sam or Bloody Ripper.
Finally, it was time to find out if the performance matches the personality. As always, I am not a golf expert, so I base my conclusions on simple factors. In this case, I made a list of questions to answer once I hit 10 balls with each club that was rocking a new style:
Do they feel better than the old grips? Substantially. I don’t know if the specific patterns are conducive to a smoother experience or if it’s just that the combination of natural and synthetic rubbers are simply that much better than the standard alternatives. Either way, they feel smoother and that inspires more confidence in my swing.
Did they upset that one spot on my right hand that always blisters? Not yet. Fingers crossed that it remains this way. Nothing worse than having to mummy wrap with golf tape before each round.
Do they feel durable? This was probably my biggest concern, because sometimes gimmick brands lean more toward novelties, which means the fun only lasts so long. But after several rounds, my confidence growing with each swing, I’m immensely impressed with how clean and consistent the grips feel. There’s no wear, scuffing, or loss of color after several months of regular use, but I still have the Florida summer ahead. Things could change, but I really doubt it.
How do they handle the elements? That’ll be tested more in the months ahead, but they’ve already been exposed to a few rainy rounds, and all is well. If anything, the combo of new clubs and grips has made me more inspired to properly clean and maintain them between rounds.
What do I love the most? Feeling like I’ve created my own clubs. They’re fun, the Ripit Grips create a conversation, and most importantly they feel great. As an average golfer, I can’t ask for anything more than that. Unless, of course, there’s a magical grip out there that would do the golf equivalent of the movie Like Mike.
Until then, these will do just fine.