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August 2008 Golfsmith Clubmaker Back to Main
Faz–Fit Fittings
clubfitting tip
Round or Ribbed?
by: David Cersley

A Matter of Comfort

Ask golfers to change ball position, alignment, takeaway or posture, and most can quickly adapt. Ask them to change their grip position? Now, that's a challenge. It is without question the hardest change to make in golf. Why? Because the hands are what connects the club to the body. Change the grip, and now the hands are on the club differently. Suddenly the club does not feel it's on the same plane or path, even though they may be correct. As golfers, we like comfort; change the grip and all comforts are gone until the new grip becomes the new norm.

The same thing is true about ribbed or round club grips. Take a player who is comfortable with grabbing the club a certain way, change from round to ribbed or vice versa, and suddenly the comfort is gone. So how do we know which style is right for which golfer? Here are a few tips.

Ribbed Grips
An internal rib (flat surface)
runs the length of the grip.
Ribbed Grips

The ribbed grip is manufactured with extra material running the length of the grip's interior. This is usually done with a molding process in which the rubber is heated to a liquid form and injected around a form called a mandrel. In the case of ribbed grips, the mandrel has an internal rib or notch that runs along the entire length. This rib allows extra material to flow into the grip's inner cavity, creating a rib.

The purpose of this rib is to allow for consistent grip/club alignment. Some prefer to install a ribbed grip on the driver, feeling that it helps the hands stay quiet. Some like ribbed grips on their irons to create a feel for how much the face is open or closed, improving their ability to shoot draws or fades. The exception is wedges. Why? Most golfers play several shots with a wedge, and we like to lay the face open or de-loft it, depending on the required shot, without the grip dictating our setup.

Placing the rib in a nontraditional location creates a distraction. When replacing a set of ribbed grips, make sure you mark the location and the orientation of the old grip's rib on the shaft, so that the new grip's rib is aligned in the same way. There are special cases in which a player will spiral the rib so that it starts at 6 o'clock for the top hand and rotates to 5 o'clock for the lower hand. This allows the rib to lay across the same locations on both hands.

Round Grips
This round grip has a
consistent core diameter.
Round Grips

The round grip is manufactured with a consistent core diameter. Like ribbed grips, these are usually made with an injection molding process. The difference is that the mandrel is round and no notch or rib is removed from it for extra material. As with ribbed grips, they are available in various core diameters that target specific golfers.

I did some research and found that many players like round grips because shafts are round, and using the round grip allows them to feel more connected to the club. They say that ribbed grips make them feel forced into holding the club a certain way, not necessarily one that works for them.

How to tell the difference?

One advantage of round grips is that they can be installed logo up or logo down and still create the same feel in the hands and fingers. Players can alter their irons' and wedges' face angles at address to create the shot shape they want. Round grips are also very easy to install, and almost all have some alignment marks to show you whether the grip is installed square to the face angle.

The grip will be designated, for example, as either M60 or 60R. The M60 designation stands for men's .58 or .60, referring to the grip's inner core diameter. The R designation means ribbed. So the next time you are buying grips, make sure all the models have the same designation.

Again, the rib is a specific reminder for the individual, not your hands or eyes. The grip is a simple item to install, so take the extra time to install each with the rib in the correct orientation or the alignment marks straight. It is a signature of your work and represents the quality with which the clubs were fit and assembled.

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