August 2008 Golfsmith Clubmaker Back to Main
clubmaking tip
Grasping Grip Size Continuity
by: Bill Totten
Master Clubmaker

One of the main principles I teach in Golfsmith's Clubmaking Schools is continuity. Continuity in this context concerns the components of the golf club and their specifications. As the component business has become more sophisticated and challenged by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), we see more golfers with sets that are very diverse, composed of numerous different shafts and heads for special situations or specific shots. In most cases, this philosophy is detrimental because the result is a bag of too many dissimilar shafts, grips and head types.

Years ago, golf clubs were sold in sets, in which most of the components were similar. Each club was different from the others by design, through loft and length, but employed similar grips, grip size, shaft weight and flex, unlike today's smorgasbord. A true set follows that model, in which each club has a similar feel. So where does a golfer start if they want to dial in their clubs and start down the road to this kind of true continuity? Where every teacher of the game begins: the grip.

One of the biggest issues with modern sets, in which there are as many different shaft types as there are colors in the rainbow, is that very rarely do the butt diameters of all these shafts match up dimensionally. Even though the golfer may have the same grip type on every shaft, the finished size of each grip will vary according to the differences in the sizes of the shaft butt diameters. To control the final grip size, some thought has to be put into the specific grip that is purchased.

Clubmakers who attend our Clubmaking Schools learn about shaft butt diameters and the grip's core. Shaft butt diameters are similar to everything else in life; the bigger the measurement, the larger the diameter. However, with grips, the opposite is true. It's counterintuitive, but a grip with a .58 core has a thicker wall than a grip with a .60 core. This is because the .58 installed on a .580" shaft will yield the same finished size as a .60 core grip installed on a .600” shaft. Since the .600" shaft is larger than the .580" shaft and the finished grip is equal, the grip wall on the .60 grip must be thinner.

Here's an example. A golfer buys 13 .58-core grips and installs them on his golf clubs. When he's finished with the project, his sensitive hand detects four different-size grips. The driver shaft is .620", which results in a finished grip size of .940, or +4 wraps. The irons, with .600" shafts, end up with a .920 finished grip size, or +2 wraps. The hybrid is a .910" shaft, which yields a .930", or +3 wraps. Finally, the old sand wedge that just can't be replaced has a .580" shaft and ends up at .900", which is a standard men's grip size.

Most golf component catalogs list grips in order of core size. If a grip is available in many sizes, the .58 will usually be listed first. Unfortunately, the only butt diameter for which a .58 will yield a standard size grip is a .580". Since the majority of men's golf shafts are .600" and above, every one of these grips will end up larger than men's standard.

Continuity in grip size need not be a chore. First, measure all the butt diameters of the shafts in the golf bag. Most will be between .600" and .620". Next, figure the final grip size that is necessary for all clubs. Yes, they do need to all be the same. On average, a .920" (+2 wraps) is most common, and for this example, that is what we will use.

The .60 grip installed on the .620" butt diameter will yield .920" finished. For any .600" shafts, simply apply two wraps of ordinary masking tape prior to the two-sided tape, and the grip should end up at .920". Most masking tape averages .005" thick, and one wrap will increase the shaft butt diameter by .010" since it is being measured on both sides of the shaft. To ensure accuracy, always install the masking tape on the shaft and measure the shaft butt diameter with calipers or a butt gauge before installing the two-sided tape. And make sure it is very close to .620" before installing the two-sided tape and the grip.

Men's Grip Sizes Women's Grip Sizes
Grip Shaft Total Grip Shaft Total
M58 0.580" 0.900" L56 0.560" 0.850"
M58 0.600" 0.920" L56 0.580" 0.870"
M58 0.620" 0.940" L56 0.600" 0.890"
M60 0.580" 0.880" L58 0.560" 0.830"
M60 0.600" 0.900" L58 0.580" 0.850"
M60 0.620" 0.920" L58 0.600" 0.870"
M62 0.580" 0.860"      
M62 0.600" 0.880"      
M62 0.620" 0.900"      

*.900" is the standard size for men; .850" is standard on ladies clubs.

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