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The leather grip may be almost as old as golf itself.  The gold standard of  the hickory and persimmon age, leather grips are now endangered but not extinct.  Many classic clubs remain available at modest prices and leather grips are abundant.  Occasionally, discerning golfers may desire to reuse old leather grips or replace spent grips with new leather.   Fortunately the traditional golf world is a small one and there are still clubmakers and craftsmen kind enough to share their knowledge with the rest of us.

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First up, Louisville Golf’s Mike Just shows us how to regrip a hickory shaft.

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Sometimes underlistings for the leather are hard to find.  Here’s one option as described by Euro Golfer Paul Vindeloo.

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Concerned that the PVC might impair feel?  Here’s an “old school” alternative for reusing leather grips (from a series of posts by Alec at ABS)

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Nice thought but the PVC will dull all the feel out of the shot plus it doesn’t taper with the shaft. There’s two ways to do it, one easy & one really hard..

Easy way is to install a cheapie Winn grip & then take off the wrap & rewrap the leather with another piece of tape, you can build it up however you want.

The other way is way old school & it’s how you get ‘the sound’ when the clubs rattle in the bag & that real sharp crisp clicky contact by getting the rubber off the club. Step one is the end cap since those are really extinct, you buy a bunch of plastic (or wooden, different sound & feel) round drawer knobs & sand them down into the shape & size of an end cap on a bench sander. Takes touch & trial & error, I’ve done 6 clubs this way & its so cool, might redo the rest this winter. Epoxy them in when the size is right with a snug fit down the shaft to the knob as you sand down the embedded end first. The underlisting is microfelt, the oldies were either felt or paper, I like the really really thin felt but the self adhesive kind won’t work as it bunches up when you wrap it around the shaft. If you’re going to build it up do it underneath the felt as a lot of tape on top of it will change the feet of the leather to crunchy and mushy. Size it & wrap the felt on & cut it with an Xacto knife so there’s no seam. Then a single wrap of double  sided tape & wrap away.  I’m not bothering with collars anymore, such a pain & black electrical tape is just as good without the hassle.

If you want to restore the leather the best way is to clean them before you remove them, remove them while damp then let them dry for 24 hrs. Then work the straps down with a lot of mink oil like a baseball mitt.  A lot of oil, then put them in open Ziploc bags 3 per & microwave each open bag for 45 sec, then seal them immediately & let them sit for 48 hrs. Keep repeating the process until you are satisfied with the results, usually takes about a week. After the saturation process let them airdry flat for another 24-48 before you rewrap them.  After they’ve been reinstalled if they’re greasy clean them once daily with soap & warm water until the tack comes back.

The old school method is a huge project probably as big a pain as redrilling heads but the results are so cool, when you hit balls you feel like you’ve been playing your whole life wearing oven mitts. Rubber kills feel as it is a shock absorber.

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Thought I’d finish this piece by showing a master at work.  Arnie was a notorious tinkerer and reportedly did most of his own club work.  Even after all these years, his fingers haven’t lost the feel.  Watching this guy wrap a leather grip is like watching Santana play the guitar.

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There’s nothing quite like the response you get from a leather grip.  I have a Neumann Calfskin on my Wilson 4300 that’s so tacky it locks my hands onto it like glue.  Every vibration is felt and there is never a doubt as to the quality of the strike.  While leather isn’t available as a stock option on new clubs, these videos show that there are still raw materials available and classic clubmakers have made their knowledge available to the next generation.  With the help of these resources and others, I see no reason why the tradition of leather grips cannot be extended into the modern age and beyond.

4 Responses to “Leather Grips for Classic Golf”

  1. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    Great post! I really enjoyed the vid of Arnie and Kelly. I think Jack and Arnie are one of the only few that still use leather today. I’ve got a really great old Mac Hogan that has a mint Neuman Leather grip like the one Arnie was putting on and the feel you get with that grip with persimmon gives you goose bumps when you hit it good. Personally I think its the ultimate feel. Arnie’s left hand grip looks a little strong,when he puts his hands on the club, but overall his grip is great.

  2. Avatar of steve zajac steve zajac says:

    Funny, drove past the Neuman factory building in hoboken nj on sunday………..are they out of business?

  3. I think they are still making leather goods but not golf grips. You certainly don’t see enough nowadays for them to be making money. Not 100% sure though.

  4. I repair, rebuild and restore older persimmon woods. I recently watched an Arnold Palmer presentation on YouTube(as above) on how he wraps golf grips with leather wraps. I have some new old stock rubber .580″ and .600″ underlistings and a nice set of Mens R/H 1950 MacGregor Tommy Armour 693′s that require new grips.
    I have read that Arnold Palmer has used only Lamkin grips his entire golfing career.
    I did contact Lamkin today(May 09th/13) and Cathleen replied,” Unfortunately, the leather wraps were discontinued a long time ago and the remaining inventory was sent to Mr. Palmer for his personal use.
    If you have any new old stock leather wraps and want to get rid of them, please write me.
    Max
    St. Catharines
    Maxwell1956@cogeco.ca

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