On the trek to my wife’s high school reunion we took a slight detour to a town outside of Houston named Conroe. I wanted to go to Conroe so I could see Zach and his company Best Grips. By now, I hope you’ve realized that Best Grips makes grips. But what makes Best Grips different from every other grip company? The grips they make are made with leather.
We drove down a long winding road in Conroe looking for a large building with a big sign. What we found after 15 minutes and 3 trips past the same 3 houses was a small workshop tucked in the woods on a 2 lane road. After parking the car, I walked up to the workshop and was met by Zach. After we shook hands and did our introductions we got down to business.
According to his dad who also accompanied us, Zach has been playing golf competitively since he was 8 years old. After playing golf at a “small school” Zach became the US distributor for his now biggest competitor, Grip Master. When Grip Master wanted to focus on working with Scotty and other manufacturers, Zach decided he wanted to create his own company, and just like that Best Grips was born. Since then Zach has been making leather grips in his workshop following a fairly simple process.
Every grip starts out the same way: a roll of leather. A piece is cut off the roll and is then cut into strips. After he gets the strips cut, he moves into the dying process. Zach hand dips his leather into the dye and lest it sit for a little while. Once he achieves the color he is looking for, the grip moves into the most important part of the whole process. It is at this point he applies what he calls the “ProTac”. It’s a proprietary compound he uses to make the grips the tackiest you will find anywhere. What makes ProTac great is the compound gets soaked into the grip and keeps the grip tacky for the entirety of its life. Once the ProTac is applied, the high tech portion of the operation kicks in. A few yards away from the workshop is his house. On the back patio of the house are probably 20 clothes lines and easily 100 or more clothes pins. After the ProTac is applied the grips get hung on a clothes line to dry. That’s right: the grip dries like a pair of underwear in the 1930’s. After 2 or 3 days (depending on the Conroe weather) the grip is ready to be assembled. The underlisting is put into the holder and the leather is wrapped around it. Once the leather is placed on the underlisting it’s time for the grips to be stitched. Every grip from Best Grips is hand stitched by Zach, his girlfriend, or his girlfriend’s mom. No matter who stitched it, you can get the peace of mind knowing that it was one of these people who are very familiar with the product that handled it. After it is hand stitched together, the grip is sent to you and ready to go.
Best Grips makes standard club grips as well as putter grips. What you might not know is that, in addition to grips, they also make head covers and putter covers. Based on his product lines, Zach like to not only use plain leather but using some exotics, like alligator skin.
The grips have different types of leather you can choose from. They range from plain leather to some really cool leathers.
The most popular grip in the line is the Micro Perf. It’s has a great tacky feel due to the ProTac. I have to say, even though there are softer rubber grips, the Micro Perf a different kind of soft. The rubber almost feels squishy in comparison to these grips. These feel nice, tacky, smooth and soft to the touch. It also began to rain in the middle of the tour of the facility, and since the Performance Center is outdoors, I did get to try it in a damp condition. I have to say it performed beautifully in the rain. I would almost say it got tackier, which isn’t something you can say about a rubber grip.
The most similar thing to the Micro Perf that Best Grips makes is the Classic grip. It is a lot like the Micro Perf, it just doesn’t have the holes the Micro Perf does. I walked away impressed with this one as well.
The leather that was the coolest looking and feeling had to be the Gridiron grip. The Gridiron grip uses the exact same leather used on NFL footballs. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to ask how he got the same leather. He laughed and said he couldn’t tell me. This grip has the same ProTac as the others but I have to say despite it being really cool looking it may not be the best if you are playing in damp conditions. I’m not saying it slipped on me but there is a reason they prep NFL game balls as much as they do. The leather is naturally kind of slick. With that being said, the ProTac on the putter grip provided a great feel.
My personal favorite had to be the Major Leaguer. As the name suggests, it is the same leather used in baseball gloves. It sort of took me back to being a kid. I loved the smell and feel of a new glove. The only thing better than the smell of a new glove was the smell of a broken in glove. The Major Leaguer was my favorite putter grip and possibly my favorite club grip. It was soft and tacky with a perfect amount of feed back.
The shape of the grips are unique to Best Grips. They have a reduced taper design that Zach has named the Pro Taper. Better players usually add additional tape to the bottom half of their grip to reduce the taper and keep their hands quiet. With the Pro Taper design, this extra modification isn’t necessary anymore. I will also say these have a different feel than a rubber grip. Rubber grips are softer in a squishy sense. The grips will cost you quite a bit up front, but if you are following professional’s recommendations, you should be regripping once a year. As with most leather products these don’t seem to wear out. On the contrary, they really wear in after some play, making them feel great. Depending on the grip you use, regripping your irons can cost you up to 80-90 dollars. If you keep these grips for 2 years which isn’t uncommon they will have paid for themselves.
The Performance Center
Recently, Best Grips has opened a performance center. The performance center is outside the workshop and includes a launch monitor and a putting green. It is all outdoors so you want to make sure the weather will cooperate. With enough business, I can definitely see him expanding this and even making a store front to come buy the grips. Zach will get you on the monitor and help you figure out your lies as well as the grip that works best for your game.
Talking with Zach, you can’t help but get excited about the product. He has worked very hard to get to where he is. He has been working with T. P. Mills, who has been working with Odyssey and Zach will be creating a line for them. The grips that will be on these super premium putters will hopefully be Best Grips. He also works with Edel to make grips for them as well. Zach told me he likes working with the manufacturers, but his real passion lies with working with the everyday golfer. Despite the fact he charges tour players for his product some still decide they like it and want to use it. He doesn’t pay any one to play his grips; they do it because they like his product. I also asked if he expected to go big box retail and he said he doesn’t, simply because he doesn’t have the scale to mass produce the grips for a PGA Super Store or Golf Galaxy, and it seems he likes it that way. The future looks bright for Best Grips.
Check out Best Grips at bestgrips.com