August 04, 2014
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- K.J. Choi put the SuperStroke Fatso in play at the 2007 AT&T National. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
K.J. Choi didn't realize it at the time, but when he won the 2007 AT&T National with a hefty SuperStroke Fatso grip on his Odyssey Tri-Hot2, he became the forerunner for the large putter grip movement that's turned into one of the biggest equipment trends on the PGA TOUR this season.
Choi, who's known as one of professional golf's great tinkerers, started using the grip after seeing an infomercial for it on television in 2006.
"You know, when you watch informercials, half the time you don't believe it, half the time you believe it and you don't know what's right," Choi said back in 2007. "But I just kept on watching it, and I felt like -- I was convinced that it might work for me. So I ordered one.
"When I first got it, it was ugly, it was big. I didn't want to -- but I practiced with it and it actually felt good. So I kept with it, but I was too, you know, I wasn't sure if I could just bring it out on TOUR. I was very hesitant because it was so big and ugly. But I kind of gathered the courage to bring it out here and for me, it's all about business here."
The decision to use the grip paid immediate dividends, as Choi went on to win AT&T National in 2007, the Sony Open the following year and THE PLAYERS Championship in 2011.
According to Choi, what he really liked about the oversized grip was how it helped quiet his hands and reduced wrist movement during the stroke. Doing so allowed him to use his shoulders to rock back and through for a more consistent roll.
While the wins for Choi came within a few months after he started using the grip, SuperStroke Tour rep Arnie Cunningham said the oversized trend didn't gain traction until three years ago when Jason Dufner used one of the company's grips at the PGA Championship.
"We had seen some movement from players and wins from K.J. Choi, but what really got players interested was when Jason Dufner used the grip at the 2011 PGA. He led for most of the week before losing in a playoff and the grip was on television the entire week."
Since Dufner's near-miss at the PGA Championship, SuperStroke has become one of the most talked about products on TOUR. The last two major winners of 2013 used a SuperStroke grip on their putter, and the company routinely sees between 35-41 players using one of the company's grips each week on TOUR.
Cunningham said that along with the players using a SuperStroke grip, he typically has 8-10 players testing a grip each week, with 2-3 switching into one of the models.
One of those players who saw success with a SuperStroke grip in 2013 was John Deere Classic winner Jordan Spieth. The reigning PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year currently uses the Flatso Ultra, which happens to be one of SuperStroke's most popular models.
"Guys always seem to mention Jordan [Spieth] when they ask about the grip," Cunningham said. "It's just something that's never really been done before. It's flat on top, has a really nice feel on the back and some distinctive edges on the front of the grip that give it a totally different feel and more room to place your thumbs on the top of the grip, which a lot of the players liked."
What initially drew Spieth to the Flatso Ultra was how it felt in his hands and allowed him to get both thumbs on top of the grip.
"I was just looking for a change with the putter grip," Spieth said, "so I decided to switch to the Flatso Ultra last year at Colonial. I putt cross-handed and noticed that my thumb was drifting off the top on a smaller grip. This grip allowed me to get both thumbs on top of the grip without any problems, and get that feel and control."
SuperStroke's two midsize models, the Mid Slim 2.0 and Slim 3.0, have also been popular on TOUR and were used by Phil Mickelson and Jason Dufner to win majors last year.
Although SuperStroke is the most popular oversized grip on TOUR, it's not the only grip option. Winn's Pro X grip has a less tapered profile and comes in three different sizes. Lamkin also produces a Jumbo Oversize that's currently the largest and heaviest grip the company produces.
And then there's the counterbalance trend in oversized grips. With the USGA's anchored putting ban set to take effect in 2016, players are literally weighing their options by adding weightier oversized grips to heavier putter heads to achieve a counterbalanced feel that improves consistency during the stroke.
Boccieri Golf's 165-gram Secret Grip Jumbo has additional weight in the butt end for the counterbalance feel. Odyssey Golf also has a unique 15-inch adjustable grip that's currently on the company's Tank Cruiser putter.
Working with SuperStroke, Odyssey came up with a counterbalance design that features an adjustable weight port in the butt end of the grip that allows golfers to add 5 grams, 15 grams or 30 grams to the grip, depending on stroke and weight preferences.
"Players that use the long putter or anchor are constantly talking about what they're going to do when the ban comes in," Cunningham said. "There seems to be more guys going to the counterbalance out here with a little longer shaft and one of our grips. The weight has been key, but having a slightly larger grip that quiets the hands has also been a benefit as well."