When Bryson DeChambeau won the NCAA men's individual golf championship, the makeup of his equipment made his win even more fascinating. The SMU product, a disciple of Homer Kelley and the Golfing Machine, plays 14 clubs that are all the same length. He also uses super oversized grips to take the hand action out of the swing.
While I wasn't about to chop down all of our clubs to the same length and spend months tinkering with weights to experiment with DeChambeau's approach, we were intrigued to try the JumboMax grips that are on his clubs. For me, the JumboMax grips made sense because of my tendency to mistime with my wrist with woods in my hand, leading to an unreliable dispersion field with the two longest clubs in the bag -- and the ones that set me up to score. The theory was that, by putting these grips only on my driver and 3-wood, that I would find more fairways and score better.
That turned out to be right.
The folks at JumboMax sent me a pair of plus-5/16th-inch grips to try, which is a medium grip in their product line, which ranges in four sizes, small to extra large, that change in diameter by 1/16th of an inch per size. For me, a 6-foot-2 guy with good-sized hands, the medium grip was just right.
When you first look at the grip on the club, it looks gawdy, like you threw an ornament on it. Gripping it for the first time is awkward, particularly, if you have larger hands, because you expect to be able to get your hands halfway down either side of the grip. It just didn't happen, so the idea of gripping-and-ripping went away immediately. Instead, you're forced to make a firm grip that doesn't seem like you're choking the club. That's a big problem in particular with my 3-wood, which I have a tendency to duck hook in an effort to turn over off the tee and from the fairway.
Plain and simple, I have been hitting more fairways with the JumboMax. The grips feel good in your hands and have plenty of tack so that you never feel you're not in control of the club. Of course, you could ask me why I just don't swing smoother and take the hands out of the metalwood swings on my own. For me, the JumboMax grips give me a psychological ease that lets me just swing the club and send the ball down the fairway. I still want to use my hands with my irons and wedges, just not off the tee, where position is key. Shape tends to matter elsewhere.
I have given up some yards off the tee with the JumboMax. I can't easily hold the wrist angle and release late in the driver swing. That extra gear isn't there. That costs me about 10-15 yards, though not routinely. However, I tend to make better, consistent contact, so that pulls up the overall average and saves me strokes by keeping me out of place since I'm not Rick Vaughn-ing my way around the course.
In the end, I've walked away from this experiment with a new theory about golf grips. Grips should be larger with the longer clubs and get smaller throughout the bag. As distance becomes less important and the need for precision goes up, the hands should be closer to the actual club. So far, that theory is working for me.
A set of 13 JumboMax grips goes for $135, but you can get a trial kit of two grips for $20. I'd recommend starting with the trial kit, then deciding if the grips make sense for you and on how many clubs.