Gripping a Hickory Club

This album shows the basics of how I grip hickory clubs. It's a fairly large one. As always, see the individual pictures and their captions if you want all the details, or skip if you don't want details. Comments and questions are welcome. This album covers from cutting grips up to the end of wrapping the grip on the club and tacking it. See Whipping the Grip on a Hickory Club for details on whipping grips. If you want to keep the existing grip, but it needs to be re-wrapped and tightened, see Remove / Tighten a Loose Grip.

Click the right and left buttons to scroll through the gallery.

I cut my grips from hides, and here you can see a selection of hides that I currently have, with grips cut from each. They basically go from thinnest on the left to thickest on the right. For putters I like to use thin 'book binding' leather (on the left). Then there are black and red 'glove leather' type hides, which I like for mashies, for example. And on the right, black and brown buffalo hide, which I find good for distance clubs such as brassies and mid-irons. I most often grip smooth side out, though I prefer suede side out for brassies and spoons, and sometimes use it for other clubs.

Here are the tools I use for cutting grips: a piece of wood to place under the hide, to give something solid to bear down on, a metal straight-edge for cutting, and a large Stanley knife. I cut my grips something over 30" in length (33" is good), roughly tapering from 1 1/4" at one end to 1" at the other end. I don't really measure any more, as I know what I want grips to look like, so it can just be 'eye balled'. The trickiest part is keeping the leather taut and still whilst it is cut - smooth it out well before starting, pull it to stretch it out, then let it spring back into a more natural tension, then trap it firmly between the straight edge and the backing wood. I did try shears at one point, but found this way much more likely to produce good useable grips.

This club had a brittle old leather grip on it, covered over with some kind of fabric tape. If re-gripping, I remove all the old material, whipping, leather, tape, listing, etc, then clean up the shaft gently with a scourer or a light sanding. I take care to remove old tacks. If they are good, I will save them to be re-used, but I am less bothered about this now I have a good source of 5mm and 7mm tacks from Etsy. The tacks from this club can be seen in front of the club, near the pliers, in this picture. They were too rusty to be worth saving.

Here is a collection of old gripping materials that I removed from clubs I was re-gripping recently. If possible I will save and restore old grips, but when the leather becomes brittle or tattered beyond a certain point, it is not really of further use.

In the later hickory era, roughly 1910 on, you will find that mostly there was nothing under the leather on the shaft but a little pitch smeared to help keep the leather in place. Early 20th century clubs often have cotton listing (cloth wound under the leather grip). 19th century clubs almost always having woollen listing under the leather, to make a fatter, softer grip. Mostly I just use friction tape, as shown here, under the leather when gripping. For 19th century clubs, I will cut woollen listing from old clothing (I still put friction tape on first).

The friction tape has a tapered end from when I finished off the previous club. I start wrapping this at the top of the shaft.

I wrap the friction tape around and start a spiral down the shaft.

I keep wrapping the friction tape in a spiral, generally not overlapping at all (unless I want to create a slightly thicker layer).

When I get to the bottom of the shaft area I want to cover with the grip, I mark the tape with a pencil.

Then I continue wrapping the tape, and when I get back around to my first pencil mark, I make a second mark on the next turn of tape.

Now I unwrap the tape, and use scissors to cut between the two pencil marks.

So here the tape has been cut off across the pencil marks to form a tapered end, and you can see on the shaft where it is intended to come to.

Now I wrap the tapered end of the tape round to finish off.

Here you can see the shaft covered evenly with friction tape over the area where the grip is to go.

This club is a Wright & Ditson Beeline 8, sort of a jigger type of thing. I'm going to use black buffalo hide to grip it, suede side out. Glove leather could also have been good, but my supply of glove leather is somewhat limited at the moment, so I am reserving it for mashies and similar currently, where I most like it.

I start by wrapping the slightly larger end of the grip round the top of the shaft in a 'mitre'.

I mark where the ends of the 'mitre' meet, so I can cut the end of the grip off to fit to the shaft.

I cut across, based on my pencil marks.

I deliberately leave a bit of a flat end at the end of this starting taper, rather than taking it to a point, so I can overlap a bit at the start of the wrap.

Now I put the end onto the shaft where I want it to be fixed. The friction tape helps to hold it whilst I do this. I will drill a pilot hole for the top tack, using a very fine bit in a pin vise (on the bench at right).

Here I am drilling the pilot hole through the leather into the wood (but not too deep).

Now I use tweezers to put a 5mm tack into the pilot hole, through the leather and into the wood.

I take the club and lay it on my little anvil.

And tap the tack home with a tack hammer.

Now I start to wrap the grip, overlapping a little at the top, where the tack is.

As soon as possible after I get past the tack, I wrap off the overlap, and start butting each turn of leather against the previous turn.

I continue to wrap down the shaft, stretching and pulling the leather tight against the friction tape, and butting each turn as neatly as possible up against the previous turn.

When I get to the bottom of the intended grip, as with the tape, I mark with pencil.

Now I wrap another turn, and make another pencil mark.

I unwrap the bottom part of the grip, and cut across between the two pencil marks.

In this case I cut as exactly as possible direcftly between the marks, making a pointed end to the taper.

Now I wrap the taper back onto the shaft.

And drill a pilot hole for the bottom tack with the pin vise.

I insert the bottom tack (again a 5mm tack from Etsy) using tweezers.

I lay the club again on my little anvil.

And tap the bottom tack home with a tack hammer.

Here is the finished grip on this club, ready for whipping, which I will cover in a separate album, as this one is already too long. (But see Whipping the Neck of a Spliced Wood for basic info about whipping.)

Ken Leedham, GHSC. If you have questions or comments, please email