No one should confuse the role in history being played by a Fairfield, Conn. tax attorney named John Garrity with that of the caveman who invented the wheel, but a recent Garrity creation may inspire the same annoyed reaction among modern-day golfers that the first wheel must have caused: "Why didn't I think of that?"
Garrity, an 8-handicap player who has struggled with the game since the late 1930s, has designed a new golf-club grip, one that reverses both the principle and the shape of the old grip. What he has done is basic. He has moved the narrow end of the grip from the bottom, where it is on all conventional clubs, to the top. In Garrity's revolutionary design, called the "G" Grip, the last three fingers of the left hand are on the thinnest part of the handle, while the three longest fingers of the right hand are on the thickest portion. This does two important things, says Garrity, and professionals who are trying out his grip agree. It strengthens the hold of the left hand, which is often a problem for weekend players, and it reduces the excessive power that the right hand sometimes generates, a continuing difficulty for the touring pros.
This design first occurred to Garrity a year ago as he sat in his car at an intersection waiting for a red light to turn green. "For years I had been losing control of the club with my left hand at the top of the swing," he says. "I had tried every cure. Suddenly it occurred to me that the fault might lie with the grip on the club, not with me."
Starting with a model he carved out of wood, Garrity experimented with his new design for months, and sought the advice of several professionals. Finally, by August, he had some rubber models he could show to the touring pros, who were then in Hartford, Conn.
The grips, tapered at both ends like a cigar, drew a good response from numerous players. "I think you've got it," Joe Campbell told Garrity. In early October, Campbell, Bob McCallister and Gardner Dickinson all agreed, in exchange for shares in the new enterprise, to use the "G" Grip on the tour. In late October, Garrity got his first mass-produced batch of 350 grips out of the molds, hardly giving them time to cool before rushing off to the Almaden Open in San Jose, Calif. to promote them. Soon more professionals, including Doug Sanders, Jacky Cupit, Don Fairfield and Fred Hawkins were trying out the new grips.
"The hands work together so well," says Bob McCallister, "that it sometimes feels impossible to hook or slice," a view admittedly enhanced by the fact that he shot six straight birdies during one round at the Almaden Open.
Garrity is now ready to produce 6,000 grips per week. A set of 14 "G" Grips costs $15, and comes with assembly instructions to permit home installation. There are several colors, two sizes and three degrees of hardness available. The new grips come in only one material, a soft rubber. A lot of testing is in order before the grips become widely used—but they are an interesting innovation in a gimmick-minded business.