Profiling Dragon Skin grips without referencing Harry Potter and the fire-breathing reptilian beasts Harry, Hermione and Ron encounter during their epic Hogwarts adventures?
C’mon. Potter guy here.
I read the books, binge-watch the movies once a year, even went to see J.K. Rowling’s Cursed Child performed on stage. (Sorry, no spoilers.)
So this seemed an obvious segue into Dragon Skin, a burgeoning grip brand named after the mythical winged serpent that has long symbolized “strength” in folklore.
Founders of Dragon Skin
Hogwarts wizards they are not but Rusty Estes and Masashi Kamoda, industry veterans with longtime ties to the PGA TOUR and multiple OEMs, are the principals behind Dragon Skin.
Started as a small side project in 2020, their efforts morphed into a unique grip design based off a single question: Why is there only a “concave” shape or depression to aid in the adhesion aspects of a standard grip?
To answer that question, Estes and Kamoda engaged in a detailed performance analysis which included a comparison of grips and radial car tires (stay with me here).
Both products utilize grooves within their surface structure for adhesion and stability function, right? The difference? The palms of our hands aren’t flat and hard like highways. They’re soft, more like the rubber you find on off-road vehicles meant specifically to interact with sandy or muddy conditions.
Comparing grips to radial tires proved smarter than Prof. Albus Dumbledore.
Instead of continuing along the standard path of concave grip design, Dragon Skin conceptualized a “convex” blueprint, one that “bites into the palm of the hand” to deliver advanced adhesion and increased grip strength.
“All of the edges, like the design of an off-road tire, go into the palm skin so the grip can hold tighter and give golfers a sticky feeling,” says Kamoda.
The Wizardry of 3D CAD
Enter golf equipment brand, Jucie Inc.
Well-known throughout the Pacific Rim and familiar to Estes and Kamoda from their time working in Asia, the Japanese equipment company’s expertise in 3D CAD design became the engineering conduit for Dragon Skin’s unique “convex” grip design.
Working with Jucie resulted in a more precise grip surface contacting the hands.
The angle and shape of each individual “convexity” of the grip is gradually varied to match the grip’s taper (slanted). That lends a hand (pardon the pun) to achieving a more efficient grip strength compared to standard flat, angled grips.
“We came to a conclusion that all of the edge angles needed to be 22 degrees from the top of the grip and progress to 20 degrees to the bottom of the grip,” says Kamoda. “Angles of the edges were mirrored on both sides so the grip can be used logo up or logo down.”
Two Types of Dragon Skin
Circling back to its tire research, Estes and Kamoda determined one hardness of Dragon Skin grip would not suit all.
Convex off-road tires produce grip and surface strength based on varying the internal pressure, meaning you soften or harden the tire depending on a road’s surface.
With that in mind, two types of hardness compounds for Dragon Skin grips were developed:
Fire Dragon – Firm compound (hard). Cord-like with hard texture
Calm Dragon – Firm compound (normal). Provides grip strengths that feels more like biting (gently, of course) into the skin of the hands
Five Technology Components of Dragon Skin
Patented in Japan (patent-pending in the United States), Dragon Skin debuted at this year’s U.S. Open, utilizing five technologies.
1. Butt End Grip Part (A)
Requiring a larger amount of pressure applied due to the lead-hand position, the upper area of the grip has more prominent protrusions in clockwise positioning and counter-clockwise directions for the left and right sides. The grip force applied has “ergonomical” designs to enhance grip pressures and maintain stability.
Butt End Grip Part (B)
The convex scale protrusions feature a progressive pattern: larger on the lead hand grip to smaller sizes on the trail hand grip.
2. Dragon Scale Shapes
The trapezoidal wedge shape of each scaly protrusion prevents grip slippage and reduces twisting through impact.
3. Dragon Skin-Like
To improve grip repeatability and consistency, a large rhombus-shaped design in the middle part of the grip enhances feel and serves as a reference point for the thumb.
4. Lower Grip
The bottom side of the grip is designed with an increased number of large scales to increase gripping power utilizing Dragon Skin’s clockwise and counterclockwise design.
5. Multiple Layers Structure
Dragon Skin achieves its multiple layering structure with elastomer materials which gives the grip its two designated firmness options.
Dragon Skin Performance
Seamless and free of parting lines, Dragon Skin, as you probably have surmised by now, was built with performance in mind. The all-weather grip’s introduction to Tour players at the U.S. Open and to club professionals has already garnered a flurry of positive feedback.
Under normal to adverse conditions, including wet and humid environments, the grip maintains a tacky feel, prevents impact twisting and is highly durable.
“We created Dragon Skin as a product that fulfills the contradicting concepts of grip stability and enhanced feel,” Estes says. “It’s unique. There’s nothing on the market quite like it.
Dragon Skin Pricing and Availability
Both of Dragon Skin’s initial products, Fire and Calm, come in two colors, black and royal blue, and retail for $17.99 each.
Standard cores 58R, 58X, 60R and 60X are available.
If you want to learn more about Dragon Skin without a detour to the Hogwarts library, cast a spell to dragongolfgrip.com.