Written By: Spy Zinger

Put a Cork On It

Every product has a story. And these products we talk about on MGS aren’t just things. They are products with a purpose, invented by people with stories. And the stories are all different.

That being said, I know what you’re thinking.  An article about a putter grip? Well, this isn’t just another putter grip we’re talking about. It’s a grip made from cork.  That’s right, a sustainable product made of wood, designed for use on the most important piece of gear in your bag.  No, you didn’t stumble upon MyFlyFishingSpy.com either (that domain is still available just in case you want to snag it up).  Pass the salt, this is about to get delicious.

I was first introduced to the Richmond, Virginia based Salty Grips last summer.  My regular playing partner had a Salty on his Miura putter (KM-007 to be exact), and it immediately caught my attention.  Firstly, the Salty doesn’t look like any other grip on the market today.  Secondly, it looks better suited to the end of a fishing pole than it does a putter.

At first glance, one is taken aback just a bit.  Is that really a putter grip made of cork?

My reaction was pretty much the same as others have when they meet me for the first time:

“Damn, that looks good, I wonder what it feels like?” –Everybody who meets Spy Zinger

Once you get your hands around it, you notice a firmness that’s not hard, and a smoothness that’s not slippery.  But, enough about me… Salty Grips possess these qualities too, and the feedback during the stroke is unmistakable.  Like a quality forged iron, you know where on the putter face contact is made.

You can further personalize the feel with just a few brushes with fine grit sandpaper.  The over-sized design takes your hands and wrists out of the stroke.

Who would have thought golf performance grew on trees?

“Cork is a natural product.  Nothing else in golf, not even gloves, except leather, is a natural product.  And the beauty is how light it is.”- Whitfield Flowers, Co-Founder of Salty Grips

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This past week, I had the opportunity to discuss Salty Grips with Whitfield Flowers, one of the co-founders of the company.  Flowers explained that Salty was the brainchild of he and his friend, Mark Button.  While at Virginia Tech together the two discovered they share a mutual love for both golf and fishing.

In 2011, Salty Grips was born. The name “Salty” comes from the cork grips used on saltwater fishing rods.

“Mark and I were going back and forth with some ideas to break into the industry.  We decided to the best way to break into an industry of things we love, was to parlay the two.  Combine our passion for the two sports.  Something that would appeal to the outdoorsman and the golfer.”-Whitfield Flowers

The majority of the world’s cork production happens in Portugal, and it’s where Salty sources the natural cork bark used in its grips.  Salty went through extensive prototyping and testing before they found just the right cork for their product.  The grips are produced (formed) in Portugal before being shipped to Virginia. Once here in the state, the grips are finished with a polymer sealant for durability and moisture resistance.

Custom logos can be added for a small up-charge.

“Portugal is really the cream of the crop when it comes to cork harvesting and manufacturing.” – Whitfield Flowers

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Flowers considers 2013 as the year that Salty grips firmly established themselves as a golf company.  Salty is on the cusp of really breaking-through, and the expectation is that 2014 is going to be a huge year for the young company.

On the day I spoke with Flowers, he was in the process of finalizing a deal with one of the top 5 companies in golf. The deal will allow consumers to custom order a Salty on their new putter.  Other companies have started to take notice as well. The engraving option makes it simple to customize each grip to the club manufacturer.  A little man, a swoosh, circle “T”, TP, a chevron?  Easy.

At present, Bettinardi, Piretti, and Scratch Golf offer Salty Grips as a custom option on their putters. Bobby Grace has also noted a love for Salty, and the list of OEMs offering the grip continues to expand.

Major retailers are also in the process of evaluating Salty for their permanent inventory as well.  With Salty Grips already being offered at Roger Dunn shops in California, Flowers says his company have taken measures to ensure their production can keep up with the demands of growth.

Currently there are two grip options available through the Salty website. The Mid-Plus retails for $35, while the Oversized will set you back $40.  And in-between option is on the way.

Custom engraving is available for a $10 up-charge.

Salty Grips conform to USGA Rules.

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