There is a lot of cool gear in the golf equipment world that doesn’t always fit neatly into Most Wanted Tests or Buyer’s Guides. You still want to know how it performs. In our We Tried It series, we put gear to the test and let you know if it works as advertised.
What Is the Golf Pride Concept Helix Grip?
Golf Pride touts the new Concept Helix grip as the world’s first twist-on grip. It’s the first product to come from Golf Pride’s new Global Innovation Center located in Pinehurst, N.C., and the company says it’s a more convenient and easier way for golfers to install grips.
“[The Concept Helix] innovates the installation process, requiring no tape, no solvent and no drying time,” says Golf Pride Global Project Engineer Greg Cavill. “Getting fresh grips on your clubs will be more seamless than ever.”
The Concept Helix grip looks simple: slide it on the shaft and then snug it up using the supplied tool, called a “horn.” Sounds simple, right?
But is it as simple as advertised?
That’s why we tried it.
Your Concept Helix Installer
I’m John Barba. Temporarily on the shelf due to knee surgery, I’m looking for something – anything – golf-related to keep hope alive until spring. Experienced re-gripper who prefers an air compressor but doesn’t mind getting messy with tape and solvent. I’m also a new apartment-dweller with no access to a workshop.
Concept Helix – What Is it?
A few select golf journalists first saw a Concept Helix grip prototype in January at a special Golf Pride event during the PGA Merchandise Show. The idea behind the Concept Helix grip is interesting: a DIY grip that anyone without access to a workshop, adjustable vice, air compressor or any hand tools whatsoever could install. A combination of friction and torque holds the grip in place, making it ready for immediate play.
Stylewise, the Concept Helix grip can be considered a step-brother to the Tour Velvet.
To call Concept Helix a “twist-on” grip is kind of a misnomer. It’s more of a shove-on/twist-tighten grip. Our first look in January was, quite frankly, unimpressive. Several of us, yours truly included, had difficulty getting the grip fully seated on the shaft during the shove-on portion. And if you can’t get a grip all the way on, well…
The name Helix is descriptive. A helix is a twisted curve like a corkscrew or spring and is the mechanism used to tighten the grip to the shaft.
The final Concept Helix version features a seven-step installation process which sounds like a lot. However, several steps are just procedural, like “remove the horn.” We tried it and here’s what we found.
Installing Concept Helix
To install Concept Helix, you need to start with a completely clean shaft. You’ll have to remove all the tape and you won’t be able to build up your grip with extra wraps.
The Concept Helix installation web page walks you through the installation process nicely. Using the “horn,” widen the grip opening and slip it over the end of the shaft. You’ll need to secure the clubhead with your feet and then slide the grip down until it’s fully seated. Your bottom hand, the one holding the open end of the grip and the horn, applies all the force. Your top hand serves as a guide.
You should feel a thump when the grip is fully seated. Next, remove the horn and make sure the grip hasn’t stretched too far down the shaft. Then invert the horn and line up its six-sided opening with the six-sided dial in the grip-end cap. Once that’s done, twist the horn clockwise until you can’t twist it anymore – approximately 30 half-turns.
Now put the horn aside and grab the clubhead for leverage. Then grab the very bottom of the grip with your other hand and twist it clockwise. Next, do the same to the middle section and then the top section (you’ll hear a click when twisting the top section). Finally, give the white end cap a clockwise twist (you’ll also hear a click). Repeat the bottom-middle-top-end cap twist until you can’t twist anymore.
One final step: once you’ve tightened the Concept Helix, finish the job by locking it in place. You do this by placing the horn back on the end of the grip and twisting clockwise another eight to ten cranks until it won’t crank anymore.
Sound complicated? Well …
Golf Pride made very good use of these last 10 months. The prototype we saw in January was, to be blunt, awful. This final version, however, rectifies the biggest issue. Getting the grip fully seated is, in fact, now the easiest part of the entire process. The grip slides all the way in one smooth, easy motion, provided the shaft itself is clean.
The tightening process, however, requires some practice to get right. It did take exactly 30 half-turns to tighten the end cap but the four-step process to actually tighten the grip isn’t intuitive. The lower section doesn’t twist much at all while the middle twists a bit more. Most of the tightening happens at the top portion of the grip as well as the end cap.
I badly overtightened my first attempt which distorted the grip pattern. It’s an easy fix, though: just loosen the end cap with the horn, twist backward and then retighten. I got better at it but it’ll take a few attempts to get right. Fortunately, you can loosen and retighten as many times as necessary.
My first effort with Concept Helix took about 10 minutes from start to finish (not including old grip/tape removal). That, of course, included several references to the instructions, loosening and repositioning the pattern, final retightening and picture taking. My next attempt took less than five minutes, my third attempt less than four.
Is it faster to install grips using tape and solvent? From start to finish, it’s close, but you obviously need a workbench, vice and a basin to collect the excess solvent.
Is it faster to install grips using compressed air? Absolutely, as long as Step One of the process isn’t, “Go out and buy an air compressor.”
Does It Work?
Golf Pride’s goal for Concept Helix is to make it easier and faster to replace grips. From that standpoint, we can safely call it a win. Once you get the hang of it, Concept Helix is fast and easy to install. And you can do it pretty much anywhere.
And let’s give Golf Pride a virtual high five for innovation. Concept Helix is definitely new and definitely different. We’ve been installing grips with solvent and tape forever. Compressed air installation is a bit more recent but both require specific tools and/or a workshop. With Concept Helix, you can change grips in your den, the kitchen or even the parking lot before you tee off.
However, if you use Shotscope or ARCCOS, you’re SOL for now. There’s no place for the sensors.
The question for Concept Helix, however, is do we actually need it? Golf Pride introduced the first slip-on rubber golf grip back in 1953 which revolutionized the grip business. Golf Pride President Jamie Ledford included a brief note in the sample kit we received and it is clear Concept Helix is – as its name would indicate – a concept.
“Following in our tradition of innovation, Golf Price is excited to share with you what we believe is a promising development and step toward the next revolution in grip installation.”
At first blush, it’s easy to roll your eyes at Concept Helix. I did. After all, there’s nothing wrong with solvent and tape or air. And I don’t think anyone out there has been clamoring for a faster, easier way to change grips. But as Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.’”
If you like the idea of changing your own grips but don’t have a workshop or an air compressor (or access to either), Concept Helix may be your only option. Not a perfect option, perhaps, but an option.
And it’s a safe bet that while this is the first iteration of the Concept Helix, it most certainly won’t be the last.
The Golf Pride Concept Helix grip is available in limited quantities and Golf Pride will be looking for user feedback. The Concept Helix grips sell for $9.99 each, with a minimum purchase of three grips (horn is included). For more information and to order, visit www.concepthelix.com.