This month we tee it up with Bruce and Ian Mcconchie, brothers, golf industry legends, all-around good guys and co-founders of The Grip Master.
1. Tell us how The Grip Master came about
Our core business prior to starting the Golf Grip business, was as a manufacturer of Ladies and Mens Genuine Leather Fashion Accessories [Est 1974 in Melbourne], being mainly Belts and Bags! In 1995 we had an inquiry from our USA Belt Distributor who was a friend of a guy called Dave Kelly who had started his own golf grip biz, by the name of Kelmac Grips. He had a number of his customers asking if he could source Genuine Leather Straps for rejuvenating the old style Hickory Shaft Golf Clubs! Dave’s thoughts were that as we were already processing Leather into strapping for belts, we were halfway there!!
It took us a lot longer than first thought, and Dave eventually gave up on us, but having started down this path I wasn’t going to let it get the better of us. We eventually developed a viable Genuine Leather Profiled Edge Strap to suit our purpose, but then had to figure out how to treat the leather to be tactile and overcome the very bad reputation leather had of being very hard and slippery and unplayable in hot/humid or wet weather conditions!!
After working for some considerable time with a Chemical company in Melb, Bruce and I eventually came up with a formula which we Brand named ‘Protack’, and this formula has stood the test of time, and remains exclusive to TGM, and an integral part of our success in the Golf Grip business. Having come this far, we came to know that the assembling and building of a Genuine Leather Wrap Golf grip was in fact a fine art, and very time consuming, therefore quite expensive. So in conjunction with the strapping developments we put our minds to creating a new style of Under Listing to bring Leather grips back into play, as a pre tensioned/assembled grip which could be fitted as easily and quickly as the latest generation Rubber and Synthetic Golf grips.
2. What were/are some of the biggest challenges in getting the brand started/keeping the brand relevant?
For a great inside look into The Grip Master, go to the back nine at the end of this nine!
3. How can the average golfer benefit from using your grips?
We know our Genuine Leather grips are unparalleled in performance when compared with Rubber or Synthetic Golf grips, and once a consumer has tried our grips they will never return to Rubber or Synthetic grips!! Performance is related to scoring, and again we know the TGM user will improve their game and drop shots off their handicap!! More in the back nine below!
4. Who/what do you owe your success to?
Hard work and dedication to improving the Golfers experience and chance of improving their score, thereby their increased enjoyment of playing this great game!!
5. Tell us something about The Grip Master that the general public wouldn’t know
How incredibly hard it has been to get this amazing product to market, as explained above.
6. Your best golf joke or real life golf story?!
I love the one about 2 very competitive long term mates playing one day, having driven off one of the hardest holes on their home track. One guy drove his ball dead center down the fairway, whilst his good mate ended up a similar distance but deep into the heavy rough.
After spending some time both looking for the lost ball, the mate whose ball was in the rough told his mate to go and play your shot whilst I just spend a bit more time looking before I give up. The guy in the middle of the fairway hits his second shot about 15 feet from the pin, and having done so hears his mate shout from the rough that he just found his ball and was taking his shot.
His mate who was on the green by now heard the shot, and his mates ball ended up 3 feet from the pin! This created a great dilemma for the guy first on the green, as he knew his mate had cheated because he had his mates first ball in his pocket, having found it in the rough before his mate could!!
7. Your dream foursome?
To play with any of my good friends from Woodlands GC, having been a member there for over 30 years, but absent from Aust now for over 8 years, building and stabilising the TGM Grip Manufacturing facility based in Lamphun, Thailand.
8. What one piece of advice would you tell yourself when you were starting up?
When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
9. What can we expect from The Grip Master in 2020 and beyond?
Having survived this long, just hoping we can see our way through the current unprecedented worldwide health and economic climates, and continue to provide the worlds golfers with undoubtedly the Best Golf Grip on this Planet, and any other Planet we may find ourselves on in the not too distant future!!
And for those of you who insist on playing 18, here’s the long version of how The Grip Master got started and through the years:
1999 TGM applied for a comprehensive USA and Japan Patent for a unique under listing design, through ‘Callinan and Lawrie’, Patent Attorney’s based in Melbourne.
1999 Bruce & Ian visit OEM’s in Carlsbad Callaway, Titleist, Cobra, Taylormade before heading to PCS golf show in Louisville Kentucky. Visitors to the show were happy to see the return of the genuine leather grip with the patented underlisting receiving plenty of interest from other grip manufacturers at the show, especially Winn grips who approached TGM for a quote to manufacture the underlisting for their synthetic wrapped grip.
After the show and visit to the major OEM’s, TGM realised that the only way that leather grips could make inroads back into the golf market was to make them as easy to fit as a rubber grips. Working closely with Super Alloy Technologies, TGM came up with the world’s first one piece slip on leather grip, which would make TGM the market leader in leather grips. The major OEM’s also advised TGM, that to become a preferred supply to them, TGM would need to have a presence in the aftermarket and have professional golfers on the major golf tours using the TGM grips
2000 TGM then went about growing the brand in the aftermarket and on the professional golf Tours.
2002 TGM went into a manufacturing agreement with Tectronics Thailand, to assemble TGM one piece leather grips. This allowed TGM to manufacture the grips in large volumes and a more competitive price required for the OEM’s and aftermarket business.
2001 TGM had a manufacturing agreement Lamkin, the second largest grip company in the golf industry to supply Lamkin branded leather grips and underlistings for the synthetic grip they were manufacturing.
2002 TGM set up a small distributor in Japan and the USA to grow the TGM brand in the aftermarkets.
2002 TGM signs agreement to make leather grips for Golf Pride (Eaton corporation) largest grip company in the world.
2003 Scotty Cameron become TGM first major OEM customer with a small limited release line, In 2005, TGM grips were used on a production model, the American Classic putter line. 50,000+ units.
2004 TGM signs up new USA distributor based in Houston Texas.
TGM introduces new laced line of grips in 2005, Scotty Cameron puts the new laced putter on the Circa 62 line in 2006.
TGM now supplies the following major OEM’s and many smaller OEM’s based in Japan, Europe and the USA.
- Scotty Cameron
- Odyssey Putters
- Callaway Golf
- Vokey Wedges (Acushnet Golf)
- Bettinardi Putters
- TP Mills Putters
- Ferrari (Cobra Golf)
- Aston Martin Golf (MD Golf)
2007 TGM restructured the company by setting up new distributors based in the UK, servicing Europe and South Africa. Malaysia, servicing the Asian market. The USA servicing North American Markets and Korean market.
2010 TGM introduced the sewn line of grips.
2012 Vokey wedges adds TGM red sewn kangaroo grip to its custom options.
2013 TGM introduced the new Fearthlite FL series, to compete with the very successful SuperStroke line of Light weight oversize putter grips.
In 2013 Callaway’s high end Legacy brand run’s TGM’s Black sewn Kangaroo as its standard grip option.
During 2012/2013 TGM separated from SAT Thailand (formly Techtronics Thailand) and set up The Gripmaster Thailand TGMT its own independent manufacturing facility in Chiang Mai Thailand.
Since the TGM’s Tour program began in 2000, TGM has now become the leading leather grip on all major golf Tours around the world, PGA Tour, European Tour, Japanese Tour, Australasian Tour, LPGA Tour Asain Tour, Oneasia and Sunshine Tour.
TGM has 3 time major winner Padraig Harrington and 2 time Major winners John Daly and Retief Goosen endorsing TGM grips.
In 2013, TGM had players using their grips with wins on the European Tour (1 win), Asian Tour (3 wins), Australasian Tour (2 wins). In previous years TGM has had wins on The PGA Tour, European Tour and Asian Tours.
In 2013, 33% of the field at The Australian Masters used TGM grips.
No players are paid to use TGM grips, they use them because they want to. TGM now has over a 100 players using leather grips on all world tours.
Since 1999 TGM Brand has become recognised as the #1 leather grip brand in the golfing industry having reintroduced the tradition and performance benefits of leather grips to the golfing market.