Field Test: Dealing With Sweaty Hands, Plus Playing Golf at Yale

Art-type shot of Shep, Josh, and Tony on the eighteenth tee at Yale, plus a padlocked water pump, July 23, 2013.

Art-type shot of Shep, Josh, and Tony on the eighteenth tee at Yale, plus a padlocked water pump, July 23, 2013.

Not long ago, I wrote about using rain gloves as sweat gloves—a good thing, I said, because in hot, humid weather leather gloves become slimy and disgusting, while rain gloves continue to work even if they’re soaked with perspiration. A reader suggested trying Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer, which is endorsed by Tiger Woods’s ex-coach Hank Haney. And, because I do what I’m told, I bought some.

On Tuesday, Tony, Shep, Josh, and I played Yale University’s terrific golf course, which was designed by C. B. MacDonald and Seth Raynor. (Incidentally, if you want to use the GHIN website to enter your score from Yale, you have to look under “T,” for “The Course at Yale.” How dumb is that?) The day was extremely humid, and after a couple of holes I decided to try Gorilla Gold. Here’s what it looks like:

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The package contains a sticky cloth, which you wipe on your hands, your glove, your grips, whatever. And it works as advertised, I would say, because it’s extremely sticky, and everything it touches becomes extremely sticky, too, even if it’s also wet. But after about five minutes I was cursing, because once you’ve got the sticky stuff on your hands you also get it on your ball, and that turns your ball into a magnet for dirt and pocket lint. And that, in addition to being a nuisance, almost certainly costs you distance, by altering the ball’s aerodynamics—like coating an airplane’s wings with ice.

Golf ball coated with Gorilla  Gold and pocket crud.

Golf ball coated with Gorilla Gold and pocket crud.

Long, repeated scrubbing in a ball washer did not remove all the sticky stuff: the next afternoon, the same ball was still picking up dirt from putting greens. And when I tried to use a towel to wipe the sticky stuff off the grip of my driver, the grip became covered with towel fuzz, which I’m still trying to remove. In fact, all the clubs I touched with sticky hands now feel like they need to be re-gripped, because the sticky stuff stops feeling sticky and starts feeling slick as soon as it’s coated with dirt or lint or towel fuzz. So I won’t be a repeat customer.

Tony and Shep at Yale.

Tony and Shep at Yale.

Shep, who doesn’t like rain gloves, has another anti-wet technique: he saves all his old leather golf gloves in a Ziploc bag, and on rainy or humid days he works his way through the bag, swapping wet gloves for dry. All the wet gloves go into another Ziploc bag, and by the time he needs them again they’ve magically refreshed themselves.