Why Don’t All Tour Pros Follow Mickelson’s Example?

Neftçala When it started to rain during the Presidents Cup, Phil Mickelson did something he’s done in nasty weather for several years: he switched to rain gloves. In an interview once, he explained why: “they can get wet and my grips can get wet and I’m not constantly trying to stay dry.” Usually, he leaves them on even to putt:

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My regular golf buddies and I all use rain gloves, too:

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They work so well that I don’t understand why so few tour pros have followed Mickelson’s example. Of course, those guys have unlimited access to new gloves, and they have caddies to dry their grips and hold their umbrellas and protect their towels, and even in nice weather they don’t seem to mind fussing around for a couple of minutes before taking a shot. Still, leather turns slimy when it becomes even slightly wet, and a caddie who has to focus on keeping gloves and grips and towels dry doesn’t have time to think about more important matters. The great thing about rain gloves is that, once you’ve put them on, the weather ceases to be an issue, for exactly the reason Mickelson gave. You can just play.

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The pros probably worry that wearing rain gloves would affect their “feel,” but, if a player as famously feel-oriented as Mickelson can handle them, so can anyone else. Besides, if you have to squeeze your clubs even slightly harder to compensate for the slickness of your grips, you’ve already abandoned feel. I would bet that most pros have never even tried them. During the Presidents Cup broadcast, Johnny Miller said that one reason Mickelson wears them is to keep his hands dry—but no one who had actually played in rain gloves could possibly think that, because they don’t:

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Rain gloves don’t keep anything dry. What they do is enable you to hang on to your clubs when your hands and grips are soaking wet—even when the two-foot-wide stream at the bottom of the second fairway looks like this:

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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.

Rain Gloves Are Also Sweat Gloves

Sweat-soaked rain gloves, July 7, 2013.

Sweat-soaked rain gloves, July 7, 2013.

It’s been so hot and humid around here that we’ve had to make some adjustments. I’ve started wearing rain gloves even when it isn’t raining, because regular gloves feel slick and slimy when they’re soaked with perspiration. We’ve also tried bracketing the worst parts of the day by playing at the five-thirties: a Two-Hour Eighteen™ at 5:30 a.m. followed by a Two-Hour Eighteen™ twelve hours later, at 5:30 p.m. The course is empty and relatively cool both times, and you have room for a full workday in between, assuming you don’t fall asleep at your desk. And after the second eighteen you get home in plenty of time to ask, “Hey, what’s for dinner?”

Tony, Ian, Other Gene, Tim-o, Rex, eighteenth green, dawn patrol

Tony, Ian, Other Gene, Tim-o, Rex, eighteenth green, dawn patrol, July 3, 2013.

Kevin, Addison, evening session.

Kevin, Addison, evening session.

Sunday Morning Group met at the regular time—7:30—and the temperature was around 90 by the time we finished. Doug got so hot that he had to cover his head with a towel:

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Corey (our pro) wore shorts, and for the first time in living memory we ate lunch on the porch, to get out of the sun.

Settling up at lunch: Corey (our pro), Hacker (real name), Tom, Tim.

Settling up at lunch: Corey, Hacker (real name), Tom, Tim.

There were only three skins, and Tim got two of them. He was also on the winning team, so next week it will be his turn to bring lunch. Doug had a wife situation at home, so he left as soon as he had eaten. He doesn’t live very far from the course, so in decent weather he usually commutes by motor scooter:

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That’s a dual-purpose helmet he’s wearing: turn it the other way and it’s a golf cap.