Keith Henshaw has his brother Rob and their penchant for smoking cigars to thank for their latest innovation, one they hope will provide an alternative – and more cost effective – solution to players who are constantly re-gripping their clubs.
It was over cigars last fall when Rob pulled out his clubs and started cleaning them in front of his brother, and then told Keith he needed to check out how the grips felt after he finished wiping them down.
“I couldn’t believe how much grip they had,” Burlington resident Keith Henshaw said. “They felt brand new, and I knew they were anything but brand new. Then he told me it was the same formula he had been using the last 20 or so years. I told him ‘I think we’ve got something here’ and that’s when the idea was born.”
The idea has since turned into Clean Grip, a cleaning solution packaged in a 22-ounce bottle that Henshaw has rolled out for online purchases at cleangripgolf.com, and to numerous pro shops in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
The original formula for Clean Grip had two main ingredients, and Henshaw took the product to two of his friends he thought could enhance his idea.
In addition to being avid golfers themselves, Henshaw’s friends – PhD organic chemists Bill and Jerry Bailey – founded Duragloss in Burlington, a company that specializes in producing products to enhance the appearance of automobiles and motorboats, such as car wax and cleaning solutions.
“They liked the initial ingredients, but felt like they could add a tackifier to make it come together even better,” Henshaw said. “The heat that comes from your hands will activate the tackifier and give you an even better grip. It’s really like you have brand new grips without having to absorb the cost or time to have them done. You can spray it on, wipe them down and play immediately. It’s really that easy. And it really works.”
Henshaw still uses a 20-year old set of Tommy Armour 855 irons “at least three times a week” and said his playing partners can’t believe how new the grips feel.
“They also can’t believe I still play with a set of 20-year old clubs,” Henshaw said with a laugh. “But I just love them so much, and with Clean Grip, they still have a new feel to them. Most people when they clean their grips might use some sandpaper, alcohol, dishwashing detergent, or even Ajax – which is one of the worst things you can do. Clean Grip is really a one-step process. Spray it on and wipe it down with a hand towel. That’s it.”
Henshaw launched Clean Grip at the Carolinas PGA Merchandise show in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in February and has been blown away by the response. Henshaw also introduced the product at the Florida PGA Merchandise show in June.
“Most of our sales have been online, but we’ve got the product in a bunch of pro shops in the Carolinas and Virginia,” Henshaw said. “Mostly in the coastal regions of South Carolina right now, and just about every pro shop in Myrtle Beach you can find it. In North Carolina, it’s mostly found in pro shops at courses near the beach and in the eastern part of the state. We haven’t really gotten into many shops west of Greensboro yet. And in Virginia, we’re in the Richmond, Norfolk and Virginia Beach areas, and we’re making efforts to expand that into the mountain areas.”
Rob Henshaw runs a golf tournament management company and lives in Midlothian, Va. He has relationships with many of the head pros in the three-state area from setting up tournaments at their courses, which also serves as a built-in marketing campaign.
In addition, Clean Grip is also one of the title sponsors for this year’s GTM Amateur Golf Tour in Richmond.
“We’ve gotten orders in from all 50 states,” Keith Henshaw said. “We had one from Hawaii just recently, as well as Oregon. They guy from Hawaii told us how great it was, which was really good for us to hear. We weren’t quite sure how it would do in extreme hot weather. A few days later, a guy in Oregon let us know that it worked great for him, and that’s a location that has cooler, damper weather. It was a relief for us to know that it worked well in all climate conditions.”
The Henshaws aren’t quite finished with potentially introducing more innovating cleaning solutions to golfers.
They plan to package a smaller, eight-ounce bottle of Clean Grip together with a cleaning product for golf shoes in the near future.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the success we’ve had,” Henshaw said. “A lot of places have been calling to ask us for more. We think we’ve got something that is very effective in revitalizing your grip and can ultimately help your game.”