I arrived at work grabbed a cup of coffee and headed into my office to settle into my morning routine as a PGA Golf Professional. I was entering my office when I noticed one of my assistants re gripping a set of clubs. I looked over as he was dropping the used grip into the trash.
As I stood there and processed what I was witnessing something struck me. Why are we throwing rubber in the garbage?
Being in the golf business you hear concerns from friends, colleagues, owners, operators, environmentalists, home owners, etc about what were are doing to be better stewards to the environment. They constantly ask "Do you recycle?" " How much water does your golf course use?" "Do you participate in IPM?" "How much fertilizer do you use?" As an operator I was always cognizant of these challenges, but never in my life was asked what we do with our used rubber grips.
I immediately grabbed an old bag box, cut a hole in the top and wrote "INSERT GRIPS HERE" on it and then handed it to my assistant. I said "we are not going to throw any more used grips away". I knew that the rubber was high quality and in my mind I figured someone would want it. I my surprise in a few months we had collected over 400lbs of used golf grips.
So here I was with multiple boxes of use grips surrounding my desk so I started calling around to find someone to recycle what we had collected. I was immediately disappointed to find out that nobody wanted the rubber. The last recycler I spoke to actually told me to throw it away. I just couldn't bring myself to do that so I started to experiment. I took out a pair of scissors and cut a grip lengthwise and feed it into my paper shredder. I almost fell off my chair when I pulled it out of the basket and it looked exactly like rubber playground mulch. Grips Fore Good was born!
Fast forward 18 months and we launched collection services at the 2015 United States Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Washington.
We now have recycling partners all over the United States including golf grip manufactures, the PGA and LPGA professional tours, driving ranges, individual golfers, box stores, and golf courses. Thus far our partners have help divert over 100,000 pounds of used rubber from local landfills.