By Kevin Bickel
The Sarge Easter grip is a less commonly used ball grip in which the middle finger is drilled fingertip and the ring finger is drilled conventional or semi-fingertip. You may have heard someone talking about this grip, seen someone using it, or seen it on TV. It is not widely known or used, but the Sarge Easter grip has significant advantages. We’ll discuss the pros and cons, who uses it, and how to make the switch.
Pros & Cons
Much of this list will be based on my personal experience with the Sarge Easter grip. I made the switch to Sarge Easter in the Fall of 2012 and haven’t looked back. Here are some of the benefits I have experienced:
- More comfortable grip – The overall feeling has been much more comfortable than traditional fingertip. I feel much more overall control over the ball than before.
- Improved axis rotation – Prior to switching to Sarge Easter, I was having problems with the ball rolling over my thumb hole. Since switching, my axis tilt and rotation has changed such that rolling over my thumb hole is no longer a problem.
- Turning the ball later – Perhaps contributing to my thumb hole issue was that I had a tendency to turn my wrist too early at my release. Using the Sarge Easter grip helped me to turn the ball later in my release and to stay inside of the ball better.
- Less tension – Many people switch to Sarge Easter out of necessity or due to injury to relieve tension off of their ring fingers.
- It’s different – This isn’t a reason alone to switch, just a benefit of switching. If you are in a rut or are constantly having issues with your grip, try something new.
- Adjusting – Getting used to something new is always a challenge and this is no exception. It will likely take months to fully adjust to the new grip before you are fully comfortable.
- Experimenting – Unfortunately, you probably won’t get the feel correct on the first ball you drill. Or the second one. See below for more details on making the switch.
- New problem area – Until you get the feel right, there is going to be some rubbing around the second knuckle of your ring finger. This will probably cause some cuts and calluses at first.
- Questions and comments – This isn’t really a con, but I have gotten a lot of questions and even more less-than-useful comments. Just a heads up.
Making the Switch
This is a big commitment to make for your game. As we know, bowling balls don’t come cheap these days. Do yourself a favor and try it out before jumping in with both feet.
If you have an old ball laying around that you’ve deemed useless, pull it out of retirement. If not, try and ask friends or fellow league members for an old ball. Someone is bound to have one they have no use for. Once you have your ball, head to the pro shop and have the driller measure out a conventional or semi-fingertip span for your ring finger (or just tell him you want to experiment with Sarge Easter; he/she should know what to do).
If you are using your own old ball, you have a couple options. You could either have the driller punch out a conventional hole right below your fingertip hole, or you could have him plug the ring finger first. If you will never use the ball again, go with the first option. It’s cheaper and faster. If you acquired a ball that wasn’t yours, you’ll likely have to plug and re-drill all 3 holes.
As I stated earlier, the first drilling won’t be perfect. You will have to experiment with the size of the hole, tape, beveling, pitch, position, etc. Some of these things, like pitch and position, you can’t just change, so you’ll have to roll quite a few games with your test ball and make note of areas with too much pressure, too much rubbing, etc.
The key to a good fitting Sarge Easter grip is communication with your ball driller. Whether that means communicating the issues and getting advice from him or telling him exactly what to do to the 1/16th of an inch, make sure you communicate. I wasn’t comfortable enough to plug and re-drill my arsenal until my 3rd experimental ball. If you do decide to make the switch, be aware that it is not immediate.
There is a misconception that the Sarge Easter grip decreases rev rates. As is the nature of misconceptions, this is not entirely true. Your rev rate will likely decrease at first while you are adjusting to the new feel, but will go back to normal once you are used to it.
Professionals who use the Sarge Easter Grip
Have any questions about the Sarge Easter grip? Have your own Sarge Easter experience to share? Comment below and let us know.