Why Your Golf Grip Matters
There are a few fundamental pillars to the game of golf that will make or break your game. Your grip on the club is one of them. One of the first things you learn when playing the game of golf is how you should hold the club, yet many people overlook the importance entirely. Neglecting a proper golf grip takes consistency from your game, and using an improper grip delivers injustice to your golf game.
In any sport, you want to nail the fundamentals and have confidence when playing. A great golf grip can lower your scores, smooth out ball flight issues and give you the confidence to play your best golf.
This may seem obvious, but the way you hold the club affects all of the control you have in your golf game. For instance, by gripping the club too tight you’re probably losing out on some distance; a lighter grip pressure promotes the full release of your hands, allowing your clubhead to come through faster. Your grip also has a direct impact on how you can control your ball flight. Certain grips promote right to left ball flight, while others promote left to right.
I’m happy to cover the basics of what goes into a golf grip, as well as the variations that are out there for you to try.
The way you feel standing over a shot will either deliver confidence or make you feel like an alien who has never played the game before. When I am most comfortable and play my best golf, everything clicks, and just feels right. For me, that starts with my grip, and continues with my alignment and posture.
Different Grips for Different Players
When it comes down to it, there are 3 different styles of gripping the club: Strong, Neutral, and Weak. Each grip style will impact the distance you hit the ball, as well as the ball flight tendencies. All of these grips suit different play styles; it’s worth trying each out and seeing how it pairs with your natural swing.
With a stronger grip, you’ll naturally be more prone to draw or hook the ball; with a strong grip, the “V’s” that are created with your thumb and index finger will be pointing to your stronger shoulder, exposing 2-3 knuckles on your top wrist when you’re looking down at your hands. It’s worth noting, when you use a stronger grip it’s better to use your body to manipulate the clubhead rather than your hands. Overmanipulating your hands with a strong top hand will make your swing less consistent.
With a neutral grip, the V’s of your hands will point up the center of your golf grip. Your ball flight won’t necessarily favor a draw or a fade, as the clubface should come through square every time (in theory). Tiger Woods is known to have a neutral grip, and in turn he’s able to shape his shots masterfully on command.
With a weaker grip, your top hand will have no knuckles showing, but your bottom hand will have 2-3 knuckles showing as it will be more on top of the grip. A weaker grip will allow you to manipulate the club with your hands much more when you swing. Opposite of a stronger grip, you’ll be more prone to fade the ball with a weaker grip.
You’ll need to do some experimenting on which grip suits your game best. Play around with these 3, and I bet you’ll gravitate toward one more naturally.
Different Methods of Gripping the Club
There are also 3 basic ways to grip the club in your hand; overlapping, interlocking, and baseball grip. Personally, I use the interlocking method and have done so from day 1 because it feels natural and comfortable. How you grip the club is entirely up to you, as all 3 of these are appropriate.
The Overlapping Grip is also referred to as the Vardon Grip- which gets its name from the late Harry Vardon, who made this grip popular between the 19th and 20th century. This grip is very popular among PGA Professionals. The Overlapping grip has the club sit in the fingers, and the pinky finger of the bottom hand (glove hand) overlaps onto the top hand, resting between the top hand’s index and middle finger. Because this grip allows the club to sit naturally in your fingers, it sets you up for success.
While many PGA Pros use the Vardon Grip, 2 of the greatest players in the history of Golf use the interlocking grip: both Tiger Woods and Jack Nicholas. This is a pretty popular style of grip, and the one I use for my game. To execute this grip, interlock the pinky finger of your bottom hand with the index finger of your lead hand, locking them together. It’s important to make sure you hold the club in your fingers and not your palms, as this is a common mistake by golfers who use this grip. For beginners, or people with weak wrists this is a great grip to learn.
Baseball Grip/10 Finger Grip
This is the least common grip in golf, but for an absolute beginner it may simplify things if you’re finding the other grips a bit challenging. It’s pretty straight forward to execute this grip; place the pinky finger of your bottom hand against the index finger of your leading hand, just like a baseball grip.
How to Grip a Golf Club Instructions
Initiate with the top hand
The top hand on the club provides most of the support while gripping the club.
When setting up to a ball, place the club so that the clubhead is square and on the ground. Initiate with your top hand- if you’re a right handed golfer, this is your left hand. Face your palm toward you, and place the grip at the top of your palm, just below your first knuckles. Close your fingers around the grip, so that it feels like the grip is sitting entirely within your fingers. Next, close your palm so that your thumb and index finger create a V. Your thumb should be in full contact with the grip.
Bring bottom hand to the club
The bottom hand is what leads and directs the club.
Similarly to the top hand, place the golf grip for the bottom hand to sit at the top of your palm, underneath your first knuckles. Your top index finger and bottom pinky finger should be joining in some way, based on your grip method. When you curl your bottom fingers, you’ll notice that the club will sit in the fingers in this hand as well. Lastly, close your bottom palm to form a similar V shape with your index and thumb. You should feel the most pressure within the index finger on the bottom hand.
Check your knuckles and V’s
This will be based on how you’d like to arrange your grip as we mentioned earlier: Strong, Neutral or Weak.
With a strong grip, look for 2-3 knuckles showing on your top hand, and maximum of 1 on your bottom hand. Both V’s should be pointing between your dominant shoulder and your neck.
For a neutral grip, you should see 1-2 knuckles per hand and notice the V’s pointing to either side of your neck.
For a weak grip, you should see no knuckles on your top hand, and 2-3 knuckles on your bottom hand. Both V’s should be pointing between your neck and your non-dominant shoulder.
Check Grip Pressure
You do not want to hold onto a golf club for dear life. You want the overall pressure in your grip to be relatively light (think 5 out of 10, 10 being tightest), to the point where someone can almost take the club from your hands. With a soft grip, you maximize your potential for distance and accuracy! Make sure the club feels comfortable in your hands, and remember to keep your hands soft. Give up control to gain control.
I think Tom Watson does a great job discussing grip pressure, so here’s a quick video to check out:
The way you hold the club is absolutely fundamental, and it should be the first thing you learn when you start to play golf. Experiment with what works best for you. You want your grip to be comfortable, and fit your natural swing. Remember to keep those hands soft, and you’ll see a big difference in your game!
Thanks for reading!