Few things in golf are more important than your grip on the golf club. After all, your grip is your only connection to the golf club! So, what is the correct hand position? How tightly should you squeeze the club? What are the different grip styles? And what is the difference between strong, neutral, and weak grip position? Read on to find out!
The proper golf grip should see your club gripped in the fingers, with just enough grip pressure to prevent it from slipping out of your hands. The “V” on each hand – the angle formed at the base of your thumb and index finger- should point over the right shoulder for a right-handed golfer. (Or left shoulder for a left-handed golfer).
Using the wrong grip or grasping the club too tightly can ruin your golf swing, so ensuring you have the correct golf grip is critical. We will look at how to properly grip drivers, woods, hybrids, irons, and wedges. We will also discuss some of the different ways to grip the club. Finally, we will highlight common problems with your golf game that can be fixed simply by using the proper golf grip.
Why Is A Proper Golf Grip So Important?
Ben Hogan is considered one of the greatest golfers of all time, and many of his ideas and techniques remain important and popular. One of Hogan’s famous sayings was, “Good golf begins with a good grip.”
Any good golf swing requires you to impact the ball with a square club face, and you must use a correct golf grip to pull this off. Remember, your grip is your only connection to the golf club, and as such, using the incorrect grip will affect your ability to achieve good, consistent ball-striking.
One of the most common bad habits of beginners and high handicap players is using an incorrect golf grip. If you think about how many times you will grip a golf club in a lifetime of playing, you are talking tens of thousands of times.
Suppose you are struggling with your game, especially inconsistency in accuracy and distances. In that case, you should first check to see if your grip is correct before looking at any other mechanical aspects of your swing.
Top golf coaches will often spend more time working with their players on developing a consistent and correct grip and stance before bothering to teach swing mechanics. This is how important a proper golf grip is in this game!
How To Properly Grip a Golf Club (5 Steps)
1. Grasp your club (any club except a putter) in your non-dominant hand’s FINGERS
This will be the left hand for 95% of golfers. DO NOT grasp the club in your palm. If you think about how you would pick up and swing a long stick, you will use your fingers to pick it up and hold it while swinging – well, the golf club is just a long stick with a club head at the end.
2. Holding the club at waist height, position the fingers of your non-dominant hand
Again, for most golfers this will be the fingers of the left hand, but for left-handed golfers, it will be the right. Position your fingers so that the club’s grip runs diagonally from your index finger to the base of the pinky finger.
3. Place the club on the ground and further position the fingers of your non-dominant hand
Place the club on the ground, and rotate your left hand so that the “V” formed where your thumb and index finger meet points over your right shoulder (Reverse for left-handed golfers). You should also be able to see the first two knuckles of the left hand when looking down. The thumb on the left should be positioned down the inside right side of the golf club grip.
4. Place your right hand on the club
The palm of the right hand should cover the thumb of the left hand, and the fingers will close over the grip piece of the club using either the interlocking or overlapping grip techniques (more on that below!).
5. Verify that the “V” of the right hand is parallel with the “V” of the left hand and that both are pointing over the right shoulder.
Notice in the image above how we can draw imaginary lines using the “V”s formed by each hand’s index and thumb. These lines should be parallel to each other and both should be pointed toward the shoulder of your dominant hand. Said another way, these parallel lines should point toward the rear shoulder in your stance.
The Position Of The Right Thumb Is Critical To A Proper Golf Grip
One of the most common mistakes that golfers make is incorrect positioning of the right thumb. Having the right thumb properly located on the grip allows the wrists to cock properly at the top of the backswing, apply pressure at ball contact, and enables the unhinging of the club during the release phase of the swing.
Your right thumb should never be positioned fully on the grip. This means that having your thumb placed straight down the middle of the grip is not the correct position. Watching the pros play, you will see that only a portion of their right thumb is on the grip, and the tip of their thumb “hangs” or “points” out beyond the club shaft.
When you place your right hand onto the grip, extend it so that half the thumb sits on the grip and the other half can contact the first finger on the right hand, almost like a pistol grip extended away from that finger.
There should also be an inch or two of the golf grip protruding from behind the left hand. If there is more than that, you are gripping it “short” and reducing the distance of your shot.
Now you know how and where to place your hands on the club. Next, you need to decide which type of grip works for your swing.
The 3 Golf Grip Styles
There are three general of golf grip styles that you can use: the ten-finger grip (also known as the baseball grip), the Vardon grip (also known as the overlap grip), and the interlocking grip.
The Ten-Finger Grip Or Baseball Grip
The ten-finger grip is also called the baseball grip because it is how you grasp a baseball bat! All ten fingers are in contact with the shaft and they are not overlapped or interlocked. It is essentially stacking your two fists on top of each other.
Professional players and skilled golfers DO NOT use this grip. Beginners often tend toward this grip as it can feel more natural and comfortable for them. This grip also can feel better for people with smaller hands.
While this grip may be comfortable, it limits the wrists’ flexibility to hinge and unhinge during the swing. This critical phase of the golf swing is called the swing release, and it plays an important role in the accuracy and distance of your shots by maximizing clubhead speed and squaring the clubface at contact.
The baseball grip might be a good place to start to get a feel of swinging the club. However, if you decide to start playing more often and want to improve, the ten-finger grip will become a major obstacle in your progress.
The Vardon Or Overlap Grip
With the Vardon grip, the pinky finger of the right hand (for a right-handed player) overlaps with the first or second fingers of the left hand. This grip is named for the great British golfer Harry Vardon who is still considered one of Britain’s greatest players.
This grip and the interlocking grip are the most popular for both pros and amateurs alike, and most players find that this grip helps them achieve consistent ball-striking.
The Interlocking Grip
Similar to the Vardon grip, the interlocking grip sees the pinky finger of the right-hand stacking on the grip between the first and second fingers of the left hand. However, with the interlocking grip variation, the pinky finger is actually on the golf club grip, where in the Vardon version it is sitting on the inside of the first finger on the left hand.
This golf grip is also popular in the modern game, and some find it easier to use than the overlapping grip. Some players believe the interlocking grip gives more feel and control as all ten fingers contact the club.
Do You Need To Use A Golf Glove To Get The Proper Golf Grip?
The role of the golf glove is to give a left hand (in a right-handed player) a little more grip on the golf club during the swing. While the glove is not usually worn when putting, it does help players secure the grip in the left hand and prevent the club from slipping or twisting during the swinging of drivers, woods, hybrids, irons, and wedges.
Most players use a glove, but the reality is that if you have the correct grip pressure, you may not need one. If you have ever finished a range session or round and found a hole in your golf glove (or if you still do), this is a symptom of gripping the club too hard, resulting in the grip moving in your hand during execution.
So the bottom line is you don’t NEED a glove to achieve the proper golf grip, but it does have some benefit for ensuring a consistent grip (provided your grip is correctly set up on the club). Try playing with and without a glove to decide what works best for you.
Neutral Grip vs. Weak Golf Grip vs. Strong Grip
You may often hear players referring to using a ‘weak’ or ‘strong’ grip. This has nothing to do with how tightly they squeeze the club! Instead, these terms refer to the position of the hands relative to the target.
The strong grip position is where the ‘V’ of the hands points to the right side of the head or over the right shoulder, which is the most common natural grip. In the neutral grip position, the ‘V’ points almost at the nose. Lastly, the ‘V’ is points to the left side or over the left shoulder in the weak grip position.
In essence, the strong, neutral, and weak grip positions refer to the hands-on grip position and how they sit relative to the target.
The strong grip is where the hands are rotated away from the target, the neutral grip is where the hands are neither tilted away from nor toward the target, and the weak grip is where the hands are tilted toward the target.
The Strong Golf Grip Helps Reduce The Slice
The strong grip position is generally the first type of grip shown to beginners. This grip lets the player see the two knuckles on the left hand and both V’s on each hand point over the right shoulder.
This grip is useful for closing the clubface on impact and is ideal for those who want to shape the ball as a draw. A strong grip is also often suggested for players that struggle with slicing the ball.
The strong grip helps reduce the slice as it closes the face, causes the ball to move right to the left, and prevents the club face from being open at impact, which is the usual cause for the slice or fades.
Remember that the slice is often caused by the ‘over-the-top’ swing and the club path moving from the outside to the inside, causing the clubface to ‘cut’ across the ball. So the strong grip may assist with some alleviation of the slice, but the swing path also needs to be addressed to correct the issue properly.
The Neutral Golf Grip Is for Skilled Players
In this position, the hands sit almost straight down the grip with the “V”’s on each hand pointing toward the player’s face. This grip is for players that don’t have issues with their swing mechanics and offers them the option to move the ball in both directions.
The clubface here is neutral and square to the ball and the target and will promote straight shots and better control for skilled players. This grip would take some time to achieve, and provided there are no swing issues and consistent mechanics, it would result in mostly straight shots.
The Weak Grip Helps Reduce a Hook
As the stronger golf grip can help players reduce the slice, the weak grip can help players who struggle with the hook or extensive draw shape. The draw or hook is caused by an in-to-out swing path and a closed clubface at impact.
The weak grip promotes an open clubface at impact, and this would then counteract the ball shape by either creating a slight fade or having the ball travel straight and reduce the effect of the right-to-left ball flight.
Again remember that poor swing mechanics also cause the shape of the hook and the slice, and simply changing your grip alone may not fix the problem. Still, if your swing is consistent, changing your grip to a weaker position could yield some positive results.
How Tightly to Squeeze?: The Importance Of Good Grip Pressure
The amount of force you exert on your grip–how tightly you squeeze it–directly impacts your golf swing and the quality of ball striking. Many players grip their clubs way too tight. An overly tight grip results in tight wrists, arms, and shoulders, restricting the body’s ability to move fluidly in the swing.
Here’s a tip for applying the right grip pressure:
- Hold the golf club up at waist height out in front of you
- Relax your hands until you can feel the weight of the clubhead in your left hand
- You should be able to feel the weight of the club pulling down on your hands, and your wrists will be nice and loose as well
Remember that the centrifugal force will keep the club in your hands during the swing so it won’t fly away.
Having the right grip pressure also is more energy efficient as you don’t have to exert any real force while gripping, and this allows your shoulders and arms to move more freely during the swing.
Are You Gripping the Club Too Tightly?
This is one of the most common problems with many high-handicap players, and it causes all kinds of issues in the swing. Some of the symptoms of applying too much pressure on your golf grip include blisters on the fingers and hands, sore hands, arms, and shoulders after practicing or playing, and chewing up your gloves!
By creating excessive grip pressure, the natural ability to swing the arms and rotate the body efficiently is compromised, and so you need more force and energy to make your golf swings.
In doing so, you will find yourself tiring quickly when swinging, especially at the range. While many players believe themselves to be unfit, it is more often a case of applying too much pressure on the grip and using more energy to swing.
Your Body Is A Golf Swing Machine
The more pressure you apply through your arms and hands, the less mobility you have to move. The stiffer your hands, arms, and shoulders are, the more energy you need to swing.
The more relaxed you are, the less energy you need to swing, and you can build momentum and energy through your body when you are relaxed.
To prove this, try the following:
Grip your club hard and feel the tension in your hands, arms, and shoulders. Swing the club, keeping a tight grip. It will be uncomfortable and tough to do as you will feel stiff and locked like a machine without oil or whose bolts are too tight!
Now, relax your hands till you can feel the club’s weight in your left hand and your right hand is lightly gripping the club and then make the same swing. You will immediately feel a difference in the way your body moves when relaxed.
Having the correct grip pressure will give your more clubhead speed, more distance, and better shape and flight on your shots consistently. If you want to check if you are gripping the club too hard, look at the shape of your shots.
If they tend to be lower, you are almost certainly gripping your clubs too tightly with a shallower flight path. A lighter grip will give you better compression at impact as you perform a proper and natural swing release and transfer momentum through the club to the ball.
When you relax, you will find your shots going higher and further with better shape and flight while also requiring less effort and energy. You will also find that relaxing the grip tension relaxes the arms and shoulders and promotes a more fluid golf swing!
Is There a Different Correct Golf Grip for Each Club?
(Driver vs. Woods vs. Irons vs. Hybrids vs. Wedges vs. Putter)
There are several different ways to grip the putter, as you will see if you have watched pro golf on TV. However, the reality is that your grip on the putter doesn’t vary much from the grip of your other clubs.
The only real difference would be the position of the pinky finger, as you wouldn’t need to interlock or overlap when gripping the putter. The putting stroke is the shortest and is more a pendulum-type swing than a full golf swing, so the wrists don’t need to hinge or cock.
How the Size of Your Golf Grips Can Affect Your Shots
Now you have the process of gripping the golf club properly; you also need to consider the size of your golf grips. The grip thickness is another important aspect of ensuring proper control of your club during the golf swing.
To check if your golf grips are the right size, do this simple test:
Take your 6-iron and grip it in your right hand and see if the pinky and ring finger touch your thumb pad. If they can easily touch it, your grips are probably too small. If there is a gap, then your grips are probably too big.
If those fingers can touch the pad, then they are probably the right size. Having golf grips that are too thin or too thick will result in inconsistent ball striking, so make sure you have the right size grips for your hands.
How the Condition of Your Golf Grips Affect Your Swing
Now that you have checked your grip size, it’s time to check the grip condition. If you have old clubs and the grips are worn, it will make it very tough to swing them consistently, and often players mistake poor shots with poor technique on their part.
This may be more due to the condition of the golf grips as if they are worn and ragged; they don’t allow for the proper grip and pressure to be maintained during the swing. Some serious forces are at work during the golf swing, and much of it is exerted through the hands and golf club grip during the swing.
Even using a glove won’t help as the material used on the grips is no longer effective in producing the friction on the grip that allows the club to stay in the hands during the golf swing.
If you suddenly find your golf shots becoming a bit erratic, check your grips before you head off to lessons! It could well be that they are worn and need replacing and when you do that, get the size checked too, as you’ll be amazed at the difference it could make to the quality of your shots!
It’s imperative that you take the time and put in the effort to master the proper golf grip. Even if this means holding off from hitting balls, it will be worth it.
Having a proper golf grip from the outset will eliminate many potential issues in your game and result in more consistent swings and better ball striking, and should you find that there are some issues in your swing, at least you know it’s not your grip!