Many golfers will spend hours on the golf course or driving range trying to improve their golf swing. However, sometimes one of the most overlooked areas of improvement can be found in your golf grip.
Think back to when you very first picked up a golf club and started playing the game. How often in that time have you thought to check your grip technique and how tightly you grip the golf club.
The grip might seem insignificant compared to changes in your golf swing. But, your grip is one of the most important fundamentals when laying the foundations to a better golf swing. Beginner golfers that start with a bad grip are highly unlikely to develop a good swing technique.
In this article you will be taken through a guide to the golf grip. We explain how you grip the golf club, how to check your set-up and speak about how tight your grip should be.
Table of Contents
How do you grip a golf club?
You would think gripping a golf club would be easy, but it is important to understand the options available and the differences between them. There are three standard grips used in golf; baseball, overlapping and interlocking. Each one is slightly different and there is no specific right way to grip the club. It is important to try out each of the methods to find what feels most comfortable to you.
This grip will be familiar to anyone that has hit with a baseball bat before. You grip the golf club with one hand directly above the other and have all ten fingers on the club. This grip is also sometimes referred to as the ten finger grip.
The baseball grip is not common amongst Professionals and elite golfers. The lack of connectivity between the hands often results in too much wrist movement, which causes a lack of control. Honed correctly having so much freedom with both hands can create immense power, but it is difficult to achieve consistently accurate results.
It is popular with beginners, because it can feel more familiar. Typically as golfers begin to improve with the basics of a golf swing they will then be taught one of the alternative grips below instead.
Despite not being as common as the overlapping ‘Vardon’ grip described next, the two most successful golfers of all-time Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods both used the interlocking grip.
In the interlocking grip you lock your hands together by hooking the pinky in your lower hand together with the index finger of your upper hand.
The main benefit of this grip is the security of both your hands working together as one. It removes a lot of the fluidity of wrist movement in the swing, so you need to rely on expert timing to get the best results. However, some golfers find it helps result in a more powerful swing.
Golfers with smaller hands will prefer this grip, because it is likely you will not be able to securely use the overlapping grip.
You will most commonly hear this golf grip referred to as the Vardon grip. It is named after the British golfer Harry Vardon, who still holds the record for the most victories at The Open (6), as he first popularized using the grip. It is now generally considered to be the most used in golf.
This grip is similar to the baseball grip, except your pinky finger of the lower hand rests in the groove between the index and middle finger of your upper hand. You still want no gap between your hands, so you should feel them move closer together to achieve this.
With elements of both the baseball and interlocking grips, the overlapping grip combines freedom of movement with the additional security of having the hands connected.
It is an excellent option for golfers with larger hands, typically most adult men. It is likely to feel more comfortable than the interlocking grip.
Check your grip fundamentals
Do not grip it too far into the palm
The first thing to consider when gripping the club is its location in your hands. You do not want the grip placed in the middle of your palms, but rather mostly in your fingers.
Gripping in the palms removes your ability to use your wrists during your swing, which will greatly limit the power potential of your swing.
Keep your grip close to neutral
If your grip is fairly neutral, you should only have your index and middle finger knuckles showing on your gloved (upper) hand. Any more and your grip is strong, any less and your grip is weak.
Another check is to look at the V created between the thumb and index finger of your lower hand. In a neutral grip this should point roughly toward your right ear (or left for left-handers).
Many professionals have strong or weak grips, so it is not essential to keep it neutral. However, it does make it easier for recreational golfers to have a grip closer to neutral. Broken down to the simplest reasoning, a strong grip causes hooks and a weak grip slices.
Do not grip too tightly
The majority of club golfers will commonly grip the club too tightly. There are many analogies used regarding golf grip tightness. Perhaps the most famous is Sam Snead’s “grip the club as if it were a baby bird”.
Personally, I find the toothpaste analogy the most helpful. Grip the club as if it were a tube of toothpaste. You want to hold it firm enough so that you cannot drop it, but not too firm that you would squeeze the toothpaste out.
Once you are happy with your grip, it is imperative that it is the same every time. You can use a mirror to check regularly at home. Many golfers develop a specific routine that helps them maintain consistency.
Signs your grip is too tight
A loss of distance is one of the biggest side-effects of a grip that is too tight. By holding so tightly onto the golf club you will lack fluidity and freedom in your swing. It also makes hinging your wrists harder and creates a stiffness to the swing that results in less clubhead speed.
You will also be unable to fully release the clubhead through impact due to having less flexibility in your wrists. This makes it much harder to get consistent timing and you are likely to mishit too many shots.
Poor distance control with your approaches
A tight grip does not just affect your long game. By gripping too tightly you will lack any real feel through the grip of your club. This will become especially noticeable on shots you are hitting less than full swing, because these shots require you to have good feel to ensure distance control.
Lack of creativity
This one is less likely to bother the higher handicappers and beginners. However, lower handicappers often want to shape their ball flight or play inventive pitch shots. Having less freedom of movement with the club makes it much harder to play creative golf shots.
Does your grip change for the putter?
The only time you should be adjusting your grip is when using a putter. You will see professionals using all types of grips nowadays, from the ‘claw grip’ to a ‘reverse grip’.
Putting is a completely feel based skill and every golfer is different. So, you should use whatever grip gives you the most amount of confidence. Although avoiding gripping too tightly is still advised for better distance control.
This might all sound incredibly complicated, but getting your grip right is not rocket science. As with most things in golf, it is simply practice.
If you are struggling, then go back to the basics. Find the technique that feels most comfortable to you. Make sure you are happy with the neutrality of the grip and then work on loosening it if you need to.
The slightest changes in grip can cause your entire swing to feel completely alien. If you have been playing golf for many years, the grip could be one of the hardest things to change.
Start with shorter and slower swings until you feel comfortable, then gradually build your way up to a full swing in stages. It can often seem easier to revert back to what you know, but it is worth persevering. Getting your grip right should be the first step towards improving your game.